The general public got its first glimpse of the 2017 edition of the 49ers on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium.
An announced crowd of more than 25,000 watched the team’s final practice before a day off. The 49ers now head into a week that culminates with their exhibition opener
Saturday Friday night against the Kansas City Chiefs.
The day producted two significant injury developments:
--Linebacker Malcolm Smith’s season-ending pectoral tear is a big blow to the team. The 49ers will turn to rookie Reuben Foster and Ray-Ray Armstrong to take it from here.
--Guard Joshua Garnett was in competition for a starting job. With him expected to be out of action for at least a month – approximatley four to six weeks – due to a knee condition, it looks as if Zane Beadles has a clear path to remain as a starter.
Here is a look at NBCSportsBayArea.com’s current roster projection. Of course, there are still plenty of practices and four exhibition games to allow for roster fluctuations:
Hoyer has been extremely consistent on the practice field while also owning the role of starting quarterback from a leadership standpoint. There’s solid competition for the No. 2 job between Barkley and Beathard. “They’ve been competing,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “I think they’ve had even reps. I think it’s a good battle for us. We’ve been looking at it every day and they’re going to make it tough on us.”
RUNNING BACK/FULLBACK (5)
FB Kyle Juszczyk
Williams, a fourth-round draft pick, has picked it up, as Breida is no longer clearly the best rookie on the roster. Kapri Bibbs and Raheem Mostert remain in the picture. The 49ers acquired Bibbs from the Broncos in a draft-day trade. It’s uncertain how much time he will miss with a shoulder injury sustained during Saturday’s practice.
WIDE RECEIVER (6)
The top five spots appear established. Burbridge wins his way onto the roster based on his strong showing on special teams. DeAndre Smelter, Victor Bolden, Kendrick Bourne and DeAndre Carter have shown enough to remain in the battle for spots on the roster and/or practice squad. Veteran Louis Murphy is playing catchup.
TIGHT END (3)
Vance McDonald is making a solid run at holding onto his spot with the team. Trade talks surrounding McDonald could begin again if Kittle gets healthy, remains healthy, and proves he is an every-down option. Paulsen and Hikutini could have specialized roles as a blocker and receiver, respectively. Garrett Celek and Blake Bell are in fights to hold onto their roster spots, too.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
LT Joe Staley
LG Zane Beadles
C Daniel Kilgore
RG Brandon Fusco
RT Trent Brown
Zuttah, who made the Pro Bowl last season while with the Baltimore Ravens, has not distinguished himself, yet. His roster spot is not assured, but he has value because of his versatility to play center and both guard positions. Veteran center Tim Barnes has a chance to play his way onto the roster in the next month. The 49ers could keep as many as three of the young, developmental players on the practice squad.
DEFENSIVE LINE (9)
LE Solomon Thomas
NT Earl Mitchell
DT DeForest Buckner
RE Arik Armstead
Quinton Dial is a starter in this league. But he does not appear to be a good fit in the 49ers’ new 4-3 defensive scheme. The presence of Mitchell and D.J. Jones at nose tackle could make Dial a strong trade candidate. Lynch has done everything asked of him, but he still has more work to do. His ability to also serve as a backup at strong side linebacker gives the 49ers some flexibility with its roster. Rookie Pita Taumoepenu looks to be targeted for the practice squad. (Updated: Carradine and Ronald Blair are probably competing for one of the final spots in this group. Both are lining up at the LDE, where Thomas will eventually take over as the starter. Carradine has been with the first team, while Blair is working primarily with the third string.)
SLB Ahmad Brooks
MLB NaVorro Bowman
WLB Reuben Foster
Malcolm Smith’s season-ending injury creates a roster spot for someone who would have been on the outside looking in. Eli Harold is out indefinitely with a concussion. Harold and Watson are likely fighting for the same spot. Coyle has special-teams value.
Rookie Adrian Colbert, who sustained an ankle sprain during practice, is big-bodied cornerback who appears ticketed for the practice squad. Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, should be a lock on the 53-man roster but has the look of a player who will be inactive during the regular season as the 49ers continue to groom him.
Ward is expected to be ready to be activated off the physically-unable-to-perform list in mid-August. Jerome and fellow undrafted rookie Chanceller James have opened eyes. James is knocking on the door for a roster spot, and he can win a job if he proves his value as a core special-teams contributor. Veterans Vinnie Sunseri and Don Jones also remains in the conversation.
This group is set, as Gould replaces Phil Dawson as the kicker. It remains to be seen whether Gould or Pinion will handle the kickoff chores.