San Francisco 49ers running back Glenn Winston (31) is congratulated by Asante Cleveland, left, and Kyle Nelson after running for a 27-yard touchdown during the fourth quarter of an NFL preseason football game against the San Diego Chargers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/ Mathew Sumner)
The 49ers must reduce their roster to 53 players today. Here’s the list of those who have been cut and those bubble players who have appeared to have made the initial roster. The team can begin building its 10-man practice squad on Sunday.
T Carter Bykowski
TE Asante Cleveland
Paul Kitagaki Jr./ The Bee
Aldon Smith will miss nine games this year as he serves a league-issued suspension. He is eligible to play in both contests against the Seahawks, however.
The NFL Players Association, which negotiated a nine-game suspension on Aldon Smith’s behalf, released the following statement from the 49ers’ outside linebacker Saturday morning:
"I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire 49ers organization and 49ers fans for not being able to contribute on the field for the next several weeks. Over the last year, I have learned a lot and I’m working hard to grow from my experiences. I want to thank my family and friends, my teammates, my union and the 49ers for supporting me during this process. I will be at work daily to participate in all permitted work activities, and to support my teammates, just as they have supported me.”
Smith, 24, can attend meetings and work out at the 49ers facility, but he can’t practice with teammates. He is eligible to return to full activities on Monday, Nov. 10, one day after the 49ers visit the Saints.
-- Matt Barrows
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
San Diego Chargers running back Donald Brown (34) runs from San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/ Marcio Jose Sanchez)
The 49ers will be without their best pass rusher to start the season.
Aldon Smith and the 49ers on Friday received the news theyd been bracing for since last year: The teams star outside linebacker has been suspended for nine games without pay this season for his long list of legal run-ins. Smith is eligible to return to the playing field Nov. 10, one day after the 49ers game at New Orleans.
The National Football League Players Association negotiated on Smiths behalf, and as a result, he will be allowed to be on hand at the team facility, something the 49ers and general manager Trent Baalke, who has become close to Smith, hoped would be the case. Smith can train at the facility and attend meetings but not practice with teammates or appeal the ruling.
A statement from the NFLPA said: On Aldons behalf, the NFLPA worked with the NFL to craft disciplinary terms that reflect Aldons desire to take responsibility for past mistakes and show his commitment to being a dedicated professional by going to work every day to study with his coaches and teammates and train at the facility. The terms of the discipline reflect his desire to show his teammates, employer and fans that he has made real changes to his life since the difficult incidents that are the basis for the NFLs discipline.
That discipline was handed down by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who met with Smith on Aug. 7 at the leagues headquarters in New York. In a brief news release, the league said Smith was punished for violating its substance abuse and personal conduct policies.
Jeff Chiu/ AP
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) rolls out as San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes (91) applies pressure during the first quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014.
Here’s my projection for the 49ers’ “initial” 53-man roster, which must be finalized by 1 p.m. Saturday. Explanations (a lot of them) below.
