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49ers roster projection ahead of preseason opener vs. Chiefs

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The 49ers have wrapped up their second week of practices to open training camp.

Next up: An actually pretend game against the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 49ers open the preseason on Saturday night at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara.

Jimmy Garoppolo and the starters are slated to play one series. Then, rookie Trey Lance will finish out the first half — as long as he gets somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 snaps. The lower half of the 49ers’ 90-man roster will play the second half.

Here is a projection of the 49ers’ regular-season limit of 53 players at this point in training camp:

Quarterback

Making the cut (3): Jimmy Garoppolo, Trey Lance, Nate Sudfeld

Still in the picture: Josh Rosen

“I think Trey's going to make the team so he doesn't have to go out there and freak out about that.” OK, that settles that. You heard it directly from coach Kyle Shanahan: Lance has a spot on the team. We can assume that Garoppolo will be on the team, too. The 49ers guaranteed Sudfeld a quarter-million dollars, so he looks to be in solid shape to make the 53-man roster, too.

Running back

Making the cut (5): Raheem Mostert, Trey Sermon, Kyle Juszczyk (FB), Elijah Mitchell, Wayne Gallman Jr.

Still in the picture: JaMycal Hasty, Josh Hokit (FB)

PUP list: Jeff Wilson Jr.

Mostert and Sermon can share the load. Mitchell could turn into the third-down back. Gallman or Hasty? There’s room for one. Not both. Gallman played a lot of special teams as a rookie with the New York Giants in 2017. He did not play in the kicking game at all last season, when he took over as the main back and was the team’s leading rusher after Saquon Barkley’s injury. The 49ers should be able to bring back Hasty to the practice squad.

 

Wide receiver

Making the cut (6): Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Sherfield, Mohamed Sanu, Richie James, Jalen Hurd

Still in the picture: Travis Benjamin, Nsimba Webster, River Cracraft, Jauan Jennings, Austin Watkins Jr.

Benjamin, Webster and Cracraft are very much in the picture due to their return skills. But, for now, we’re giving James the edge. He is the most likely of the team’s bubble players to get claimed off waivers if he does not make the initial cut. There is a good chance each of the others will still be available later in the season, if needed. Hurd gets a spot on the 53-man roster because of potential and his unique skillset. He finally showed during practice on Thursday some of the elements that still make him so attractive to Shanahan as a play caller.

Tight end

Making the cut (3): George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner

Still in the picture: MyCole Pruitt, Jordan Matthews, Joshua Perkins

The 49ers have kept four tight ends on their roster in the past. It is not a guarantee this year, though. Pruitt’s injury early in camp casts plenty of doubt on his immediate future. Until he gets healthy, he is on the outside looking in. Pruitt is the most accomplished of any of the tight ends as a blocker, so he still has time to get healthy and win that spot.

Offensive line

Making the cut (8): Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Alex Mack, Mike McGlinchey, Daniel Brunskill, Aaron Banks, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore

Still in the picture: Tom Compton, Shon Coleman, Dakota Shepley, Jake Brendel, Senio Kelemete, Isaiah Williams, Corbin Kaufusi, Alfredo Gutierrez

Injured reserve: Justin Skule

The presence of Brunskill gives the 49ers a lot of flexibility. If the rookie, Banks, wins the starting job at right guard, Brunskill could easily be the team’s best backup at each spot on the offense line. The one position that is open for competition and debate is the swing tackle. Coleman appeared to be in position to win that job in 2019, but he sustained a fractured ankle in the first preseason game. He has not played an NFL regular-season game since starting every week at right tackle for the Cleveland Browns in 2017.

Defensive line

Making the cut (10): Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, Samson Ebukam, D.J. Jones, Dee Ford, Maurice Hurst, Arden Key, Kevin Givens, Kentavius Street

Still in the picture: Zach Kerr, Eddie Vanderdoes, Darrion Daniels, Alex Barrett, Eddie Yarbrough, Shilique Calhoun

 

Suspended list: Jordan Willis

The post-draft projection did not have Ford on the team due to all the concerns about his physical condition. But, now, he is looking good. Ford is on pace to be a major factor as a situational pass rusher. The toughest call is Kerr, who will undoubtedly be in the NFL — for the 49ers or some other team — this season. But with a deep group of interior linemen who are mostly two-down players, it makes more sense to keep younger guys as part of their D-line rotation.

Linebacker

Making the cut (6): Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Marcell Harris, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Jonas Griffith

Still in the picture: James Burgess Jr., Justin Hilliard, Donald Payne, Elijah Sullivan

The 49ers had a scare early in camp when Al-Shaair went down with a knee injury. But it looked worse than it was, and he is on pace to be the strong-side linebacker on base downs. Harris and Flannigan-Fowles have backgrounds at safety, and that gives them the necessary tools to play linebacker in today’s game. They are solid bets to win roster spots. Griffith has worked and hustled himself into position to win the last spot. He can nail it down if he crushes it on special teams.

Defensive back

Making the cut (9): Emmanuel Moseley, Jason Verrett, Jimmie Ward, K’Waun Williams, Tavon Wilson, Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, Talanoa Hufanga, Jared Mayden

Still in the picture: Dontae Johnson, Ken Webster, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Kai Nacua, Alexander Myres, B.W. Webb

PUP list: Jaquiski Tartt, Tarvarius Moore

Injured reserve: Tony Jefferson 

All NFL teams are allowed a maximum of 16 players on the practice squad. Many of those who do not make the initial 53-man roster will stick around and be advised to remain at the ready in case injuries force the 49ers to call on the reserves. Three-quarters of the 49ers’ starting defensive backfield look really good. One of the few question marks on the team is at strong safety. Wilson, Hufanga and Mayden are looking to win the spot next to Ward.

RELATED: 49ers' Lance interest was a secret worth keeping, even from QB

Special teams

Making the cut (3): Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

Still in the picture: None

Gould, Wishnowsky and Pepper are each signed through the 2022 season, so the combination of kicker, punter/holder and long-snapper can be expected to look this way for at least the next two seasons.

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