Here are my projections for the Niner roster which will be determined by Saturday 1:00 pm, September 1, 2018.
Most are straight forward but a few will be hard decisions that Shanahan and Lynch have to make.
The 6 WR’s: The hard decision is whether to keep Burbridge or Bourne. Burbridge has the edge as he is an excellent Special Teams player. Bourne developed a great connection with Garoppolo last year and is still in his second year. He has the length (6-4) and the speed that Shanahan likes. Stay tuned…
The 4 OG’s: The Niners signed Jonathan Cooper during the off season and they were hopeful that he would be one of the starting guards. But he has been slow to recover from various injuries and both Person and Garnett have played well so Cooper is behind both. Thus, the choice boils down to Cooper or Magnuson who can play both OG and OT so I give the edge to him.
The 6 LB’s: Reuben Foster is suspended for the first 2 games. When he returns, either Watson or Taumoepenu will be released. I give the edge to Taumoepenu as he was drafted by Lynch and Shanahan last year. Plus, he looked really good in pre-season games.
The 6 CB’s: The tough choice here is between Mabin and Reed. Again, I give the edge to Reed as he was drafted by Lynch and Shanahan this year.
The 4 S’s: Marcell Harris is recovering from a torn Achilles but Lynch and Shanahan still thought highly of him so drafted him this year. He is currently on the Niner’s IR list but has made good progress. When he is fully recovered and ready to join the team, Exum will be cut.
I am so glad that the Niners signed Alfred Morris. He is an established pro running back who had his best years at Washington under Shanahan. He will be a great complimentary power runner to the speedier McKinnon, Breida and Mosterdt.
The addition of Richard Sherman was genius. He still has the speed and skills to compete at a high level. More importantly, he is a great teacher and will make the entire defensive backfield play “together”.
Richie James has been a stand-out WR since being drafted in the 7th round this year. His play is very similar to Trent Taylor’s style of play so one could question why they need two similar players. But James played so well during pre-season, he’ll make the team.
Jullian Taylor has also been a stand-out DL since being drafted in the 7th round this year. He, along with the stellar play of D. J. Jones and Sheldon Day are the reasons that make Arik Armstead expendable (although I still do have Armstead on the roster, I look for him to be traded).
Joshua Garnett has gone from being on the brink of being cut to fighting for a starting job at Right Guard. Mike Person will be the starter but Garnett’s solid showing gives Shanahan the luxury of turning to him if either Tomlinson or Person get hurt.
Watch for Jerick McKinnon to pile up a lot of yardage on screen and flare-out passes this year.
Look for Lynch and Shanahan to scour the league’s cut list for a Safety. Other than Tartt and Colbert, this position looks weak.
Also look for Lynch and Shanahan to look for trade partners for Arik Armstead and Jimmy Ward. They were both #1 draft picks from the Baalke era and are serviceable players but not as #1 pick players. A dream trade would be trading Armstead, Ward, and the Niner’s #1 draft pick next year for Khalil Mack.
With this roster, the only players remaining from the Baalke era are Joe Staley, Arik Armstead, Jimmy Ward, Ronald Blair, and Bradley Pinion. I think Lynch and Shanahan have done a truly remarkable job in turning this franchise around in 2 years.
QB (2): Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard
RB (4): Jerick McKinnon, Matt Breida, Raheem Mostert, Alfred Morris
FB (1): Kyle Juszczyk
WR (6): Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor, Dante Pettis, Aaron Burbridge/Kendrick Bourne, Richie James
TE (3): George Kittle, Garrett Celek, Cole Wick
OT (3): Joe Staley, Mike McGlinchey, Garry Gilliam
OG (4): Joshua Garnett, Laken Tomlinson, Mike Person, Erik Magnuson/Jonathan Cooper
C (1): Weston Richburg
DL (10): DeForest Buckner, Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, Cassius Marsh, Earl Mitchell, D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day, Ronald Blair, Jeremiah Attaochu, Jullian Taylor
LB (6): Malcolm Smith, Mark Nzeocha, Fred Warner, Dekoda Watson/Pita Taumoepenu, Brock Coyle, Reuben Foster
CB (6): Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon, Jimmie Ward, Tarvarius Moore, K’Waun Williams, Greg Mabin/D.J. Reed
S (4): Jaquiski Tartt, Adrian Colbert, Tyvis Powell, Antone Exum Jr./Marcell Harris