49ers Postgame Buzz: Weighing the good, the bad, the drops vs. Colts
With three preseason games in the books following the loss Saturday to the Colts, it’s time to project the 49ers’ 53-man roster ahead of Week 1. The deadline to make final cuts is Sept. 1 at 1 p.m.
--Kyle Shanahan said after Saturday’s loss to the Colts that Garoppolo and Beathard would be his two quarterbacks, ending any speculation that Nick Mullens had a chance to supplant Beathard as the backup. Mullens is likely headed to the practice squad for the second straight season.
Running back (5)
Kyle Juszczyk (fullback)
--Morris’ impressive debut against the Colts should be enough to win him a job as an insurance policy to McKinnon (calf) and Breida (separated shoulder), who are working back from injuries but expected to be healthy in time for the season opener. Mostert is the team’s best special teams player. Jeremy McNichols and Jeff Wilson Jr. are likely battling for a spot on the practice squad, with McNichols having the leg up.
Wide receiver (6)
--This has been one of the most competitive battles throughout the summer, but James, who’s tied for the team lead with eight receptions for 112 yards this preseason, seems too productive to make it through waivers to the practice squad. Aaron Burbridge has stuck around for his special teams value, but the 49ers have other options at gunner (Tarvarius Moore or D.J. Reed) allowing them to keep James. Veteran Aldrick Robinson became redundant when the team used a second-round pick on Pettis, though Robinson will likely to land on another team needing depth at the position.
Tight end (3)
--One of the under-the-radar competitions over the last few weeks has been for the third tight end spot, where it appears Wick has supplanted second-year player Cole Hikutini, who dropped a possible touchdown pass on a perfect throw from Jimmy Garoppolo in the second quarter of Saturday’s loss. Wick has played before Hikutini with the starters in the last two preseason games. Hikutini will likely get another season on the practice squad.
Offensive line (8)
--The 49ers invested $4 million in guarantees on Cooper’s one-year contract this offseason, indicating they believe he’ll be a contributor down the road. For now, he’s still working his way back from offseason surgery to repair a torn MCL. Garnett, meanwhile, has shown signs of being a possible starter during the last two preseason games, though Person has remained with the first unit at right guard. The hamstring injury to Erik Magnuson should allow the 49ers to keep both Cooper and Garnett, who were first-round picks in 2013 and 2016, respectively.
*Reuben Foster will be suspended for the first two games of the regular season and won’t count against the 53-man roster.
--Warner, the rookie third-round draft pick, started Saturday and is the favorite to replace Foster in the starting lineup against the Vikings and Lions to open the season. Lee has been productive on defense and is a more valuable special teams player than Korey Toomer, though he might not stick around when Foster returns. Attaochu had his best game of the preseason on Saturday, logging a sack and showing athleticism off the edge.
Defensive line (8)
--With Jones and Day impressing along the interior throughout August, the 49ers might consider moving on from Mitchell, though he’s one of the team’s most respected veterans. Taylor looks like another seventh-round steal for John Lynch and top personnel man Adam Peters, but his lengthy injury history in college remains a concern. Moving on from Eli Harold could mean more time rushing from the edge for Buckner, allowing Day to get on the field at defensive tackle in passing downs.
--Tyvis Powell was tried at free safety for portions of the second half on Saturday, indicating he’s on the wrong side of the roster bubble. Mabin has been steady throughout training camp and the exhibition slate. Ward suffered a quad injury against the Colts and it remains to be seen how long he will be out. Suffice to say, the 49ers probably regret picking up his fifth-year option last spring that fully guarantees more than $8.5 million, no matter how many games Ward plays. Tarvarus McFadden is a practice squad candidate should he make it through waivers.
--The 49ers like Marcell Harris, the sixth-round pick from Florida, but he’s been dealing with a hamstring injury that kept him out of all three preseason games. Harris missed all of 2017 with a torn Achilles and might be an injured reserve candidate who tries to begin his career in 2019. Reed is looking like a strong fifth-round draft pick and is the top backup at free safety and slot cornerback.
Robbie Gould (K)
Bradley Pinion (P)
Kyle Nelson (LS)
--The 49ers brought in Jeff Locke to push Pinion for his job while he enters a contract year, but Pinion appears to have won that battle.