Running backs (4)
- Colin Kaepernick
- Blaine Gabbert
Wide receivers (5)
- Frank Gore
- Bruce Miller
- Carlos Hyde
- LaMichael James
Tight ends (3)
- Anquan Boldin
- Michael Crabtree
- Stevie Johnson
- Quinton Patton
- Bruce Ellington
Offensive line (9)
- Vernon Davis
- Vance McDonald
- Derek Carrier
Defensive line (8)
- Joe Staley
- Anthony Davis
- Mike Iupati
- Daniel Kilgore
- Joe Looney
- Jonathan Martin
- Adam Snyder
- Marcus Martin
- Carter Bykowski
Inside linebackers (4)
- Justin Smith
- Ray McDonald
- Ian Williams
- Tank Carradine
- Quinton Dial
- Tony Jerod-Eddie
- Demarcus Dobbs
- Glenn Dorsey
Outside linebackers (4)
- Patrick Willis
- Michael Wilhoite
- Chris Borland
- Nick Moody
- Ahmad Brooks
- Dan Skuta
- Corey Lemonier
- Aaron Lynch
- Tramaine Brock
- Chris Culliver
- Perrish Cox
- Chris Cook
- Dontae Johnson
- Darryl Morris
- Antoine Bethea
- Eric Reid
- Jimmie Ward
- Craig Dahl
- James McCray
- Phil Dawson
- Andy Lee
- Kevin McDermott
- QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson
- RB Glenn Winston
- NT Mike Purcell
- OL Dillon Farrell
- OL Michael Philipp
- TE Asante Cleveland
- LB Shayne Skov
- OLB Chase Thomas
- WR Lance Lewis
Dorsey can’t go on injured reserve/return until Tuesday. When that happens, the 49ers will gain a roster spot. ... Veterans like Brandon Lloyd and Kassim Osgood will have their full salaries guaranteed if they are on the Week 1 roster. I expect Lloyd to make the team, perhaps not in Week 1. Osgood also has a good shot, just not in Week 1. ... I struggled most with C.J. Spillman, McCray, Acker and Dobbs. In the end, I went with McCray’s youth and potential at safety over Spillman’s special teams prowess. ... If I had to guess which players the 49ers might trade, Spillman and Dobbs would be at the top of my list.
Terrell Lloyd/ 49ers.com
Reserve cornerbacks Kenneth Acker, Chris Cook and Darryl Morris (pictured here in last year’s jersey number) are fighting for a spot on the 49ers’ roster.
If a general manager's goal is to make cut-down day difficult, Trent Baalke has succeeded. He will begin the process of trimming the 49ers’ roster to 53 players this afternoon, and he is bound to have trouble at a couple of spots, including cornerback.
Three cornerbacks began Thursday's game on the proverbial roster bubble – Kenneth Acker, Chris Cook and Darryl Morris – and all three played well. Cook had an interception, his second of the preseason, knocked away two passes and made two tackles in just 20 snaps.
Morris knocked away a pass and had two special teams tackles. Acker was solid for the third straight game and tied for third on the team with four tackles. It's certainly possible that all three make the squad. But if it came down to two, my argument would be: Keep Cook, who has done everything asked of him this offseason, and Morris, whose versatility as a corner, nickel corner and special teamer gives him real roster value, and cross your fingers that Acker lands on the practice squad.
Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider was watching from the Levi’s Stadium press box when the 49ers played the Denver Broncos on Aug. 17. Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie was there, binoculars in hand, for Sunday’s game against the San Diego Chargers.
For 20 or so 49ers playing in today’s preseason finale in Houston, those erstwhile enemies could turn into saviors in the coming days.
That’s because NFL teams must reduce rosters to 53 players by 1 p.m. Saturday. The 49ers would like to relocate many of those they cut to their practice squad, which has grown from eight to 10 players this season, but players must pass through waivers.
And if last year is any example, other teams will be circling like vultures to see which players the talent-laden 49ers leave exposed.
Cornerback Chris Cook is among the 49ers who are on the roster bubble as final cuts loom.
SANTA CLARA -- NFL preseason games are weak overall, but the fourth game? It's the the runt of the litter, the one that Homer Zuckerman, axe in hand, ought to take behind the barn. A case in point: the Tolzien-Johnson Affair of 2012.
I've written about this before. You remember the “battle” between Scott Tolzien and Josh Johnson, right?
In the summer of 2012, they were vying for the role of No. 3 quarterback. It was the only roster competition that remained and, judging from the rhetoric from the coaching staff, it was tight. Jim Harbaugh called it a "dead heat."
Luckily, there was the fourth preseason game to decide it. And the game certainly was decisive. Johnson looked like the second coming of Fran Tarkenton,finishing 9-14 for 125 yards and a 132.4 passer rating.
Ian Williams may be the only 49esr starting defensive lineman who plays in Thursday’s preseason finale in Houston.
QB COLIN KAEPERNICK, NO. 7
The 49ers’ No. 1 quarterback started last year’s preseason finale, too, picking up two first downs before connecting with Quinton Patton for a 43-yard touchdown. He could use a similar drive against the Texans, even if it’s against Houston’s reserves. So far this preseason, Kaepernick has led the 49ers to two field goals. They’ll need a lot more than that when they return to Texas in 10 days to take on the Cowboys.
WR STEVIE JOHNSON, NO. 13
The wide receiver said this week he’s still building chemistry with Kaepernick. OK, so why didn’t Johnson get any snaps alongside Kaepernick in Sunday’s game against San Diego? Johnson’s unorthodox style can be a handful for defensive backs. But the starting quarterback needs time to adjust to it as well.
The 49ers traded a fourth-round pick to Buffalo for Stevie Johnson. The receiver admits his chemistry with Colin Kaepernick is a work in progress.
Stevie Johnson had a big game against Richard Sherman and the Seahawks in 2012. Johnson also has had some big outing vs. longtime Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis.
SANTA CLARA -- When Anquan Boldin arrived last offseason, his connection with Colin Kaepernick was immediate. As early as May OTAs, the two looked like they had been playing together since childhood, and in Week 1 they hooked up 13 times for 208 yards.
Kaepernick's connection with another veteran acquired via trade, Stevie Johnson, hasn't been nearly as swift. But that's neither surprising nor alarming to either man. While Boldin has a straightforward style, Johnson's takes some getting used to.
Kaepernick, in fact, called Johnson's movements “unorthodox,” and that's not the first time Johnson has heard his route running described that way.
“I've pretty much taken it upon myself to be unorthodox to make up for some things that other receivers have – you know, speed and quickness,” he said this week. “I set up my routes a little different. It's a gift and a curse. Because it can take some time to build chemistry with quarterbacks. But at the same time, the gift is that you know you can get open.”
San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis (85) runs against San Diego Chargers strong safety Marcus Gilchrist (38) during the second quarter of an NFL preseason football game in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Aug. 24, 2014. (AP Photo/ Mathew Sumner)
The NFL preseason is not about wins and losses.
The outcome of these games are about as important as the miles of dirty, grass-stained equipment tape found on a locker room floor at the end of a contest.
But what does matter in the preseason – or in any practice – is the effort and performance of the players and the execution of offensive and defensive units.
So how concerned should 49ers fans be about quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the first-team offense?
Rookie outside linebacker Aaron Lynch is in far better shape now than he was at the start of training camp, which is why his playing time has increased throughout the preseason.
How does someone pull both hamstrings at the same time?
While running down the field to cover a kickoff, 49ers outside linebacker Aaron Lynch said Tuesday. And by being badly out of shape when doing so.
Lynch, a fifth-round pick out of South Florida in May, didn’t dance around the issue of his conditioning when he arrived in Santa Clara in the spring. Neither did defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who held Lynch, 21, out of the team’s Aug. 7 preseason opener because he didn’t think the rookie was physically ready.
“He’s a guy that came in here after the draft out of shape, was rounding into shape toward the end of the offseason workouts, then pulled – strangely – both hamstrings at once,” Fangio said Tuesday. “So he spent June and July rehabbing, not training.”
Beck Diefenbach/ AP
Michael Wilhoite has started every game of the preseason at inside linebacker but still hasn’t been declared the starter for the regular season
SANTA CLARA -- Vic Fangio isn't quite ready to name Michael Wilhoite the winner of the team's competition to replace linebacker NaVorro Bowman in the starting lineup.
“He hasn’t proven that yet totally, but we’ll wait until after Thursday (vs. the Texans)” the 49ers' defensive coordinator said. “Give these younger guys a good, healthy dose of snaps and see if they can make some progress. We’re confident in Mike and we think he’ll do fine in there like he did last year in those couple games he played.”
Wilhoite may not officially have the job. But he's been the starter next to Patrick Willis throughout the offseason as well as during Sunday's game against the Chargers. The duo teamed up to stop San Diego running back Ryan Mathews on a 4th-and-1 carry in the first quarter.
Willis has said he feels comfortable next to Wilhoite, who is playing the “Jack” position as opposed to the “Mike” spot that Willis has manned. But the veteran linebacker also has been impressed with third-round pick Chris Borland, who has been pushing for the starting role.