Now that the first cut downs are in the 53-man picture should be getting clearer. I really don't see this changing much as we draw closer to the final 53. This is perhaps the easiest 53-man NFL roster to predict. There's one true starting spot up for grabs – WR. And most back-up spots are spoken for as well. But that don't mean there won't be some hard decisions for JH & Co. and some shocker cuts and dark horse players that make it. I honestly think the NFL should expand the roster to 60 and PS to 12.
The QB situation is pretty much settled. I think, lately Colin Kaepernick has played better, especially against the Broncos. Personally, I'd like us to keep only 2 QB's. I just don't think we need 3, but I don't see JH keeping only 2 given that we don't have a long-term QB. If Alex takes us to the SB, win or lose, he will have earned that hands down.
I'm not a big fan of Kaepernick, but it seems that JH is, and I trust his judgment. I like J.J. If I had my way it'll be Smith, Tolzien, and J.J., in that order. I really hope they trade Kaepernick.
LaMichael James This is a crowded backfield, and I think Jacobs will be on the short end of the carries. Hunter is the featured back of the future. James will be the change-of-pace back, though he's still a work in progress. I see us drafting a true throwback powerback somewhere in the 2013 draft. Jacobs won't be with this team more than one season. Personally, I like Dixon. I think he's beginning to "get it" and honestly hopes he beats out Jacobs. I'm just a bigger fan of home-grown developed talent than a FA acquisition. In my mind if Dixon becomes that powerback JH and Coach Rathman wants I think he brings more value to the squad given he's a great ST player.
Will Tukuafu and Demarcus Dobbs makes a need for another FB unnecessary.
A. J. Jenkins
Nathan Palmer/Chris Owusu
(In that order!)
This is gonna be a make-or-break season for Crabs – no more excuses. I think we keep 6 WR's. Just way too much talent to risk on the PS. Plus, JH isn't going to allow the WR position to expose this team another season. I still don't see Ginn making it, unless he DRASTICALLY improves at his craft and be "available". Plus, Ginn just won't stay healthy (available). With the depth at this position this team won't suffer many one-dimensional players. Now, I'm not afraid to be wrong here. Kyle Williams could be the one out and Ginn in, but I doubt it. (And I won't be irate if Ginn made it either. I trust JH.) Kyle is the far superior WR than Ginn. Either Palmer or Owusu will break through the 53, but won't be active on game days. Both have return abilities and are better WR's than Ginn, especially Owusu. I have really changed my mind about Moss since he joined the team. But unlike most Zoners I seriously doubt that Moss will play the major role that most here think he will. JH has stated a play count for Randy. I cannot see him starting on a defined play count. Plus, unless I was watching another team I didn't see Moss separate himself as a starter. And I just haven't seen much of Manningham this preseason to see him as a starter. Maybe they are holding him back but from where I sit Manningham has had a pretty quiet preseason. I think A.J. will be the 2nd WR starter – at least by the bye – and will be a MAJOR factor in this offence. I know he's struggled a bit in beginning of camp and many around here declared him a bust. But his very diverse skill-set will open things up this offense more than any WR on our roster, and therefore gives this team more on-the-field options. Does he need to bulk up to hold up to the NFL press and get better? Sure he does! He's a rookie. But that's why NFL teams have strength and conditioning staffs. A. J. will be fine. I think too many fans are really underestimating A.J.
Mike Person/Kenny Wiggins
8 offensive linemen. I really don't think Leonard Davis is gonna make this team. I really think he was brought in to push newly minted G Alex Boone. But it looks as if Boone has a firm choke hold on that spot as he's transitioned nicely. Look for Boone to have a Pro Bowl-like season. Daniel Kilgore is the better value because he'll play center and G, and he's younger. Either Mike Person or Kenny Wiggins will break through. I thought Slowey would last longer but I think he'll make it back to our PS. Make no mistake about it, this will be THE most punishing O-line in the league.
Nothing to see here.
Demarcus Dobbs I don't see any of the rookies breaking through here as JH & Co. are high on Dobbs and Tukuafu. They are valuable two-way players now. I guarantee you this will (re)start an NFL trend.
Ricky Jean Francois
No Ian Williams. I think he'll fall victim to the "value" bug. With "value" being a major emphasis for players on the periphery of the starting lineup, and with Dobbs and Tukuafu making themselves valuable in other positions, Ian Williams' roster spot is extremely vulnerable.
Cam Johnson/Eric Bakhtiari
No elaboration needed here.
Darcel McBath/Tramaine Brock.
I think we keep 5 CB's. Personally, I think we should keep 6. I think that's an extremely talented group, and I think this corps is gonna really surprise some people. It's behind the top 3 that worry me. I really haven't been happy with the play of Tramaine Brock this preseason. Every time I saw him he looked like garbage. I'm really hoping that McBath can beat him out.
I know, 5 safeties. I admit that's a stretch. But JH & Co. aren't gonna let ALL the young talent go. A lot of teams had very large eyes on Michael Thomas before we nabbed him. On a safety-staved team he at least strongly competes for a starting role. Plus in a league that shamefully favors the offense and the passing game you just can't have enough secondary guys. JH & Co. would be wise to find a way to keep him. Goldson is 50-50, at best, to return in 2013. Goldson feels he's worth more and there's nothing that'll get him off that (not saying that he's not worth more). Trent Robinson, I think, is gonna be good, but he's gonna be bit of a project. Michael Thomas has the potential to push and surpass Trent Robinson. Plus at 5-11, 182lbs, he has the potential to play corner.
Anthony Dixon/Rock Cartright
When Rock first came to the 9ers I was sure he'd make the team. But with Dixon playing well and buying into the powerback roll JH & Co. wants from him I say he has a real shot at keeping his roster spot. Dixon is younger and seems to be the better in the short yardage game. Plus, Dixon is turning into a ST Ace himself, so he has more "upside". Again, "value" is the key word here. This is an interesting battle to keep an eye on.
Inactive for game days:
Cam Johnson/Eric Bakhtiari
Darcel McBath/Tramaine Brock
Nathan Palmer/Chris Owusu.
Players not named are cut or on PS. We will have the most dangerous ST in the league, even without Ginn. Spillman, Colin Jones, Cartwright, Gooden, Grant, and Haralson are all ST studs. I don't know if any other team can boast that much talent on ST. I won't try to predict an 8-man PS. Most players we release won't ever make it to our PS. We can't keep'm all. Teams are licking their chops at our cast-offs.
[ Edited by 9ersLiferInChicago on Aug 28, 2012 at 7:27 AM ]