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Key Roster Battles

So with training camp mostly complete and one preseason game already in the books, we have some clarity about our roster situation. Most of the spots have already been sewed up, and all that remains are the final backup positions and the Practice Squad. We have a ton of depth and talent this year which is a very good thing, but it also sets up some very interesting player battles.

Round 1: Tavares Gooden vs. Michael Wilhoite
This is the battle for the 4th ILB spot. Gooden is a very solid special teamer who shouldn't be counted on to play significant minutes on D. If Wilhoite can prove to be just as good as Gooden on special teams while showing more upside on D (i.e. can be groomed to take over Grant's spot next year) he could snatch away the job from the veteran.

Round 2: Cam Johnson vs. Eric Bakhtiari
Coming into camp I thought Johnson would be a shoe-in for the #4 OLB position, with his status as a draft pick and Darius Flemming's injury. But Johnson's knee hasn't been right all summer and he's been passed up by Bakhtiari on the depth chart. If Johnson can get healthy soon and show something during preseason he could still get the spot on potential alone, but he has to make it back onto the field first.

Round 3: Josh Johnson vs. Lord Tolzien.
This has been discussed ad nauseam. For the record, my money's on our Bronze God Tolzien.


I would be surprised if we keep less than 6 WR and 5 RB on the roster. Which assuming we keep 9 DB, 3 QB, 9 OL, and 8 LB only leaves us with room for keeping either 7 DL and 2 TE or 6 DL and 3 TE. Versatility is going to be a big factor in who wins this.

Round 4: Will Tukuafu vs. Ian Williams vs. Demarcus Dobbs.
Oooh our first 3-way free for all! This really depends on whether Harbaugh believes Dobbs can be counted on to be the 3rd TE. If he can then all 3 could get a spot and this would be an anti-climatic battle. But if he can't then we have to let one of these 3 go. Tukuafu has played some H-back so he has a little versatility going for him as well. Ian Williams is the least versatile of all the DL as he can only play one position, but the coaching staff was really high on him last year and he's done nothing but continue to get better this year. Decision, decisions.

Round 5: Demarcus Dobbs vs Konrad Reuland.
Continuation from round 4 here. I have to say I'm a bit skeptical that Dobbs in basically two weeks of practice after not playing TE since High School can be more than an occasional TE in short yardage plays. Meanwhile Reuland catches every thing in sight and his blocking seems to be improved some this year. But on the other hand Dobbs has made remarkable progress in a short period of time. Hmmmmmm........

How do you guys think this plays out in the end? Which deserving players don't make the cut? Are there any other roster battles that I'm not thinking of?


(P.S. I'll post the practice squad brawls in a bit, if this is popular enough ).
My locks right now for the 53 man

QB- Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick
RB- Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Rock Cartwright
FB- Bruce Miller
WR- Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., and A.J. Jenkins
TE- Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker
C- Jonathan Goodwin and Daniel Kilgore
OG- Mike Iupati and Alex Boone
OT- Joe Staley and Anthony Davis

DE- Justin Smith and Ray McDonald
NT- Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois
OLB- Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith
ILB- Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden
CB- Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver
S- Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner and C.J. Spillman

ST- David Akers, Andy Lee and Brian Jennings

Thats 40 locks right now.

My camp battles

3rd QB: Josh Johnson vs Scott Tolzien

Possibly 6th WR: Kyle Williams vs Nathan Palmer vs Brett Swain vs Chris Owusu vs Bryan Tyms

3rd TE: Demarcus Dobbs vs Konrad Reuland

Last 2-3 OL: Leonard Davis vs Joe Looney vs Jason Slowey vs Derek Hall vs Mike Person

5th DL: Will Tukuafu vs Ian Williams (Possibly both)

3rd and 4th OLB: Parys Haralson vs Cam Johnson vs Eric Bakhtiari (Haralson makes a lot for a backup OLB who has never played a lot of special teams, so he needs to prove he stays)

4th and 5th CB: Perrish Cox vs Tramaine Brock vs Darcel McBath vs Cory Nelms

4th S: Trenton Robinson vs Michael Thomas vs Colin Jones

If it was me, the final 13 spots would be

QB- Johnson
WR- Williams
TE- Dobbs
OL- Davis and Looney
DL- Tukuafu and I.Williams
OLB- Bakhtiari and Johnson (Haralson if he cuts his salary)
CB- Cox and McBath
S- Robinson and Jones
Good post ATG
Off the top of my head ones that aren't settled yet:

3rd QB: Tolzien vs Johnson
3rd TE: Dobbs vs Reuland (Dobbs wins we only carry 2 TEs, Dobbs listed under DE)
4th OLB: Bakhtiari vs Johnson (or Johnson to PUP and we keep both)
2 PS WRs: Owusu, Tyms and Palmer (assuming all would clear waivers although not likely)
4 or 5 Safeties: Colin Jones or No Colin Jones?
T: Person, Wiggins, Hall

What I think is locked up...
Rock Cartwright vs Anthony Dixon
6th WR - Kyle Williams
5 CBs - Rogers, Brown, Culliver, Cox, Brock
Dobbs, Tukuafu, Ian Williams, Grant/Gooden 2 ILBs, Davis at backup RG, Kilgore is backup C


QB- Smith, Kaepernick, Tolzien
RB- Gore, Hunter, Jacobs, James, Cartwright
FB- Miller
WR- Crabtree, Moss, Manningham, Ginn, Jenkins, Willliams
TE- Davis, Walker, Reuland
OT- Staley, Davis, Person/Wiggins/Hall
OG- Iupati, Boone, L. Davis, Looney
C- Goodwin, Kilgore
NT- Sopoaga, RJF, Williams
DE- Smith, McDonald, Tukuafu, Dobbs
ILB- Willis, Bowman, Grant, Gooden
OLB- Smith, Brooks, Haralson, Bakhtiari
CB- Rogers, Brown, Culliver, Cox, Brock
S- Goldson, Whitner, Spillman, Robinson
ST: Akers, Lee, Jennings

PUP - Darius Fleming, Cam Johnson

That's 54 without the 2 PUP guys. I'll leave it at that and the last cut would be Reuland and keeping 2 TEs plus Dobbs or Mike Person/Wiggins/Hall. I like that roster with 1 of those guys gone. Only player cut would be Colin Jones. Also, with PUP they don't take up a roster spot correct? I know after the 6 week you get time to decide if you want to reactive them or send them to IR for the year. Fleming would be IR, Johnson might take Bakhtiari's spot by then or go to IR just to save him for next year even if he is healthy.
[ Edited by Gore_21 on Aug 16, 2012 at 8:45 PM ]
Originally posted by AllTimeGreat:
So with training camp mostly complete and one preseason game already in the books, we have some clarity about our roster situation. Most of the spots have already been sewed up, and all that remains are the final backup positions and the Practice Squad. We have a ton of depth and talent this year which is a very good thing, but it also sets up some very interesting player battles.

Round 1: Tavares Gooden vs. Michael Wilhoite
This is the battle for the 4th ILB spot. Gooden is a very solid special teamer who shouldn't be counted on to play significant minutes on D. If Wilhoite can prove to be just as good as Gooden on special teams while showing more upside on D (i.e. can be groomed to take over Grant's spot next year) he could snatch away the job from the veteran.

Round 2: Cam Johnson vs. Eric Bakhtiari
Coming into camp I thought Johnson would be a shoe-in for the #4 OLB position, with his status as a draft pick and Darius Flemming's injury. But Johnson's knee hasn't been right all summer and he's been passed up by Bakhtiari on the depth chart. If Johnson can get healthy soon and show something during preseason he could still get the spot on potential alone, but he has to make it back onto the field first.

Round 3: Josh Johnson vs. Lord Tolzien.
This has been discussed ad nauseam. For the record, my money's on our Bronze God Tolzien.


I would be surprised if we keep less than 6 WR and 5 RB on the roster. Which assuming we keep 9 DB, 3 QB, 9 OL, and 8 LB only leaves us with room for keeping either 7 DL and 2 TE or 6 DL and 3 TE. Versatility is going to be a big factor in who wins this.

Round 4: Will Tukuafu vs. Ian Williams vs. Demarcus Dobbs.
Oooh our first 3-way free for all! This really depends on whether Harbaugh believes Dobbs can be counted on to be the 3rd TE. If he can then all 3 could get a spot and this would be an anti-climatic battle. But if he can't then we have to let one of these 3 go. Tukuafu has played some H-back so he has a little versatility going for him as well. Ian Williams is the least versatile of all the DL as he can only play one position, but the coaching staff was really high on him last year and he's done nothing but continue to get better this year. Decision, decisions.

Round 5: Demarcus Dobbs vs Konrad Reuland.
Continuation from round 4 here. I have to say I'm a bit skeptical that Dobbs in basically two weeks of practice after not playing TE since High School can be more than an occasional TE in short yardage plays. Meanwhile Reuland catches every thing in sight and his blocking seems to be improved some this year. But on the other hand Dobbs has made remarkable progress in a short period of time. Hmmmmmm........

