49ers agree to multi-year contract extensions with Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch →
placeholder image

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Breaking down the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster

Rohan Chakravarthi
Aug 29, 2023 at 4:19 PM--

Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above.
The San Francisco 49ers have one of the NFL's strongest teams top-to-bottom due to their core of elite players they've developed via the draft, and obtained via free agency or the trade market.

However, even the strongest teams face tough roster decisions come roster cutdown time, and the 49ers are no different this year, with some position groups stronger than others, which led to some intriguing training camp battles.

The cutdown date has finally come and gone, and the 49ers have released their initial 53-man roster, which includes some surprise cut candidates, and some differences according to my projections.

Quarterback (3): Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen

My Projection: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold

The San Francisco 49ers ultimately kept all three of their quarterback options on the 53-man roster. I think that was a mistake.

After the trade for Trey Lance, the 49ers saved themselves a roster spot at the quarterback position that they could've applied elsewhere, but instead, the team elected to keep Brandon Allen on their initial 53, locking him in as QB3 for the season.

Around the NFL, there were a plethora of quarterbacks released ahead of the 53-man deadline, while there were a number of available options in free agency, had Brandon Allen been cut and not made it back to the practice squad.

With Lance, given his contract and talent, you had to keep a third. That wasn't the case with Allen, and the 49ers unnecessarily spent a third roster spot as well.

Running Back (4): Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price

My Projection: Christian McCaffrey, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Tyrion Davis-Price

This was a clear-cut room. The 49ers have one of the strongest running back room they've had under Kyle Shanahan after keeping all four of their top options this offseason.

Fullback (1): Kyle Juszczyk

My Projection: Kyle Juszczyk

One comment here: the 49ers should want fullback Jack Colleto back on the practice squad, but it's unclear whether he'll make it after previously garnering interest during the draft when making it through as an undrafted free agent.

Colleto would be a valuable keep, as he could take over the fullback position in 2024, and serve as a versatile chess piece, similar to how the 49ers use Juzczyk currently, at a much cheaper cost.

Wide Receiver (6): Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray, Ronnie Bell

My Projection: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray, Ronnie Bell

The wide receiver room seemed pretty clear-cut after Ronnie Bell established himself during the preseason.

However, expect some roster maneuvering here, as one or both of Danny Gray and Ray-Ray McCloud could hit Injured Reserve(IR), paving the way for one of Chris Conley and Willie Snead to make the 53-man roster, while the other hits the practice squad, along with Tay Martin, should they make it.

Tight End (4): George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Brayden Willis, Ross Dwelley

My Projection: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Cameron Latu, Brayden Willis

While I included Cameron Latu in my projection, I noted on our podcast yesterday that there was a likelihood the 49ers would place the third-round rookie on season-ending IR, stashing the struggling tight end for the season and allowing him to reset for next year, while rostering another player.

The 49ers did exactly that, which I believed was the right move, and they brought in Ross Dwelley as the fourth tight end, which I wasn't as excited about.

I felt that Troy Fumagalli should've earned the final spot after a solid preseason and end of camp, but the 49ers went with consistency and reliability in Ross Dwelley, who has been with the team through his entire six-year career.

Offensive Line (9): Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore, Jon Feliciano, Matt Pryor, Nick Zakelj

My Projection: Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore, Jon Feliciano, Ilm Manning

The 49ers went deeper than I expected at offensive line, rostering nine players at the weakest position on the team in regards to depth.

However, there were a few discrepancies between my projection and the actual group the 49ers ended up rostering.

The offensive line was the one group where I didn't really factor in roster politics, as the 49ers didn't have much talent in the group, but they played a role once again.

Jaylon Moore and Matt Pryor both made the roster because the 49ers don't have a swing tackle on the team; the former has played only on the left side, while the latter has exclusively lined up at right tackle.

Pryor had a solid preseason, but there are still justified questions about the talent level of the two players should a starter get injured, potentially leaving the window open for an outside signing or trade.

Zakelj makes the roster, despite an uneven camp and preseason, due to his versatility and the likelihood of him being claimed via waivers, given the lack of capable backup offensive linemen around the NFL.

Ilm Manning, the 6'2, 295-pound tackle who looked solid during the preseason, now hits waivers. Despite having solid play, it seems the 49ers felt he could make it back to the practice squad, given that he hasn't shown any film on the interior, which is where he'll likely be forced to line up, and his size, which limits his upside and role.

Leroy Watson, Jason Poe, and Joey Fisher are other practice squad candidates in the likelihood that they both clear waivers.

Defensive Line(8): Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Drake Jackson, Kevin Givens, Clelin Ferrell, Kalia Davis, Robert Beal, Javon Kinlaw

My Projection: Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Drake Jackson, Kevin Givens, Clelin Ferrell, T.Y. McGill, Austin Bryant, Javon Kinlaw

There were two discrepancies with my defensive line projection, as the 49ers elected to roster their younger candidates, cutting some veterans who are expected to earn 53-man roster spots after IR moves are announced tomorrow.

