The 49ers open the regular season on Sunday against the Carolina Panthers at Levi's Stadium. And after a weekend of cuts and one waiver claim, here is how their 53-man roster shapes up at the beginning of the regular season:
There was never a question from the moment the 49ers targeted and signed Hoyer on the first day of free agency that he was the starter. Beathard beat out Matt Barkley for the backup job, but Barkley is only a phone call away in case he is needed due to an injury. The 49ers also have undrafted rookie Nick Mullens in the building to serve on the practice squad.
Running back (4)
Hyde was the No. 1 running back all along, a status he strengthened during training camp when he reported in great shape. At 228 pounds, he said it’s the lightest he has been since high school. Breida, an undrafted rookie from Georgia Southern, clearly outperformed fourth-round draft pick Joe Williams, whom the 49ers placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury. “Carlos is going to be featured in this deal, but Matt Breida is very much a part of our plans,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. Mostert figures to be a core special teams player. The 49ers could also re-sign veteran Tim Hightower if they need help at any point in the season.
Wide receiver (6)
The 49ers retained six wide receivers, and their leading receiver from a year ago is not one of them. The new 49ers regime signed Jeremy Kerley to a contract extension in March – before they began adding the six receivers who ended up making the 53-man roster. Garçon and Goodwin are the starters, and Taylor takes over in the slot. Bolden and Bourne, both undrafted rookies, played their way onto the roster with their play on offense and special teams.
Tight end (3)
The trade that sent Vance McDonald to the Pittsburgh Steelers all but assured these three players of their spots on the 53-man roster. Kittle, a fifth-round draft pick, had a good offseason program and training camp. He could be in line to open the season as the starter, ahead of the two veterans. Paulsen is considered a blocking specialist.
Offensive line (9)
The 49ers did something about their shortage of guards on Thursday with the acquisition of Tomlinson in a trade with the Detroit Lions. It will be difficult for Tomlinson to win a starting job for Week 1, but it appears as if Beadles’ spot at left guard is the most vulnerable. Fusco is the starter at the other guard spot. The 49ers feel secure with left tackle Joe Staley, right tackle Trent Brown and center Daniel Kilgore. Joshua Garnett, a first-round pick in 2016, will spend the entire season on injured reserve after undergoing knee surgery.
Defensive line (10)
As training camp wound down, the 49ers had three defensive tackles competing for one backup job behind Buckner. In the end, the 49ers cut Quinton Dial and Sen’Derrick Marks, and placed Chris Jones on injured reserve. The 49ers claimed Cooper, a 2015 third-round pick of the Cleveland Browns, off waivers to replace all of them. Carradine, Mitchell, Buckner and Armstead appear to comprise the line on base downs. There will be a significant role for Thomas, the No. 3 overall pick. Pass-rushers Dumervil and Lynch also figure into the rotation.
The combination of Harold and Watson convinced the 49ers that Ahmad Brooks was expendable at the strong-side linebacker position. The 49ers feel very good about Bowman and Foster on the inside. Foster, who might already be the team's most dynamic player, has made a strong case to remain on the field for all of the 49ers’ defensive packages.
Robinson and Johnson convincingly won the starting jobs on the outside. And Williams may have come through with the best camp of any of the 49ers’ defensive backs. But after those three, there are some question marks. Reaser won the job over veteran Asa Jackson, who will remain with the club on a practice squad exemption. Witherspoon, a third-round draft pick, is worth developing.
Reid and Ward are big keys to Robert Saleh’s defense. While Reid looked good in his role as a box safety, there remain questions surrounding Ward. He sustained a hamstring injury during the conditioning test on the eve of training camp and has yet to fully recover. It is unclear if Ward will be available for the opening of the regular season. Tartt or Jerome would fill in at free safety if Ward is not cleared to play.
Gould has big shoes to fill, as he takes over for Phil Dawson, who now kicks for the Arizona Cardinals. Pinion is expected to make a big jump in production in his third season on the job.
DL Ronald Blair (designated to return)
WR Aaron Burbridge
G Joshua Garnett
LB Jimmie Gilbert*
CB Prince Charles Iworah
DB Chanceller James*
WR B.J. Johnson*
DT Chris Jones
DB Don Jones
LB Donavin Newsome*
CB Will Redmond
LB Malcolm Smith
RB Joe Williams*