49ers Analysis

49ers 2023 53-man roster breakdown: Changes coming after initial cuts

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The final 53 is not the final 53.

The 49ers’ active roster will change on Wednesday, and it will continue to be tweaked as players are injured or upgrades are available to be added.

But the major round of moves were completed Tuesday, and here’s an analysis of the 49ers’ initial 53-man roster:

Quarterback (3)

Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold, Brandon Allen

It became increasingly clear as training camp progressed how the first two spots on the depth chart would stack up with Purdy as the starter and Darnold as No. 2.

And while it was always an obvious option to keep Allen over Trey Lance, it was still jarring to actually see that unfold last week with the trade that sent the 2021 No. 3 pick to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2024 fourth-round draft pick.

Running back (5)

Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason, Ty Davis-Price

The 49ers have a good assortment of players for the offensive backfield, led by halfback McCaffrey and fullback Juszczyk.

Mitchell is the clear No. 2 halfback. But after two injury-plagued seasons, Mitchell rarely got on the practice field this summer due to an adductor injury.

While Mason is the frontrunner for the No. 3 role due to his special-teams experience, Davis-Price had a good summer as he makes a push to get a uniform in his locker on game days.

Wide receiver (6)

Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Ronnie Bell, Ray-Ray McCloud, Danny Gray

Samuel, Aiyuk and Jennings are the clear top three. Bell earned his way onto the team with his play on offense, along with his sure-handed ability to return punts.

McCloud sustained a fractured wrist before the 49ers’ first preseason game and his availability for early in the season is in question. And Gray had a shoulder injury that is expected to keep him out of action for a period of time.

McCloud and Gray could be candidates for injured reserve, while veteran Willie Snead could be an option for the practice squad and game-day elevations.

Tight end (4)

George Kittle, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley, Brayden Willis

The 49ers are largely back where they started at tight end behind Kittle with Woerner and Dwelley.

The 49ers invested two draft picks on tight ends, and it’s the seventh-rounder, Willis, who sticks with the team on the initial roster.

Cameron Latu was a third-round pick who struggled mightily this summer. He sustained a meniscus injury in the final preseason game, and the 49ers opted to place him on season-ending injured reserve.

Offensive line (9)

Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz, Jaylon Moore, Matt Pryor, Jon Feliciano, Nick Zakelj

The starting unit has been set since the end of last season. McKivitz takes over for Mike McGlinchey, who signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Denver Broncos. The 49ers expect McKivitz to be better in pass protection but not as good as a run-blocker.

With eight offensive linemen active on game days, it could be that Moore will backup at left tackle, Pryor at right tackle and Feliciano at the three interior spots. The 49ers opted for second-year player Zakelj over impressive undrafted rookie Ilm Manning.

Defensive line (8)

Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Kevin Givens, Drake Jackson, Clelin Ferrell, Javon Kinlaw, Robert Beal, Kalia Davis

There’s one person whose absence from this list is glaring: Reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year Nick Bosa.

The 49ers’ outside pass rush is the weakness of the team. Without Bosa around as he continues his contract holdout, San Francisco does not have a lot of juice flying off the edge to get after quarterbacks.

Veterans Kerry Hyder and Austin Bryant will be re-signed on Wednesday as part of a procedural move, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area. The 49ers’ backups will be asked to join a rotation in which players are asked to constantly rotate onto the field to complement Armstead and Hargrave.

Linebacker (6)

Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, Dee Winters, Jalen Graham

The 49ers like their group of linebackers behind Warner and Greenlaw. Burks and Flannigan-Fowles are proven, and the 49ers simply could not bring themselves to choose between rookie draft picks Winters and Graham.

So they did the wise thing: They kept them both. All of the backups can be expected to provide help on special teams.

Cornerback (5)

Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Samuel Womack, Ambry Thomas, Isaiah Oliver

There was good competition at this position group. Ultimately, there were no surprises from the first days of camp, when it looked as if these five would make the cut.

Oliver holds onto his spot and still figures to be the front-runner for the nickel back job. Womack and Thomas looked solid as backups behind Ward and Lenoir.

Undrafted rookie D’Shawn Jamison made a nice bid for a spot, and he should be back on the practice squad.

Safety (4)

Talanoa Hufanga, Tashaun Gipson, Ji’Ayir Brown, George Odum

Huganga and Gipson are the starters with Brown being groomed for an eventual starting role. Odum has missed some time with a shoulder injury, but he figures into the mix as a key special teams player.

Veteran Myles Hartsfield, who played for defensive coordinator Steve Wilks at Carolina, did not make the initial roster but could stick around on the practice squad as insurance.

Special teams (3)

Jake Moody, Mitch Wishnowsky, Taybor Pepper

This group was never in question, other than when Moody sustained a quadriceps injury last week.

The 49ers will continue to monitor Moody’s condition before deciding whether they need to add a kicker to be available for the Week 1 game at the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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