The 49ers will announce their 53-man roster Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. Here’s who I think will make the roster:
QUARTERBACKS (3): Jimmy Garoppolo, Nick Mullens, C.J. Beathard.
Beathard shouldn’t make this team -- he should be on the practice squad. But he probably will make it because he’s Kyle Shanahan’s hand-picked pet project and George Kittle’s best friend. What a shame it would be if keeping Beathard forces the 49ers to release someone who’s better than him.
RUNNING BACKS (4): Raheem Mostert, Tevin Coleman, Jerick McKinnon, Kyle Juszczyk.
I’m sure the 49ers would love to keep Jeff Wilson Jr., too -- they called a play for him in the Super Bowl and he gained 20 yards. But it’s hard to keep five running backs AND three quarterbacks. So the 49ers probably will have to keep only four running backs. And they’ve paid McKinnon too much money the past two years to cut him now. So Wilson likely will be the odd man out. I’m sure the 49ers hope he’d clear waivers so they can put him on the practice squad, but I expect some team would pick him up.
WIDE RECEIVERS (7): Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Richie James Jr., Jauan Jennings.
Kyle Shanahan has drafted six wide receivers since he became the 49ers head coach, and all six of them likely will make the team. Shanahan is a former wide receiver who scouts this position -- I doubt he’ll give up on his hand-picked players so quickly. Veteran Kevin White most likely will join the practice squad.
TIGHT ENDS (4): George Kittle, Jordan Reed, Ross Dwelley, Charlie Woerner.
Kittle all but confirmed Thursday in a press conference that the 49ers will keep four tight ends. Reed will be the designated pass-catcher, Woerner the designated blocker and Dwelley the do-everything backup. Excellent quartet.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (8): Trent Williams, Laken Tomlinson, Ben Garland, Daniel Brunskill, Mike McGlinchey, Justin Skule, Colton McKivitz, Tom Compton.
Brunskill will be the starting right guard even though he spent all of training camp playing center. Meaning Compton lost a camp competition to himself. If Brunskill struggles at guard, look for rookie Colton McKivitz to get the first chance to replace him, not Compton. Garland will start the season as the center until Weston Richburg is activated off the PUP list.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (10): Nick Bosa, Javon Kinlaw, D.J. Jones, Arik Armstead, Dee Ford, Solomon Thomas, Kerry Hyder, Kentavius Street, Kevin Givens, Dion Jordan.
Both Ronald Blair and Jullian Taylor likely will start the season on the PUP list. When they return, they probably will take roster spots from Dion Jordan and Kerry Hyder.
LINEBACKERS (5): Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, Dre Greenlaw, Azeez Al-Shaair, Joe Walker.
The 49ers keep Walker instead of Mark Nzeocha because, while they’re both good special teams players, Walker has started 14 games in his career at linebacker while Nzeocha has started only three. Meaning Walker is a better backup linebacker than Nzeocha. And he’s cheaper and younger than Nzeocha, too.
SAFETIES (3): Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, Tarvarius Moore.
The 49ers kept just three safeties last year, too. This year, they’ll cut both Marcell Harris and Johnathan Cyprien, and both will join the practice squad.
CORNERBACKS (6): Richard Sherman, Emmanuel Moseley, K’Waun Williams, Ahkello Witherspoon, Tim Harris Jr., Jared Mayden.
Jason Verrett had a solid training camp but injured his hamstring this week, and has played only six games since 2015. I believe the 49ers will cut him, put him on their practice squad and keep second-year cornerback Tim Harris Jr. instead. Harris was a sixth-round pick in 2019 who spent his rookie season on the Injured Reserve List. The backup nickelback and only undrafted rookie who will make the roster this year is Jared Mayden. He can play safety as well.
SPECIALISTS (3): Robbie Gould, Mitch Wishnowsky, Kyle Nelson.
Same trio as last year. And a good trio.
We’ll find out soon how correct these projections are.