Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

49ers 2022 53-man roster projection

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 28, 2022 at 2:15 PM--

NFL teams have until Tuesday at 1 p.m. PT to cut each of their rosters down to 53 players. Here is what I project for the San Francisco 49ers roster.

Quarterback (2): Trey Lance, Nate Sudfeld

I'm taking Nate Sudfeld as the second quarterback on the roster over Brock Purdy, who's flashed in the preseason with some tight-window and touch throws.

Sudfeld, 28, has an extra year of familiarity in the system and is a veteran quarterback who has mentored Lance throughout his career. He's also guaranteed $2 million, making him an expensive cut, and has played well enough in the preseason to maintain his stance as the backup quarterback.

While Purdy has flashed, Sudfeld possesses the better arm strength, and it's unfeasible to roster three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster with the amount of depth on the roster at other positions.

Only nine of 32 teams rostered three quarterbacks in 2021, and only three of those teams made the playoffs: the Philadelphia Eagles(who traded Joe Flacco), Las Vegas Raiders, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

A potential way to ensure that the 49ers do indeed keep all three signal-callers on the roster would be to keep Purdy on the 53-man roster while cutting Sudfeld, only to re-sign the latter to the practice squad, where he can essentially serve as the backup quarterback, while not subjecting the former to waivers because he isn't a vested veteran.

However, this instance would only allow the former Eagles quarterback to be active for two games in the year before having to be signed to the active roster, de-incentivizing the idea, which leads me to two quarterbacks, with Purdy being the practice squad player for 2022 before potentially seeing a similar ascension to Sudfeld to the backup role in 2023.

Running Back (5): Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., Trey Sermon, Tyrion Davis-Price, Jordan Mason

In my opinion, there are two solidified locks in this position group: Elijah Mitchell, the clear-cut top running back when healthy, and Tyrion Davis-Price, who was drafted in the third round this year.

The other spots are all up for grabs, with four contenders that have all flashed at times this offseason: Jordan Mason, Trey Sermon, Jeff Wilson Jr., and JaMycal Hasty.

While the 49ers normally carry four running backs, which Kyle Shanahan acknowledged, the talent, youth, and injuries at the position, have me rostering an extra halfback, leaving JaMycal Hasty as the odd man out.

Hasty has performed well in training camp and the preseason, showing his talents as an explosive runner despite his size, while also being able to pass-protect.

Although Hasty has shown the capability to run routes, he's inconsistent at the catch point, whereas Jordan Mason and Jeff Wilson Jr. have been more reliable, leading them to be the better potential third-down options.

With the physicality that the running back room has, as well as the special teams capabilities of certain players, Hasty is on the outside looking in and should be a practice-squad player if he clears waivers.

Fullback (1): Kyle Juszczyk

Let's move forward.

Wide Receiver (5): Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray

In my opinion, all five of these receivers are locks to make the roster, with the top three all being starters last year, McCloud receiving a two-year deal in the offseason, and Gray getting drafted in the third round of the 2022 NFL Draft.

The major question with the receiver room is whether they roster wideout Malik Turner as the sixth receiver or not. To me, this spot goes between Jason Poe and Turner, to which I'm currently favoring the former slightly due to the injuries in the offensive line(more on that soon).

Turner has played well in training camp and the preseason, arguably being more pro-ready at the moment than Gray with his route-running, releases, and hands.

The former Cowboys receiver has also been a good player on special teams, and head coach Kyle Shanahan lauded his effort following the Texans game.

I believe that Turner will eventually make the 53-man roster if Ambry Thomas is put on Injured Reserve along with Jimmie Ward, and since Poe would be subject to waivers, this is the most certain way to keep both players.

Tight End (3): George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley

The tight end position has another tough decision, as Ross Dwelley and Tyler Kroft have been battling for that final tight end spot to complement George Kittle and Charlie Woerner, who recently returned off the Physically Unable to Play(PUP) list following his core muscle injury.

While I've been an advocate of Kroft, given his ability to block in both the passing and running game, I'm giving the roster spot to Dwelley for his pass-catching abilities, which should be featured more often with Trey Lance under center.

I could definitely see this going either way, with both players being able to forgo waivers with their four years of accrued service, and believe that the tight end that misses the 53-man roster could be the practice squad player at the position this year, with Jordan Matthews out for the year with a torn ACL.

