The 49ers are two-thirds of the way through "training camp mode" in the most unusual offseason since, well, forever.
Because the 49ers -- and the other 31 NFL teams -- did not get an offseason program to commence the evaluation process, every practice, every workout, every meeting takes on greater significance for the players attempting to earn spots on the bottom half of the roster.
Injuries and performances have changed some of our initial projections for the 49ers’ roster from the time the club first hit the practice field nearly two weeks ago.
Here is the mid-camp update of the 49ers’ projected roster for the 2020 season:
In: Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard Out: None Changes: None If the 49ers kept three quarterbacks a year ago during non-pandemic times, they are certainly retaining three in 2020. The 49ers have to feel good about Mullens and Beathard in reserve. They can continue to win games if someone were needed in place of Garoppolo.
Running back (4)
In: Raheem Mostert, Kyle Juszczyk, Tevin Coleman Jerick McKinnon Out: JaMycal Hasty, Jeff Wilson, Salvon Ahmed, Josh Hokit Changes: Wilson (Out) Hasty has looked good. He is worth keeping around, at least on the practice squad as a third-down backup for McKinnon. There does not appear to be a game-day role for Wilson at this stage with Mostert, Coleman and McKinnon looking good in camp. Hokit is the only fullback behind Juszczyk on the club. He is making a case for the practice squad, but he still has some work to do.
Wide receiver (6)
In: Kendrick Bourne, Brandon Aiyuk, Trent Taylor, Deebo Samuel, Dante Pettis, Jauan Jennings, Richie James (non-football injury) Out: Tavon Austin, J.J. Nelson, Jaron Brown, Shawn Poindexter Changes: Samuel, Pettis, Jennings (In); James (NFI); Jalen Hurd, Chris Thompson (IR) Assuming Samuel is cleared to open the regular season, the 49ers’ top four wide receivers appear to be set: Samuel, Bourne, Aiyuk and Taylor. Pettis is looking more and more like the fifth man. If he can nail down the return job, he will have a significant role on the team. It seems unlikely another team would claim Jennings off waivers, but I’m not sure that’s a chance the 49ers should take. If they get in a bind, they can always re-sign Austin, Nelson or Brown. At least one of them could end up on the practice squad, too.
Tight end (3)
In: George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley Out: Jordan Reed, Chase Harrell, Erik Swoope Changes: Reed (Out) More than likely, injuries will play a factor here in how many tight ends the 49ers retain on their roster. Dwelley’s foot injury kept him out of practices over the weekend. Reed has yet to take part in a practice, so it’s difficult to project him winning a roster spot when he can’t even get on the field.
Offensive line (8)
In: Trent Williams, Mike McGlinchey, Laken Tomlinson, Tom Compton, Daniel Brunskill, Ben Garland, Colton McKivitz, Justin Skule, Weston Richburg (physically unable to perform) Out: Hroniss Grasu, William Sweet, Jaryd Jones-Smith, Kofi Amichia, Ross Reynolds Changes: Spencer Long (Retired) Brunskill might be the starter at right guard. But he also could be the line’s sixth man, capable of filling in at any of the five positions. He is such a valuable piece to this puzzle. Currently, Brunskill is working at center with Garland (ankle) out for a couple of weeks and Richburg ticketed to remain on the PUP list to open the season. Skule is going to have to fight off the other backup tackles to retain his backup job. If Reynolds checks out OK physically, he should be back on the practice squad.
Defensive line (10)
In: Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, D.J. Jones, Javon Kinlaw, Solomon Thomas, Kentavius Street, Ronald Blair, Kerry Hyder, Kevin Givens, Jullian Taylor (non-football injury) Out: Dion Jordan, Darrion Daniels, Jonathan Kongbo Changes: Hyder, Givens (In); Taylor (NFI) The 49ers have really good depth here. There will be a player or two capable of playing in the league who will get bad news on cut day. Givens has put enough good film out there that the 49ers would be running a risk of losing him if their intention is to bring him back to the practice squad. Daniels has been impressive, but as an undrafted rookie with no preseason game film, it’s doubtful another team would claim him.
In: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Kwon Alexander, Azeez Al-Shaair, Mark Nzeocha, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles Out: Joe Walker Changes: Flannigan-Fowles (In); Joe Walker (Out) The 49ers figure to keep six linebackers. Flannigan-Fowles has converted to middle linebacker. Walker is also in that spot, so it’s going to be one or the other. The player who has the most upside, versatility and special teams impact will be the winner. That's why the scale has tipped to Flannigan-Fowles.
Defensive back (10)
In: Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, K’Waun Williams, Tarvarius Moore, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, Marcell Harris, Jamar Taylor Out: Tim Harris, Johnathan Cyprien, Dontae Johnson, Jared Mayden, Evan Foster Changes: Taylor (In) It looks as if Taylor’s versatility and experience have put him on solid footing for a roster spot. He has taken over at nickel back during Williams’ absence with a calf injury. Cyprien, a recent veteran pickup, is aiming for a roster spot. But he might remain in the building as a veteran member of the practice squad.
In: K-Robbie Gould, P-Mitch Wishnowsky, LS-Kyle Nelson Out: None Changes: None The three guys in these spots will be the three guys the team is counting to fill those roles. Nothing to see here. Move on, please.
Practice squad (16)
RB Jeff Wilson RB JaMycal Hasty WR Tavon Austin WR Shawn Poindexter TE Jordan Reed TE Chase Harrell OL Kofi Amichia OL Ryan Reynolds OL Jaryd Jones-Smith DL Darrion Daniels DL Jonathan Kongbo DL Dion Jordan LB Joe Walker DB Tim Harris DB Jared Mayden DB Johnathan Cyprien