• James Jones

Jones: 53-man roster projection after 49ers-Broncos' game

The San Francisco 49ers' loss to the Denver Broncos in their second preseason contest gave more insight into who head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch could choose to represent the team in 2017.

With two preseason games remaining before the one and only cut-down from 90 men to 53, the 49ersHub have two more updates at the end of those contests.

Quarterback: Brian Hoyer, C.J. Beathard, Matt Barkley

After two-weeks of producing at a high level after coming into the game with a deficit, QB C.J. Beathard is furthering his grasp on the second quarterback spot. QB Brian Hoyer is all but assured of getting the opening day start while QB Matt Barkley could be relegated to being inactive on game days.

Running back: Carlos Hyde, Tim Hightower, Matt Breida, Joe Williams

I still predict that the 49ers head into the season with four running backs, with RB Carlos Hyde being the starter as long as he can stay healthy. This unit is fluid and will almost certainly change as the preseason progresses. RB Tim Hightower is the veteran backup but RBs Matt Breida and Joe Williams should continue to show that they cannot be kept off of the field.

Fullback: Kyle Juszczyk

Was there ever any doubt?

Wide receiver: Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremy Kerley, Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne

If this looks eerily familiar to my wideout projection after last weeks game in Kansas City, that’s because they’re identical. Nothing changes here as WRs Aldrick Robinson, Trent Taylor, and Kendrick Bourne continued to cement themselves as mainstays at their position.

Tight end: Vance McDonald, George Kittle, Logan Paulsen

A one time trade piece, TE Vance McDonald once again got the start, ending with two catches for 14 yards. The incumbent appears to have a spot on this team after being deemed expendable by the front office earlier this offseason. That being said, TE George Kittle’s touchdown from Beathard was a thing of beauty and he should move to the No. 1 tight end before too long.

Offensive Tackle: Joe Staley, Trent Brown, Garry Gilliam

LT Joe Staley of course is the mainstay on an offensive line that allowed 47 sacks in 2016. RT Trent Brown is the up and comer at the tackle position and with Broncos' All-Pro linebacker Von Miller calling him the best right tackle in the NFL this week, we can see why. T Gary Gilliam was acquired via free agency after the Seattle Seahawks declined to match the offer sheet from the 49ers this offseason. He has shown good in training camp and solidified his position on the team.

Offensive guard: Zane Beadles, Brandon Fusco, Joshua Garnett

G Zane Beadles and G Brandon Fusco should be the opening day starters at the guard positions, with G Joshua Garnett out for at least another month following knee surgery.

Center: Daniel Kilgore, Tim Barnes

The 49ers traded for C Jeremy Zuttah earlier this offseason. After failing to show the coaching staff that he was worth said trade, the team released him earlier this week. The move means that C Daniel Kilgore is the man who will be called on the snap the ball in 2017. Obviously the team is hoping he can stay healthy for a full 16 games after showing a penchant for landing on the disabled list in previous campaigns

Defensive tackle: DeForest Buckner. Earl Mitchell, D.J. Jones, Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial

This defensive line is going to a special unit as time progresses. The free agent signing of DT Earl Mitchell was a great move by Lynch with the nose tackle showing why the front office was wise to ink him to a deal.

Defensive end: Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Elvis Dumervil, Aaron Lynch

Another underrated part of this new defense. Thomas has shown a relentless motor to go along with a high football IQ. DE Aaron Lynch reported to camp in much better shape than last season and it showed in the first preseason game against Kansas City. Obviously DE Arik Armstead and DE Elvis Dumervil aren’t going anywhere.

Outside linebacker: Ahmad Brooks, Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson

The staff appears to be high on LB Eli Harold after it was looking like he could be a camp cut. He is by all accounts pushing LB Ahmad Brooks for the starting strong side linebacker. There is speculation that Brooks could be released or that Harold could be traded, time will tell.

Inside linebacker: NaVorro Bowman, Reuben Foster, Ray Ray Armstrong, Brock Coyle

LB NaVorro Bowman appears to still be rounding back into game shape after missing most of last season with an achilles injury. LB Reuben Foster on the other hand looked just fine after suffering an AC joint sprain in practice earlier in the week.

Cornerback: Rashard Robinson, Keith Reaser, Ahkello Witherspoon, Dontae Johnson, K’Waun Williams

CB Rashard Robinson had another rough outing this week and is beginning to give the team and fanbase some cause for concern. His pass interference penalty in the first quarter set up Denver’s first touchdown. That being said, Shanahan said after the game that the team is sticking with him and not entertaining the idea of movin0g DB Jimmie Ward back to cornerback.

Safeties: Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tarrt, Lorenzo Jerome

S Eric Reid was all over the field in Saturday nights game and is showing why the new defensive scheme is good for his skill set. DB Jimmie Ward has yet to play this preseason as he tries to get healthy. It will be imperative that this happens soon as Ward has never played a down at safety in the NFL.

Kicker: Robbie Gould

K Robbie Gould was brought in this offseason after the departure of Phil Dawson. He has no competition.

Punter: Bradley Pinion

While we still miss Andy Lee, P Bradley Pinion is good and has no one coming for his job anytime soon.

Long snapper: Kyle Nelson

Team MVP? Probably not but LS Kyle Nelson knows his job and does it well.

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