The 49ers on Saturday cut down to the final 53-man roster for the 2018 season. With the names firmly in place, we can make an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses, gauging where they stack up ahead of Kyle Shanahan's second year as head coach.
Here is how the roster shook out.
QBs: Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard
No surprises here. Beathard didn’t play as well as anticipated during preseason, but he still has starter experience and familiarity with the system while being on a rookie deal. So he’s the perfect backup.
RBs: Alfred Morris, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Kyle Juszcyk
Three weeks ago Alfred Morris was sitting on his couch. Now, not only does he make the team, but he’s going to be featured in the offense with McKinnon (ACL) on his way to IR. Juszcyk and Breida were expected, but Mostert had to fight off a few other guys for that fourth spot. Just goes to show how much special teams means to head coaches.
WRs: Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Kendrick Bourne, Richie James
There was quite a battle during camp and the preseason for the 5th and 6th spots on the depth chart. There were a lot of capable guys that could’ve gotten those spots, and it would’ve made sense for a multitude of reasons. But Bourne and James were able to secure their spots on the team. Bourne was able to fight his way onto the roster last year, and he started to show up the last few games of the season. James essentially made himself “un-cuttable” by having a great camp and preseason.
TEs: George Kittle, Garret Celek, Cole Wick
We haven’t seen Kittle since the preseason opener, and he was sorely missed. Drops plagued the rest of the tight ends throughout preseason. For the 49ers' sake, his return will help mend the pitiful performances in the red zone. Celek’s versatility allows Shanahan to do a lot of different things with the offense. Wick was able to beat out Cole Hikutini for the final spot. Wick showed some promise both in blocking and receiving, which helped his case to make the team, while Hikutini had a couple costly drops.
OL: Joe Staley, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person, Mike McGlinchey, Josh Garnett, Matt Tobin, Erik Magnuson, Shon Coleman, Gary Gilliam
Garnett surprised a lot of people who thought that he wouldn’t be able to fit in Kyle Shanahan’s zone blocking system. He competed hard enough and played well enough to challenge Person for the starting right guard spot, but it appears as if Shanahan is going to stick with Person for at least the start of the season. Magnuson will begin the season on IR, but will be eligible to return later in the season. The 49ers traded a seventh round to the Browns pick for Coleman on Friday, so they view him as good depth.
DL: DeForest Buckner, Soloman Thomas, Arik Armstead, Earl Mitchell, Cassius Marsh, Sheldon Day, D.J. Jones, Jullian Taylor
We got a glimpse of the defensive line at full strength this preseason, before suffering some injuries. The real surprise here is Jullian Taylor. Just like Richie James, Taylor made himself impossible to cut by having a monster preseason. The interior of the line is the strength of this team, and with a plethora of depth, it’ll be interesting to see how Saleh uses everyone.
LBs: Malcolm Smith, Fred Warner, Elijah Lee, Mark Nzeocha, Dekoda Watson, Brock Coyle
Foster will miss the first two games with a suspension that relates to gun and drug charges he faced during the offseason. In the meantime, Smith, Coyle and the rookie Warner will have to pick up the slack while Foster is out. It appears Nzeocha has won the starting SAM position after the 49ers traded Eli Harold to the Lions and released Pita Taumoepenu.
DBs: Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Wuan Williams, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert, Tarvarius Moore, D.J. Reed, Greg Mabin, Antone Exum
With three of the four starters suffering season-ending injuries last year, depth in the defensive backfield is extremely important. Ward, Moore and Reed are all versatile players that can lineup in multiple spots if injuries should occur.
Specialists: Robbie Gould, Bradley Pinion, Kyle Nelson
No real surprises here. The only one that was in any danger was Pinion, but he was able to beat out Jeff Locke for the punter spot.
Injured Reserve: Marcell Harris, Jerick McKinnon
Suspended: Reuben Foster, Victor Bolden Jr.
Non-Football Injury: Kentavius Street
Media courtesy Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group