Q: who are the projected 7 players who will not dress?
A: It’s a good question, and the short answer is, ‘I don’t know.’ Injuries will help determine which players don’t suit up during the rest of the season. But the 49ers head into Week 1 largely healthy.
First, let’s assume that coaches deem Alex Boone ready to play against the Cowboys (Not to get all man-crushy, but he looked Tuesday like he was in excellent shape, for what that’s worth). If that’s the case, they will have to remove one player from the 53-man roster. I think that will be rookie Dillon Farrell, who could, if he’s not claimed by another team, land on the practice squad. It could be someone else – Brandon Lloyd or Josh Johnson, for example – but for the sake of argument, let’s go with Farrell.
Also, there’s a real possibility that Ray McDonald does not play in this game. It would not be beyond the realm of possibility if Jed York knocked on Jim Harbaugh’s door and said, “Hey, I know I never meddle in roster issues, but I run this team and I think McDonald should sit this one out while we continue to gather the facts.” I don’t know what the percentage of that possibility is, however, and Aldon Smith played in a game immediately following his arrest last year. So let’s say that McDonald is on the field.
In that case, my guess would be:
1. QB Josh Johnson, the third quarterback.
2. C Marcus Martin. He’s injured and is a safe scratch for the months of September and probably October.
3. WR Brandon Lloyd. He’s not a starter and doesn’t play special teams.
4. CB Dontae Johnson or CB Chris Cook. The 49ers like Johnson, but he’s the least experienced of the team’s cornerbacks. Johnson, however, has been playing special teams, and the 49ers might get more value. (Another option: because Jimmie Ward plays nickel cornerback, perhaps both Johnson and Cook sit).
5. Quinton Dial or Tank Carradine. It’s hard to believe that one of these two, who played so many snaps and played so well in the preseason, wouldn’t get to suit up for a game. But the 49ers have an abundance of backup linemen, and Demarcus Dobbs and Tony Jerod-Eddie play special teams.
6. Aaron Lynch. The 49ers may conclude that against a pass-happy team like Dallas they need all the pass rushers they can get. Lynch is still rounding into shape and into form.
7A. Bruce Ellington or Quinton Patton. Do the 49ers need five wide receivers?
7B. Nick Moody or Chris Borland. If the answer to 7A is “Yes,” then the question becomes, do the 49ers need four inside linebackers? Moody and Borland both can play on special teams.