To me, Kroft is a closer replica to Woerner, with both showing the ability to block in the past, but haven't been high-echelon receiving options, especially after the former Bengal's injuries.

Kroft's durability raises questions, as he's missed a significant amount of time since his 404-yard season in 2017, and dependency has been an issue with this position group.

Additionally, Kroft's blocking abilities haven't been as good as previously advertised in the limited sample size this preseason, lessening the separation from Dwelley, who's never been a good blocker.

I could see the third spot going either way, with Troy Fumagalli being a dark horse candidate on the bubble, but I'm awarding it to Dwelley based on his good preseason and the familiarity in the system, having been with the 49ers for the past four seasons.

Offensive Line (9): Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill, Jaylon Moore, Colton McKivitz, Jason Poe

With the offensive line unit, there appear to be a significant amount of locks. The projected starting group of Williams, Banks, Brendel, Burford and McGlinchey are all locks, even if they potentially lose their starting spot, with Daniel Brunskill and Colton McKivitz seeming to have roster spots as well.

While Brunskill had an underwhelming training camp prior to his hamstring injury, he's the only quality backup that's seen any time at center this offseason, while having the versatility of playing all positions.

McKivitz was arguably the best backup offensive lineman in training camp, primarily playing on the outside, and currently seeming as the "first man up", starting next to Spencer Burford with McGlinchey out.

Jaylon Moore's spot can be seen in question, but the 49ers need tackle depth, especially with McGlinchey's injury, hence why I have him making the roster, although I've envisioned him as more of a guard in the NFL.

The major question is whether Jason Poe makes the 53-man roster. Due to his underwhelming size for an offensive lineman and rawness at the position, I'd expect him to make it past waivers to the practice squad if he is cut.

However, the 49ers are facing some injury concerns with McGlinchey and Brunskill, and may not choose to place either player on the Injured Reserve list to begin the season, meaning that healthy bodies are needed on gameday from the roster.

If the 49ers believe that Daniel Brunskill ends up being healthy for Week 1, I project they'll cut Jason Poe and bring him back on the practice squad, only carrying eight offensive linemen in that instance, just like last offseason. In this case, Malik Turner would then claim that final roster spot.

But, if there are questions about Brunskill's health, but not significant enough to warrant a trip to the Injured Reserve list, then I can envision Poe making the initial 53-man roster as he's been that ninth-best offensive lineman on the team. It's just a matter of whether the team will carry eight or nine at the position.

Similar to what I said about Turner earlier, I can see Poe making the 53-man roster with Ambry Thomas's roster spot if the cornerback goes on Injured Reserve to begin the season, but that would be after the initial cuts.

Defensive Line (10): Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Samson Ebukam, Kemoko Turay, Drake Jackson, Kevin Givens, Charles Omenihu, Jordan Willis, Hassan Ridgeway

Last year, the 49ers rostered 11 defensive linemen on their 53-man roster, although Maurice Hurst initially went to the Injured Reserve list.

With the team not having an injured defensive lineman, as well as an abundance of depth elsewhere on the roster, I think the initial 53-man roster will carry 10 defensive linemen, with versatile veteran Kerry Hyder missing the cut.

There are several locks with this position group as well, with Bosa, Armstead, Kinlaw, Ebukam, Jackson, and Omenihu being surefire locks given their draft position, contract, and pure talent.

In my eyes, Kemoko Turay and Kevin Givens are locks as well after their impressive performances in training camp at their respective positions.

Jordan Willis has shown enough as a run-defending presence to warrant a 53-man roster spot as well, leaving the last spot to Hassan Ridgeway or Kerry Hyder.

Ridgeway is predominantly an interior defensive lineman, while Hyder has lined up all over the formation, but the 49ers need more bodies on the interior, especially if Javon Kinlaw's durability issues arise once again, with Armstead, Kinlaw, and Givens being the only players at the position.

Ridgeway has a $900,000 dead cap hit if cut, leaving a financial burden to move on from the player they signed this offseason to a free-agent deal.

Hyder doesn't have to clear waivers and could join defensive tackle Kevin Atkins on the practice squad, potentially being that needed veteran presence in the locker room.

Linebacker (5): Fred Warner, Azeez Al-Shaair, Dre Greenlaw, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

The 49ers have a loaded linebacker room, once again, potentially raising questions as to whether a surprise candidate could make the roster.

There are currently four locks in my eyes, with that final spot, which I've given to Demetrius-Flannigan Fowles, being the only one in limbo with some potential candidates for the job.

