5 takeaways: San Francisco 49ers preseason vs. Denver Broncos
Here’s our latest 53-man roster projection following the 49ers’ 24-15 victory over the Denver Broncos in the second preseason game.
Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard
Garoppolo’s 1-of-6, one-interception performance in his exhibition debut was rough enough to tip the scales towards keeping three quarterbacks active even though Kyle Shanahan would typically prefer to have just two. One of Mullens’ three passing attempts was a perfectly thrown ball to Kendrick Bourne on a fade route for a touchdown. Beathard completed just 5 of 11, but Bourne dropped a deep pass that was right on the money and San Francisco scored on three straight possessions with Beathard under center.
Practice squad: Wilton Speight
Running back (4)
Tevin Coleman, Kyle Juszczyk, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert
It seems Jerick McKinnon would be best served opening the season on injured reserve, giving him eight weeks to get his surgically repaired knee feeling better for the stretch run. Ideally the 49ers would keep five running backs for depth, but the need for depth at quarterback and the addition of Tevin Coleman in the offseason make McKinnon getting the return designation palatable.
Injured reserve: Jerick McKinnon
Practice squad: Jeff Wilson Jr.
Cut: Austin Walter, Brandon Wilds
Dante Pettis, Deebo Samuel, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Kendrick Bourne, Jalen Hurd, Richie James Jr.
Monday wasn’t a great night for the passing game. Bourne and Mostert were the only players with multiple receptions while the 49ers completed just eight attempts overall. We’re keeping seven receivers here because James could be a valuable player now that Taylor is dealing with an injury.
Practice squad: Shawn Poindexter
Cut: Jordan Matthews, Malik Henry
Tight end (3)
George Kittle, Ross Dwelley, Kaden Smith
Kittle was kept from playing Monday while he deals with a minor calf injury. He told The Bee in Denver he could have played if it were a regular season game. Toilolo missing time with a shoulder injury doesn’t help his chances, although he’s missed just one game in six seasons. He might make the team over Dwelley or Smith if healthy.
Practice squad: Tyree Mayfield
Active physically unable to perform list: Garrett Celek
Cut: Levine Toilolo, Daniel Helm
Offensive line (9)
Joe Staley, Mike McGlinichey, Laken Tomlinson, Weston Richburg, Mike Person, Ben Garland, Sam Young, Justin Skule, Joshua Garnett
The offensive line’s performance against the Broncos might have been just as concerning as Garoppolo’s performance. Staley did not have a particularly good game and Garoppolo was unable to make accurate throws in the face of pressure. Justin Skule should make the team because depth is needed, but the strip-sack he allowed to Bradley Chubb indicates he has a long way to go before the team could feel comfortable making him their “swing” tackle. That job is veteran Sam Young’s, for now, with Shon Coleman done for the year.
Injured reserve: Shon Coleman
Practice squad: Ross Reynolds
Cut: Najee Toran, Christian DeLauro, Willie Beavers, Daniel Brunskiill, Dillon Day, Wesley Johnson
Kwon Alexander, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, David Mayo, Elijah Lee
This group remains unchanged from our previous projection. Five players should be enough here given only two linebackers will be on the field the vast majority of the time. Warner and Alexander being given the first two preseason games off indicates the coaching staff is happy with what they’ve seen on the practice field.
Practice squad: Azeez Al-Shaair
Cut: Malcolm Smith, Mark Nzeocha, LaRoy Reynolds
Defensive line (9)
DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, Dee Ford, Arik Armstead, Solomon Thomas, Ronald Blair III, D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day, Kentavius Street
Jullian Taylor’s back injury cost him a chance to play Monday, but his exclusion here is a result of needing three quarterbacks and an extra offensive lineman. Taylor has played well enough in camp that he might not make it through waivers to the practice squad. Street had 1.5 sacks in Denver and looks like he’s ascending after his 2018 ACL tear.
Cut: Damontre Moore, Jordan Thompson, Jeremiah Valoaga, Jay Bromley
Practice squad: Jullian Taylor, Jamell Garcia-Williams
Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams, D.J. Reed Jr., Emmanuel Moseley
General manager John Lynch seemingly gave a strong endorsement of Verrett over the weekend saying, “The nice thing is in the time he was with us, and on the field, he impressed. I think that’s been consistent throughout his career when he’s been able to play. He’s a really good football player.” That signals Verrett’s ankle injury might not keep him from making the team and perhaps he’ll compete with Witherspoon down the line for a starting job.
Practice squad: Tim Harris
Cut: Dontae Johnson, Greg Mabin
Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Tarvarius Moore, Marcell Harris
The big question here: will Moore stave off Ward for the starting free safety spot? That will be an interesting development over the final two weeks of the preseason. Adrian Colbert left Monday’s game with a hamstring injury, which cost him more valuable reps after getting ejected in the opener for an illegal hit. Antone Exum Jr. missed practice Saturday with a knee injury.
Cut: Adrian Colbert, Antone Exum Jr.
Practice squad: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles
Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Colin Holba
Wishnowsky’s fierce tackle on his kickoff was one of the highlights of an otherwise dull preseason affair (Garoppolo’s performance notwithstanding).
Suspended: Kyle Nelson