How do you guys think this plays out in the end? Which deserving players don't make the cut? Are there any other roster battles that I'm not thinking of?


(P.S. I'll post the practice squad brawls in a bit, if this is popular enough ).

I'd be SHOCKED if wilhoite beats out Gooden
Originally posted by niners420:
Originally posted by AllTimeGreat:
So with training camp mostly complete and one preseason game already in the books, we have some clarity about our roster situation. Most of the spots have already been sewed up, and all that remains are the final backup positions and the Practice Squad. We have a ton of depth and talent this year which is a very good thing, but it also sets up some very interesting player battles.

Round 1: Tavares Gooden vs. Michael Wilhoite
This is the battle for the 4th ILB spot. Gooden is a very solid special teamer who shouldn't be counted on to play significant minutes on D. If Wilhoite can prove to be just as good as Gooden on special teams while showing more upside on D (i.e. can be groomed to take over Grant's spot next year) he could snatch away the job from the veteran.

Round 2: Cam Johnson vs. Eric Bakhtiari
Coming into camp I thought Johnson would be a shoe-in for the #4 OLB position, with his status as a draft pick and Darius Flemming's injury. But Johnson's knee hasn't been right all summer and he's been passed up by Bakhtiari on the depth chart. If Johnson can get healthy soon and show something during preseason he could still get the spot on potential alone, but he has to make it back onto the field first.

Round 3: Josh Johnson vs. Lord Tolzien.
This has been discussed ad nauseam. For the record, my money's on our Bronze God Tolzien.


I would be surprised if we keep less than 6 WR and 5 RB on the roster. Which assuming we keep 9 DB, 3 QB, 9 OL, and 8 LB only leaves us with room for keeping either 7 DL and 2 TE or 6 DL and 3 TE. Versatility is going to be a big factor in who wins this.

Round 4: Will Tukuafu vs. Ian Williams vs. Demarcus Dobbs.
Oooh our first 3-way free for all! This really depends on whether Harbaugh believes Dobbs can be counted on to be the 3rd TE. If he can then all 3 could get a spot and this would be an anti-climatic battle. But if he can't then we have to let one of these 3 go. Tukuafu has played some H-back so he has a little versatility going for him as well. Ian Williams is the least versatile of all the DL as he can only play one position, but the coaching staff was really high on him last year and he's done nothing but continue to get better this year. Decision, decisions.

Round 5: Demarcus Dobbs vs Konrad Reuland.
Continuation from round 4 here. I have to say I'm a bit skeptical that Dobbs in basically two weeks of practice after not playing TE since High School can be more than an occasional TE in short yardage plays. Meanwhile Reuland catches every thing in sight and his blocking seems to be improved some this year. But on the other hand Dobbs has made remarkable progress in a short period of time. Hmmmmmm........

How do you guys think this plays out in the end? Which deserving players don't make the cut? Are there any other roster battles that I'm not thinking of?


(P.S. I'll post the practice squad brawls in a bit, if this is popular enough ).

I'd be SHOCKED if wilhoite beats out Gooden

niners went with only 3 olb last year...this year i could see them going with only 3 ilb
Originally posted by hofer36:
niners went with only 3 olb last year...this year i could see them going with only 3 ilb

What would be the point? The key job of a 4th LB is special teams and Gooden has proven himself as a solid core member of last year's amazing special teams and is likely one of our 3 best special teamers. The fact that he also has legit experience at ILB is a bonus as well.
Originally posted by AB83Rules:
My locks right now for the 53 man

QB- Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick
RB- Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Rock Cartwright
FB- Bruce Miller
WR- Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., and A.J. Jenkins
TE- Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker
C- Jonathan Goodwin and Daniel Kilgore
OG- Mike Iupati and Alex Boone
OT- Joe Staley and Anthony Davis

DE- Justin Smith and Ray McDonald
NT- Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois
OLB- Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith
ILB- Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden
CB- Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver
S- Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner and C.J. Spillman

ST- David Akers, Andy Lee and Brian Jennings

Thats 40 locks right now.

