The 49ers have trimmed the roster to 53, but the real target is 45. That's the number of players a team is permitted to dress for a game. That undoubtedly was one of the team's biggest concerns as it pared down the roster yesterday, and the 49ers undoubtedly will go into the season with several scenarios. During the course of the season, injuries will play a large role as far as who is inactive (In fact, they'll play a role next Sunday). Here's a guess at whom the 49ers are considering,
QB Nate Davis: He'll be the so-called "3rd quarterback," which technically is an inactive position. The third QB can enter the game if there are injuries to the first two guys.
WR Kyle Williams: He'll be the team's primary punt returner at some point this season, but there's a question as to whether his turf toe injury will keep him out early on.
OT Alex Boone: The 49ers are eying him as the swing tackle for the future. But as Mike Singletary said yesterday, Boone is not quite ready. As long as Barry Sims is healthy, Boone will sit.
C Eric Heitmann: He's off his crutches and in a walking boot. But Heitmann's broken fibula will keep him out the first few weeks. What happens when he comes back? It depends on how David Baas is playing. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.
G Tony Wragge: Either Wragge or Adam Snyder or both will be active early in the season. Adam theoretically can play every position on the line, which makes him a prime candidate to be active. But he's never played center in a game. That's critical with Heitmann out. Wragge is the back-up center for now, which likely means that as long as Heitmann is out, Wragge will be active. Wragge also is a valuable on special teams. He's in on PAT and field goal units and helps for the wedge on kick returns.
OL Adam Snyder: See: Wragge, Tony.
OLB Diyral Briggs: Once Ahmad Brooks gets healthy, Briggs will be the fifth outside linebacker. The issue here is that Briggs would be more valuable on special teams than Brooks and Travis LaBoy, neither of whom is particularly special teams savvy.
OLB Ahmad Brooks: He might be inactive early depending on how quickly his lacerated kidney has healed.
CB Will James: He's still recovering from a sprained ankle and will be inactive early early on. It will be interesting to see what happens when Williams returns from turf toe. When he's back, the 49ers wouldn't need CB Phillip Adams at punt returner. At that point, James could take Adams' place on the active roster.
CB Tramaine Brock: The 49ers like his potential, but he could end up on the practice squad as soon as the team finds an inside linebacker it likes.
Practice squad candidates:
OLB Bruce Davis: He's gotten better at playing linebacker. Best of all, he has pass-rush skills. A team never can have enough pass rushers.
DL Khalif Mitchell: He can play all three spots on the defensive line. That's a valuable guy to have handy in case there's an injury. ***UPDATE*** MM reports that Will Tukuafu, not Mitchell, will make the squad if he passes waivers.
WR Kevin Jurovich: The team has only five receivers on the active roster. Coaches will want to save those receivers some wear and tear during practice. Jurovich is hustle-type player and a quick learner. He's ideal for the scout team.
OT Matt Kopa: He's athletic, and his surgically repaired foot held up well through training camp. The question is whether the 49ers already have enough young tackles.
ILB Keaton Kristick: He made a nice transition from outside linebacker at Oregon State. He was always around the ball in preseason and he moves very well. He needs to get bigger and, most important, needs to learn how to take on blockers instead of running around them.
CB Tramaine Brock: See: Brock, Tramaine above.
-- Matt Barrows