Why Not? Early 49ers 53-man Roster Projection (Offense)
It's a slow day for 49ers news, and such slow days are likely to continue throughout the next two months, so I'm going to fill it with musings on the 49ers roster.  It's obscenely early to be predicting who will make the final 53-man roster, but I find it's always a good option for discussion and usually a good read for any 49ers fan starved for updates and the like. So today will be the offense, and at some point in the next 24 hours, I will do the defense. So without further ado...

Italics denotes a player who is officially of another position but backs up another one as well, and helps when I make final counts so I don't count them twice.

Quarterbacks: (3) Alex Smith, David Carr, Nate Davis
The quarterback situation seems pretty set. The team has expressed confidence in Alex Smith, and Carr seems to be the definite backup. There is a perceived position battle going on between Nate Davis and Jarret Brown for the third quarterback position but Davis has looked good so far in OTAs. Brown didn't get a chance to throw at the most recent team activities but he's a rookie, and thus slightly behind Davis. It should head up in training camp.

Halfbacks: (3) Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Anthony Dixon
This is pretty much set in stone, but I'm thinking more and more every day that the team might only keep one of Glen Coffee and Anthony Dixon on the roster, but at this point it's far too early to tell. Coffee didn't get a real chance to show off his skill-set last season under the circumstances. Michael Robinson is on the roster in my projection, but I have him listed as a specialist.

Fullbacks: (1) Moran Norris, Nate Byham
Brit Miller is going to push the veteran, and he's going to push him hard, but when it all comes down to it, the team wants another 2006-esque season from Frank Gore. With a boosted offensive line, there's no reason to believe that Norris can't return to that form and lead the way for Gore.

Split End: (1) Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr.
Not much to say here, Crabtree is the clear starter at the number one receiver position. If Brandon Jones makes the roster, he will be the backup here.

Flanker: (2) Josh Morgan, Jason Hill
I'm thinking Jason Hill will make the roster over Brandon Jones. They're of similar speed, Hill has shown more, and has had a good offseason so far. Brandon Jones' contract is also on the unreasonable side.

Slot Receiver: (2) Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams
Kyle Williams is looking impressive in training camp, and has added value as a punt returner. He should be a no brainer here--and Ted Ginn is an obvious choice for the slot position.

Tight End: (3) Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Nate Byham
No surprises here, except for maybe Byham. Some would argue that Byham won't make the team, but I think with one less wide receiver to worry about, and a boosted offensive line, the team would like to bring in a tight end as opposed to being too obvious and always bringing in an extra lineman. They have space for him.

Left Tackle: (2) Joe Staley, Barry Sims
Staley is the left tackle of the future. There are those who think Anthony Davis could be our LT, but that will only happen if it is radically obvious early on that he would be a much better fit there. (Read: he will need to struggle at RT while having Staley struggle at LT, while also showing in practice he understands how to play LT). Barry Sims showcased starting caliber left tackle play when filling in for Staley last season.

Left Guard: (2) Mike Iupati, David Baas
Iupati was the first round pick, and while Singletary says he'll have to earn it, he'll be the starter, because we all know he will earn it. David Baas has some versatility and was actually a serviceable starter--will be a very valuable backup.

Center: (1) Eric Heitmann, David Baas
Cody Wallace will be gone, after being a relative disappointment, the team just doesn't see potential in him anymore. Heitmann is the teams most consistent offensive lineman, and is the o-line coach. Baas was taking snaps at center in the OTAs, and has a lot of experience there. Should be a solid backup.

Right Guard: (1) Chilo Rachal, Adam Snyder
Snyder is a tackle, but can play both tackle and both guard positions. This is Rachal's last year to "get it together" after finishing strong in 2009.

Right Tackle (2): Anthony Davis, Adam Snyder
Davis was the teams' first pick in the draft and will likely struggle early on--but he also has the most potential of all the offensive tackles taken in the draft, and should do well with the help of guys like Joe Staley, Barry Sims, and offensive line coach Mike Solari. Snyder is more versatile than Alex Boone and Tony Wragee, and thus gets the nod.

On The Bubble On Offense
FB Brit Miller - Miller could definitely make this team. Things that he has going for him: extremely athletic, good hands, a defensive mis-match for his position, electric special teams player. Things that he doesn't have going for him? Moran Norris being almost indisputably better than him with lead blocking--something that will be asked of the starting FB a lot in 2010. Miller could make the roster as a backup RB/FB if Byham fails to make the roster, if the team goes without one of Glen Coffee or Anthony Davis, or if the team parts ways with specialist and 4th string running back Michael Robinson.

TE Tony Curtis, J.J. Finley - These guys have a history with the team and could definitely make it in place of Byham. It will all come down to blocking, which gives Curtis the best chance to supplant the less athletic Byham.

T Alex Boone, Chris Patrick - Patrick is a physical specimen and could play both guard positions and tackle. Boone is a guy who is extremely dedicated after one out-of-shape rookie season and seems to be improving every day. Both likely to be on the practice squad, both likely to not be picked up.

WR Brandon Jones, Dominique Zeigler - The team really likes Zeigler, and really likes what he's done this offseason. He hasn't been on the PS because he's not good enough, or that they just needed an actual body. Occasionally a player will make a PS just as a stopgap, Zeigler has always felt like someone the team wanted to succeed, so maybe he has matured enough and will get a chance. Brandon Jones was brought in for a reason, to be a deep threat and go-to receiver, if he can do that, he'll make it over Hill--but for now, I'm thinking Hill has the better skillset.

I think Sims versus Boone for the backup RT/LT position is, or ought to be, tighter than you indicate. Boone plays both sides, including RT, Sims doesn't. Boone was early round (1 or 2) talent in the draft before he ate and drank himself to where he is now. Sims is old in football terms, with no more than a year or two left in the tank, and costs 3-4 times what Boone costs. That should be important for backups if salary caps return. If the coaches see Boone being there in 1/2 year to a year, Snyder can cover the backup tackle role if Alex is not ready yet and Sims is superfluous.
Lead blocker: "Moran Norris being almost indisputably better than him (Bret Miller) with lead blocking...". Can you explain to us what makes someone better in this role? Is it subtle nuance, chemistry with Gore, or what? I would assume that speed, weight, learning the play calls and options, and technique are all that matter for lead blocking, and Miller should already be better for the first two than Norris. Norris showed some serious deficiencies in pass blocking last year. How is Miller at pass protection at this stage of his learning curve?
Miller >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>> NOrris
Look I know that folks love Miller. I do too. In another situation, I would take Miller in a heartbeat. But he has NOT shown that he has any lead blocking capabilities.

As far as the Boone bit, I like him too--but at the same time, there is nothing to indicate that he is ready at all. He can spend another season on the PS.

And I don't mean to talk as if I'm the end-all on these things, just so you guys know. I word things like they're final, but I understand it's anything but and I'm definitely just having discussion.
Black47 - I agree with you, Ginn's penchant for avoiding contact definitely means he isn't really suited for the slot. It was more of a way to spread it out on the depth chart and illustrate a WR1, WR2, WR3 more than anything.
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