Undrafted rookie Marcelino McCrary-Ball comes to mind after his solid training camp and preseason, where his speed and knack to make plays were on display.

However, McCrary-Ball still makes mental mistakes in the running game, which was seen during Thursday's game, and is a developmental candidate, despite being promising with his results initially.

But, with a championship window in the fold, I believe the 49ers will stay with their top five linebackers, letting McCrary-Ball and fellow undrafted rookie Segun Olubi develop on the practice squad during the season.

There is one instance in which I can foresee this group changing ahead of the 53-man roster deadline on August 30th: a Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles trade to recoup an asset as he's a restricted free agent next season, where'd he make nearly $2.6 million on the tender.

In that case, I'd expect McCrary-Ball to make the roster with his athleticism over Curtis Robinson, who's been a vocal leader at the MIKE with the second-team defense, but is lacking in the speed category in coverage.

Regardless, it's notable how many linebackers on this team can play the MIKE role, speaking to the talent and depth of this team.

Cornerback (6): Charvarius Ward, Emmanuel Moseley, Deommodore Lenoir, Samuel Womack, Tariq Castro-Fields, Ambry Thomas

There are four locks in this group: Ward, Moseley, Lenoir, and Womack.

The latter two have played well in training camp, with Lenoir showing significant improvement in his consistency from last season, positioning himself as the top cornerback off the bench, while Womack has impressed in the slot, despite being a rookie, hence why the 49ers were comfortable to cut Darqueze Dennard very early.

The question with the 49ers in this position is the number of players they're looking to carry, be it five or six corners.

Castro-Fields has impressed for his draft position, seeing time with the second-team defense at times over Thomas and being a bigger factor on the outside after struggling at times in the slot during OTAs and minicamp, according to reports, which I anticipated, as his traits were better suited for the boundary.

Thomas has struggled significantly in camp, raising questions as to whether the 49ers would legitimately cut him, even with his third-round draft status.

But, with the 49ers placing cornerback Jason Verrett on the PUP list to begin the season as I expected, as well as the recent injuries in the secondary at safety, a spot cleared for him in the secondary, with promise still being there despite his struggles this offseason.

With Thomas suffering a knee injury currently, the 49ers could place him on IR to begin the season, even if he's close to 100%, as the team has sufficient depth at the position.

The move would allow Thomas to heal physically and get his confidence back on track before returning back into the fold.

Safety (4): Jimmie Ward, Talanoa Hufanga, Tarvarius Moore, George Odum

The 49ers' safety room has been fairly clear-cut since the beginning of training camp, as the team didn't draft a player at the position and only signed George Odum in free agency.

These four safeties have consistently occupied the spots on the first and second-team defenses, so it's to no surprise that they're all on my 53-man projection.

With the safety room, there are two questions, which can be answered concurrently: Jimmie Ward's injury and Dontae Johnson's spot on the 53-man roster.

Jimmie Ward is almost certainly beginning the 2022 campaign on IR, according to head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch, after suffering a serious hamstring injury earlier in training camp, and could even be out till midseason, according to ProFootballDoc's David Chao, with a grade three strain.

Ward's placement on the IR list will free up a roster spot, which can go to defensive back Dontae Johnson, who has been lining up at safety all offseason.

Johnson is a vested veteran, meaning that he won't be subject to waivers, and can be brought back immediately once the IR move for Jimmie Ward is officially announced.

From there, the question will be: who starts opposite of Talanoa Hufanga come Week 1? Currently, the favorite appears to be George Odum, although Tarvarius Moore's athleticism may allow the 49ers to play more "Cover 1" and man-coverage packages, which they've shown a desire to do this offseason after adding top cornerback Charvarius Ward in free agency.

ST(3): Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

The same three as last year.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


  • PJ
    No disrespect but this is an absolutely awful projection! No way the team keeps 5 RB’s! They will keep 6 WR’s but not 5. Kerry Hyder is going to make the team. Ridgeway? Not so much. I can’t see Castro-Fields making it either. Trey Sermon is as good as gone.
    Aug 28, 2022 at 7:26 PM
  • e
    so only 3 of 9 teams that kept the QBs made the playoffs! pretty definitive, only 3. until you think about it, that's the same rate that all teams make the playoffs. not that they should keep 3 or not, just try not to fail at proportions/statistics
    Aug 28, 2022 at 7:00 PM


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