Both Robert Beal and Kalia Davis made the roster, as the 49ers likely feared they would be claimed on waivers, given the former's traits and the latter's solid preseason game and intrigue on the interior.

As a result, Austin Bryant and Kerry Hyder were cut, but both are expected back on the 53-man roster, according to Matt Maiocco, tomorrow.

Other cut candidates included T.Y. McGill, who I thought could make the 53-man roster, Alex Barrett, and Marlon Davidson, who are all practice squad candidate.

Davidson had a good preseason as well, and made a strong case to make the 53. If he clears waivers, the 49ers should definitely keep him around.

Linebacker (6): Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Jalen Graham, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Dee Winters

My Projection: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Jalen Graham, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Dee Winters

My final projection was exactly what the 49ers did at linebacker, including the move of rostering Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles in favor of fan-favorite Marcelino McCrary-Ball.

Flannigan-Fowles had a $1.25 million dead cap hit, and ended the preseason well, while McCrary-Ball was up-and-down, leading to the move.

I anticipate at least one of McCrary-Ball and Curtis Robinson to make the practice squad, possibly leaving the 49ers with each of their eight top linebacker options after a trade never materialized.

Cornerback (5): Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaiah Oliver, Samuel Womack, Ambry Thomas

My Projection: Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaiah Oliver, Samuel Womack, Ambry Thomas, and D'Shawn Jamison

The 49ers elected to go with just five cornerbacks, cutting both D'Shawn Jamison and Qwuantrezz Knight, who each made cases for the 53-man roster.

Jamison was the real surprise, as I felt he had compiled a good body of work through the offseason, and could've been the potential Week 1 returner.

The 49ers hope both will make the 53-man roster, as they could be options in 2024 for the active roster.

Safety (4): Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson, Ji'Ayir Brown, and George Odum

My Projection: Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson, Ji'Ayir Brown, and George Odum

After the 49ers announced that Tayler Hawkins would be on season-ending IR, essentially stashing him for next season, the 49ers' safety room was very clear. The team has four true options, and rostered all of them.

An underrated storyline? The baker cyst injury for Talanoa Hufanga, which deserves monitoring throughout the season, and could be significant down the line.

ST(3): Jake Moody, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

My Projection: Jake Moody, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

The 49ers did the expected and kept Jake Moody on their 53-man roster, although they'll likely make a corresponding move in regards to their Week 1 kicker.

The 49ers could do one of two things: Keep Jake Moody on the 53-man roster and move him immediately to IR while signing a kicker to the active roster or keep Moody on the 53-man roster and sign a kicker to the practice squad, calling him up for the first few weeks while Moody rehabs.
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.
Nobody's perfect. Did you find a mistake in this article?
Report it.


Facebook Comments

Do not use the comments to notify us of errors in the article. Editors may not see it. Instead, report errors here.

More San Francisco 49ers News

placeholder image

49ers sign CB Anthony Brown to 53-man roster

By David Bonilla
Sep 19

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the San Francisco 49ers are signing cornerback Anthony Brown to a one-year deal, adding him to the 53-man roster. Former Cowboys' CB Anthony Brown, who tore his Achilles while with Dallas last season and was on Pittsburgh's practice squad until this week, signed today with the 49ers' 53-man roster, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 19, 2023 On

placeholder image

Stock up, stock down from 1st half of 49ers vs. Giants

By Rohan Chakravarthi
19 hrs

The San Francisco 49ers are leading through the first half on Thursday Night Football, holding a two-score lead at 17-6 heading into the second half. The 49ers came into the game as overwhelming favorites, but started slow offensively with an early punt after an initial field goal drive. But, San Francisco rebounded with two touchdown drives to go into the half up 17-6 after the Giants finished the first half with a field goal. Stock Up DT Javon Hargrave Defensive tackle Javon Hargrave notched his second sack of the season, and has continued to

placeholder image

Stock up, stock down from 1st half of 49ers vs. Rams

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 17

The San Francisco 49ers are in a tight race with their division rivals, as they're tied 17-17 at halftime with the Los Angeles Rams in Week 2 at SoFi Stadium. The 49ers came into the game as overwhelming favorites, but the Rams offense has continued to build off their Week 1 performance with a strong showing on Sunday, leading to a close game at the half. Stock Up HC Kyle Shanahan For the second consecutive week, head coach Kyle Shanahan has called a strong first half offensively, leading to a solid showing with 17 first-half

placeholder image

49ers roster moves: CB Anthony Brown re-signed, CB Tre Swilling waived

By David Bonilla
4 mins

The San Francisco 49ers announced they have re-signed cornerback Anthony Brown to a one-year deal. To make room on the roster, the team waived cornerback Tre Swilling. The Niners released Brown on Thursday, just hours ahead of their game against the New York Giants. That move came just days after initially signing Brown to the 53-man roster. The 49ers will likely try to re-sign Swilling to the practice squad. On Thursday, the cornerback was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster. He played 19 snaps on special teams against the


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone