Breaking Down the 49ers 53-Man Roster: Problems, Questions, and Concerns

September 3, 2019

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I don’t envy what San Francisco 49ers’ general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have to do following the last preseason game.

 

The overall idea, take a 90-man roster and cut it down by roughly 40 percent, sounds easy. Take the best players possible, cut the players below the Mendoza line, be mindful of the dead money, and ultimately build a winning team.

 

It’s not that easy, and if it were, there’d be thousands of Twitter experts ready to take the seat of a pro football team executive.

 

Initially, I try not to put too much emotion into the 53-man roster; these snap reactions do nothing more than make the bile rise. But now that we’re into Week 1, I do have a handful of responses about who the 49er brass kept and who they cut. 

 

Problems

 

By now, I shouldn’t have to explain that I’m an offensive line guy before anything else. I’m overly sensitive and hypercritical of any roster move, veteran signing or draft pick – that’s just who I am.

 

Like in years prior, this 49er team is one offensive line injury away from a total disaster.

 

I firmly believe the starting offensive line has the right chemistry on and off the field. And, as I’ve noted before, communication among these men is far greater than sheer talent. 

 

We have to consider all possibilities, for good and ill, as we enter Week 1. Chief on my mind is how truly awful the reserve linemen are for the 49ers.

 

Tackles Justin Skule and Daniel Brunskill are not suitable back-ups for Staley or McGlinchey, let alone a 53-man NFL roster. It’s as if Lynch and Shanahan didn’t learn their lesson from former tackle Garry Gilliam, and decided to keep two unproven tackles. 

 

Great teams avoid these situations, but the 49ers have a head coach and general manager who don’t put serious investment in reserve offensive linemen. Until they learn the lesson, they’ll keep choosing linemen from the dung heap, and then hope the starters remain healthy.

 

Hope works best at a Las Vegas craps table, not in an NFL executive suite.

 

Questions

 

I’ve gone back and forth on whether third-year quarterback C.J. Beathard should be on the final roster, and still can’t come up with a definitive answer.

 

There’s a bit of me that thinks keeping three quarterbacks is a sensible solution, only because the 49ers have had the starter and backup get hurt during the same season. I’d rather Beathard remain the third-string quarterback than see the 49ers rekindle the on-again, off-again relationship with Tom Savage. 

 

But if I look at the other side of the coin, Beathard and another player would have been better traded for a reserve offensive lineman. Beathard is wasting a valuable spot on the roster, to do nothing more than get a handful of reps a week and pull down the rivets of his shoulder pads.

 

I don’t know why Shanahan has made Beathard his white whale. Maybe it’s pride, or perhaps he sees something more in Beathard that nearly everyone else is missing. But the 49ers needed an offensive lineman more than they needed a third-string quarterback.

 

Further, I wonder the reasoning behind cutting defensive lineman Damontre Moore. We can all agree the 49ers did not need another defensive lineman on the roster. But keep in mind this is the same team that signed tackle Shown Coleman last year, and then stashed him away on the inactive roster for the remainder of the season.

 

Moore wanted to play pro football this year, and sometimes hunger can make up for deficiencies in talent.  I believe he could have been a valuable reserve player, even if he played sporadically or just a few snaps per game.

 

Concerns

 

The lack of depth and talent in the 49ers’ secondary was my biggest issue last season.

 

Today, my doubts are still singing that same song.

 

I don’t think keeping safety Adrian Colbert would have eased my worried mind. And one good preseason game from Jimmie Ward isn’t enough to fill my cup with confidence.

 

The 49ers did not make any significant upgrades in the secondary. We don’t know what cornerback Jason Verrett can do, and I am reserving judgment until I see him play.

 

Otherwise, we’re seeing the same men on the field. The same men who made the same mental errors, blew coverages and generated just two interceptions last year.

 

Indeed, upgrades at the edge positions may help remove some of the burdens from the secondary – and maybe that’s enough to double or triple the interception tally this year.

 

What gets me through all these issues is the fact that this Sunday, I can watch real football in the afternoon.

 

For now, that thought is enough to erase the uncertainties and dread I might have about the final roster.

You can follow Bret on Twitter here!

 

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