49ers Roster

Maiocco's 53-man 49ers roster projection entering training camp

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The 49ers open training camp this week with their nucleus intact from a year ago and nearly every starting position locked up.

As always, the lower half of the roster will be the battleground for competitions featuring veterans attempting to hold onto jobs and unheralded youngsters set on making favorable impressions.

With the opening of training camp, we project how the roster can be expected to look Aug. 29, once the moves are made to reach the regular-season limit of 53 players.

There are 36 players listed as “locks” to make the team. The projected roster currently has 17 others in the “looking good” category.

Let’s figure 10 to 14 of those players will make the team, leaving three to seven spots for those rising from the “in the mix” group.

Here is our pre-camp 49ers roster breakdown:

Quarterback (4)

Locks: Brock Purdy, Sam Darnold

Looking good: Trey Lance

In the mix: Brandon Allen

The 49ers went out this offseason and signed Darnold to a one-year contract that includes $3.5 million of fully guaranteed money. They pursued him for a reason, and that would seem to place him in strong position as the team reports to camp.

Lance is healthy and had a strong offseason. The only reason we place him only as “looking good” is because if he does not break camp as the starter or backup, it might prompt another team to make a push to acquire him in a trade.

Running back (8)

Locks: Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, Elijah Mitchell, Jordan Mason

Looking good: Ty Davis-Price

In the mix: Ronald Awatt, Jack Colletto, Khalen Laborn

The 49ers have more success finding undrafted running backs than drafting them. So will Awatt or Laborn open some eyes in camp and make a push for a roster spot? That appears to be a tall task this summer with McCaffrey, Mitchell, Mason and Davis-Price returning from a year ago.

Colletto is a jack-of-all-trades fullback who is likely to stick around on the practice squad while filling a variety of roles on both sides of the ball.

Wide receiver (11)

Locks: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings

Looking good: Danny Gray, Ray-Ray McCloud

In the mix: Ronnie Bell, Willie Snead, Chris Conley, Tay Martin, Dazz Newsome, Isaiah Winstead

This is a position group where there are a lot of different scenarios for how things will shake out after the top three players.

Gray is the fastest player in the room, which gives him an edge. McCloud is back as the 49ers’ primary return man. But Bell, a seventh-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, has an opportunity to play himself into that mix.

Veterans Snead and Conley both saw NFL action last season and will add to the competition.

Tight end (6)

Locks: George Kittle, Cameron Latu

Looking good: Charlie Woerner

In the mix: Ross Dwelley, Brayden Willis, Troy Fumagalli

The 49ers selected Latu in the third round of the draft and Willis in the seventh round. That provided an indication the 49ers are looking to add some new players to the mix at tight end.

The club has gone with four tight ends on their roster, so the final spot is likely to come down to Dwelley, who has played 72 games in five seasons, or Willis.

Offensive line (16)

Locks: Trent Williams, Aaron Banks, Jake Brendel, Spencer Burford, Colton McKivitz

Looking good: Jon Feliciano, Jaylon Moore, Matt Pryor, Nick Zakelj

In the mix: Jason Poe, Joey Fisher, Keith Ismael, Corey Luciano, Ilm Manning, Leroy Watson, Alfredo Gutierrez

The starting unit appears set. The backup jobs, however, are open for competition.

The 49ers added veterans Feliciano and Pryor to provide depth on the interior at tackle spots, respectively. Recent draft picks Moore and Zakelj are looking to take the next steps to nail down roles on the team.

The door is open for one of the undrafted players to step in and win a spot.

Defensive line (16)

Locks: Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, Javon Hargrave, Javon Kinlaw, Kevin Givens, Drake Jackson

Looking good: Robert Beal, Clelin Ferrell, Kerry Hyder, T.Y. McGill

In the mix: Kalia Davis, Austin Bryant, Darryl Johnson, Alex Barrett, Marlon Davidson, Spencer Waege

The 49ers’ big offseason acquisition was Hargrave, who comes over from the Philadelphia Eagles on a big-money free-agent contract.

If the 49ers opt to keep 11 defensive linemen, Davis would stand the best chance after sitting out his rookie season. The 49ers compared him to D.J. Jones during the scouting process. He rehabbed all of last season after a knee injury cut short his final year at Central Florida in October 2021.

Linebacker (8)

Locks: Fred Warner, Dre Greelaw, Oren Burks, Dee Winters

Looking good: Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles

In the mix: Jalen Graham. Marcelino McCrary-Ball, Curtis Robinson

In the sixth round of the draft, the 49ers contemplated Winters and Graham before deciding to go with Winters. In the seventh round, with their final pick, they grabbed Graham.

There are not a lot of roster spots to be had on this unit, so special teams will play a huge factor in which players get a uniform.

Cornerback (10)

Locks: Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaiah Oliver

Looking good: Darrell Luter, Samuel Womack

In the mix: Ambry Thomas, A.J. Parker, Qwuantrezz Knight, Tre Swilling, D’Shawn Jamison

Oliver was one of the standouts during the 49ers’ offseason program. He is slotted to replace Jimmie Ward as the 49ers’ nickel back.

The 49ers have some young players and stiff competition for the backup jobs with Luter, a fifth-round draft pick, Womack and Thomas.

The door is open for one of the other players to win a job backing up Ward and Lenoir.

Safety (7)

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

Looking good: Myles Hartsfield

In the mix: Taylor Hawkins, Avery Young

It will be difficult for anyone to crack the top four spots with Hufanga, Gipson, special-teams ace Odum and Brown, a third-round draft pick.

Hartsfield had a major advantage after spending a season in Carolina with Steve Wilks, the 49ers’ new defensive coordinator.

Special teams (4)

Locks: K Jake Moody, P Mitch Wishnowsky, LS Taybor Pepper

Looking good: None

In the mix: Zane Gonzalez

Robbie Gould remains a free agent, but he is not coming back to the club after six consistent seasons with the club.

Moody is the player the 49ers chose to replace Gould. The 49ers selected him with the No. 99 overall draft pick a month after acquiring Gonzalez in a trade from the Panthers.

The 49ers have held onto Gonzalez to see if a trade opportunity presents itself.

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