Players will enter the 49ers facility this weekend, meaning practices theoretically will start soon. So this is my last chance to make an uneducated guess about the 53-man roster before I see the players in person and get a much better feel who will make the team and who won’t.
I cannot pass up such a rich opportunity.
Here is my uninformed final-roster prediction:
1. Jimmy Garoppolo
2. Nick Mullens
3. C.J. Beathard
I hardly can bear to write Beathard’s name -- the 49ers never should have drafted him to begin with, and he shouldn’t have made the team last year. But he’s here now, and the 49ers need him because there’s a global pandemic. And if both Garoppolo and Mullens get the coronavirus at the same time, the 49ers will need a third quarterback. And Beathard actually knows the system. So he stays for one more year.
1. Raheem Mostert
2. Jerick McKinnon
3. Jeff Wilson Jr.
4. Kyle Juszczyk
The 49ers signed Tevin Coleman last year because they didn’t know Raheem Mostert is a stud, plus Jerick McKinnon was coming off a torn ACL. Now, they know how good Mostert is. So if McKinnon can stay healthy, the 49ers will have no use for Coleman. They can cut him and replace him with Jeff Wilson Jr., who’s younger and cheaper and just as good.
1. Deebo Samuel
2. Brandon Aiyuk
3. Kendrick Bourne
4. Trent Taylor
5. Jalen Hurd
6. Travis Benjamin
7. Jauan Jennings
Samuel finished last season as the No. 1 wide receiver.
This offseason, the 49ers drafted Brandon Aiyuk to replace Emmanuel Sanders, last season’s No. 2 wide receiver.
Kendrick Bourne finished 2020 as the No. 3 receiver.
Trent Taylor will make the team if healthy and compete to be the No. 3 receiver because Jimmy Garoppolo loves him.
Jalen Hurd missed his rookie season with a back injury, but is a former third-round pick who will make the team if healthy.
Travis Benjamin replaces Marquise Goodwin as the designated deep threat on the team.
And Jauan Jennings makes the final roster as a slot receiver who can gain yards after the catch.
Meaning Dante Pettis and Richie James Jr. probably will not make the team. They don’t fit the mold of the wide receivers the 49ers have acquired since Wes Welker became the wide receivers coach. He seems to favor tough, fearless players who make catches over the middle and gain yards after contact.
Pettis and James are downfield threats who do not run through contact. They avoid contact. So they’re out.
1. George Kittle
2. Ross Dwelley
3. Charlie Woerner
Woerner replaces Levine Toilolo as the designated blocking tight end. Dwelley remains the No. 2 tight end who can get open and play fullback if necessary. And Kittle remains the best tight end and biggest bargain in the NFL, unless the 49ers extend his contract and pay him what he’s worth.
1. Trent Williams
2. Laken Tomlinson
3. Weston Richburg
4. Tom Compton
5. Mike McGlinchey
6. Daniel Brunskill
7. Ben Garland
8. Justin Skule
9. Colton McKivitz
Tom Compton will win the starting right-guard job because he’s a veteran who has started 34 career games. I expect Brunskill will take his job eventually, but not right away.
At swing tackle, Justin Skule will beat out Shon Coleman, who missed last season with a broken leg. The 49ers won all eight games Skule started at left tackle last season. He has a bright future.
1. Nick Bosa
2. Javon Kinlaw
3. D.J. Jones
4. Arik Armstead
5. Dee Ford
6. Ronald Blair
7. Solomon Thomas
8. Kerry Hyder
9. Kentavius Street
10. Kevin Givens
Jullian Taylor tore his ACL in December and most likely will start the season on an injured list, although he should return.
Former Cowboys and Lions defensive tackle Kerry Hyder almost certainly will make the 49ers final roster -- they already gave him a $550,000 signing bonus. He recorded eight sacks in 2016 when he played under current 49ers defensive line coach Kris Kocurek.
Kentavius Street is a former fourth-round pick -- the 49ers drafted him in 2018. I doubt they’ll give up on him, even though he has appeared in just three games. He entered the league with a torn ACL and is a long-term project.
1. Fred Warner
2. Kwon Alexander
3. Dre Greenlaw
4. Azeez Al-Shaair
5. Joe Walker
Same group as last season minus Mark Nzeocha, the relatively expensive special-teams specialist. Walker is another special-teams guy, but he’s two years younger and roughly half the price as Nzeocha.
1. Richard Sherman
2. Emmanuel Moseley
3. K’Waun Williams
4. Ahkello Witherspoon
5. Jamar Taylor
6. Jason Verrett
Same group as last season minus backup nickelback D.J. Reed, who tore his pectoral muscle this offseason and probably will start the season on an injured list. When he’s healthy, the 49ers probably will make room for him on the roster by cutting Jamar Taylor.
1. Jimmie Ward
2. Jaquiski Tartt
3. Tarvarius Moore
Same exact group as last season. But on the practice squad, the 49ers can stash strong safety Marcell Harris and rookie free safety Jared Mayden. So this position group is deeper than it seems.
1. Robbie Gould
2. Mitch Wishnowsky
3. Kyle Nelson
The NFL suspended Nelson 10 games last season for using performance-enhancing drugs. Having Nelson for a full season will help the 49ers.
Gould is 37, and may have begun to lose leg power, but he’s still accurate inside 45 yards.
And Wishnowsky is 28. He’s one of the oldest second-year players I can remember. But he’s young at heart.
So that’s my list. We’ll revisit this at the end of training camp to see just how smart my uninformed prediction was.