My camp battles

3rd QB: Josh Johnson vs Scott Tolzien

Possibly 6th WR: Kyle Williams vs Nathan Palmer vs Brett Swain vs Chris Owusu vs Bryan Tyms

3rd TE: Demarcus Dobbs vs Konrad Reuland

Last 2-3 OL: Leonard Davis vs Joe Looney vs Jason Slowey vs Derek Hall vs Mike Person

5th DL: Will Tukuafu vs Ian Williams (Possibly both)

3rd and 4th OLB: Parys Haralson vs Cam Johnson vs Eric Bakhtiari (Haralson makes a lot for a backup OLB who has never played a lot of special teams, so he needs to prove he stays)

4th and 5th CB: Perrish Cox vs Tramaine Brock vs Darcel McBath vs Cory Nelms

4th S: Trenton Robinson vs Michael Thomas vs Colin Jones

If it was me, the final 13 spots would be

QB- Johnson
WR- Williams
TE- Dobbs
OL- Davis and Looney
DL- Tukuafu and I.Williams
OLB- Bakhtiari and Johnson (Haralson if he cuts his salary)
CB- Cox and McBath
S- Robinson and Jones

Not a bad projection but you make a few points that are kind of curious imo. Do you really think Gooden is good enough (pun not intended) that he can be considered one of your 40 locks? If Gooden's a lock than I think there are at least 5 other players I would consider to be locks as well.

Also, I don't know if I'd really be in favor of keeping Colin Jones at the expense of a 9th OT in Person or Reuland. Jones offers nothing as a safety and with the talent we have on this roster it seems like a waste to have 5 specialists on ST (Akers, Lee, Jennings, Cartwright, Jones).

Additionally, I highly highly doubt we cut Haralson. Yes his salary is a teensy bit too high for a backup, but we're still under the cap so no need to be penny pinching right now. Regardless of whether he's overpaid or not, would you really feel comfortable with 2 completely unproven OLBers as your 2 backups? Haralson isn't a star but he's a serviceable veteran who knows the defense really well who we know can play against NFL competition. I think you're underrating the value of a proven commodity.

Finally, don't really know what you see in McBath. He hasn't stood out in practice and the only thing I remember him doing in the game was getting caught with his pants down against 3rd stringers. Plus, isn't he a safety anyways? He'd have to show me a lot in these next 3 games for me to want him over Brock.
My thing with Colin Jones is he is a good special teams player but we have a whole team of them since we use 1st stringers like Dashon, Navorro, etc which some teams don't do. Plus we got aces like Rock and CJ Spillman... we got Gooden, Grant, etc, etc I don't know if he is worth keeping for ST alone.
[ Edited by Gore_21 on Aug 16, 2012 at 7:28 PM ]
Originally posted by niners420:
I'd be SHOCKED if wilhoite beats out Gooden

It's a long shot but I don't think it's completely out of the realm of possibility. Gooden at this point in his career won't ever be more than a #4 ILB. Grant is a UFA after this season and will likely want to have a shot to be a starter. Wilhoite is a young guy, and if he has the talent the coaching staff might want to groom him as Grant's replacement. Not saying it's going to happen, I'm just saying that Gooden's spot on the 53 isn't as guaranteed as people think it is.
Originally posted by Gore_21:
My thing with Colin Jones is he is a good special teams player but we have a whole team of them since we use 1st stringers like Dashon, Navorro, etc which some teams don't do. Plus we got aces like Rock and CJ Spillman... we got Gooden, Grant, etc, etc I don't know if he is worth keeping for ST alone.

I really wish we wouldn't use NaVorro and Goldson on STs, same with Delanie. I get nervous knowing they are on STs.
Originally posted by AB83Rules:
I really wish we wouldn't use NaVorro and Goldson on STs, same with Delanie. I get nervous knowing they are on STs.

Good way to make your special teams better. It's risky though... Nate Clements broke his collarbone on a return a few years back. Don't Goldson and Navorro only play punt team? Are they on kickoffs as well? I know they aren't on punt or kick returns. Anyways, I know Belichick was big on using starters for ST... it's not like our coaching staff to hold back on what guys can all play. We'd try out Andy Lee at WR if we got thin enough. Coach Harbaugh isn't one to play scared... he wants to get the most out of these guys.
Originally posted by AB83Rules:
My locks right now for the 53 man

QB- Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick
RB- Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James and Rock Cartwright
FB- Bruce Miller
WR- Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., and A.J. Jenkins
TE- Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker
C- Jonathan Goodwin and Daniel Kilgore
OG- Mike Iupati and Alex Boone
OT- Joe Staley and Anthony Davis

DE- Justin Smith and Ray McDonald
NT- Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean Francois
OLB- Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith
ILB- Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden
CB- Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown and Chris Culliver
S- Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner and C.J. Spillman

ST- David Akers, Andy Lee and Brian Jennings

Thats 40 locks right now.

My camp battles

3rd QB: Josh Johnson vs Scott Tolzien

Possibly 6th WR: Kyle Williams vs Nathan Palmer vs Brett Swain vs Chris Owusu vs Bryan Tyms

3rd TE: Demarcus Dobbs vs Konrad Reuland

Last 2-3 OL: Leonard Davis vs Joe Looney vs Jason Slowey vs Derek Hall vs Mike Person

5th DL: Will Tukuafu vs Ian Williams (Possibly both)

3rd and 4th OLB: Parys Haralson vs Cam Johnson vs Eric Bakhtiari (Haralson makes a lot for a backup OLB who has never played a lot of special teams, so he needs to prove he stays)

4th and 5th CB: Perrish Cox vs Tramaine Brock vs Darcel McBath vs Cory Nelms

4th S: Trenton Robinson vs Michael Thomas vs Colin Jones

If it was me, the final 13 spots would be

QB- Johnson
WR- Williams
TE- Dobbs
OL- Davis and Looney
DL- Tukuafu and I.Williams
OLB- Bakhtiari and Johnson (Haralson if he cuts his salary)
CB- Cox and McBath
S- Robinson and Jones

That is interesting but I disagree with a few things. A valid point has already been made about your OLB projection--that is having two back-ups that inexperienced and unproven, vs. keeping Haralson. (Haralson is staying IMO.)

On the OL-keeping two guards vs having 1 OG/C and then a T? I guess that isn't that big a deal, cuz if a Tackle goes down, Boone can move to that Tackle spot and either of the two back-up Guards step in Boone's place. But do we keep L. Davis around vs actually developing a younger, drafted Slowey or Person? Would Slowey or Person make it by the waivers?

Cox is going to beat out Mcbath, any day and twice on sunday. Not even close, IMO.

Robinson would have the job to loose, since he can actually play safety.

I also think Tolzein is a better #3, unless Johnson really starts to show up in preseason.

Just my to cents.
Who I want:

QB - Smith, Kap, Tolzien
RB - Gore, Hunter, Jacobs, James
FB - Miller
WR - Crabtree, Moss, Manningham, Ginn, Jenkins, Williams
TE - Davis, Walker, Reuland
OT - Staley, Davis
OG - Iupati, Boone
OC - Goodwin, Kilgore

DL - McDonald, Soap, Smith, Jean-Francois, Tukuafu, Dobbs, Williams
OLB - Smith, Brooks, Haralson
ILB - Willis, Bowman, Grant
CB - Rogers, Brown, Culliver, Brock, Cox
S - Whitner, Goldson, Spillman, Jones

ST - Jennings, Akers, Lee

That's 48 spots, so 5 spots left. The question marks for me:

Johnson vs the roster vs $ - we paid him, but do we keep him? 4 QB's? I think Tolzien to the PS is a risk for now

Cartwright vs the Roster - ST vet and had a good game vs MN, but will we keep 5 RB? I think its possible they'll have to cut him to keep someone at a different spot.

Person vs Himself - Didn't look good against MN, but its early. The only other option is asking Boone to start at OG and backup both OT spots.

Looney vs Slowey vs Davis vs Beeler- I think two of these guys could make it

Brown vs Johnson vs Bakhtiari - Johnson & Brown have potential. Bakhtari is having a good pre-season

Wilhoite vs Gooden - What's more important for your 4th ILB: ST play or ILB play?

Thomas vs Robinson - I kept Jones because of his ST value and because he made some plays last year in the goal line defense. I honestly have no idea between these guys, so both to PS?

My leaders for the last 5 spots:

RB/ST Cartwright - return and ST value edges Gooden out for now
OT Person - I don't like the idea of keeping 9 OL with only 2 dedicated OT's
OLB Johnson - I think Bahktari has the vet advantage, but they go with potential in the end. Honestly, I was pulling for Brown but can't see that happening for now.
OG Davis - tough call, but a vet to slide in if Boone has to play OT

I can't pick a 5th right now (cop out), but I think it comes down to OG Looney vs QB Johnson with Gooden on the outside looking in. I'm probably also forgetting a few ppl, too.
[ Edited by Overkill on Aug 16, 2012 at 8:50 PM ]
Originally posted by AB83Rules:
Originally posted by Gore_21:
My thing with Colin Jones is he is a good special teams player but we have a whole team of them since we use 1st stringers like Dashon, Navorro, etc which some teams don't do. Plus we got aces like Rock and CJ Spillman... we got Gooden, Grant, etc, etc I don't know if he is worth keeping for ST alone.

I really wish we wouldn't use NaVorro and Goldson on STs, same with Delanie. I get nervous knowing they are on STs.
True dat......+