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September 2, 2011
53 men, a roster projection

Phillip Adams, Ronald Johnson, Colin Jones, Tony Wragge, Ian Williams, Keaton Kristick, Konrad Reuland, Moran Norris, Lance Long and Alex Joseph. Ladies and gentlemen, these are your 2011 roster-bubble players. Here's how I see the 53-man roster shaping up Saturday. Please feel free to disagree. In fact, disagree your little hearts out in the comments section below.

norris.jpg

Offense:

Offensive linemen: 9 - Starters: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Chilo Rachal and Anthony Davis. Backups: Adam Snyder, Alex Boone, Daniel Kilgore and Mike Person.
Notes: Wragge is the odd man out, not because he didn't play well in the preseason (he did) but because the 49ers only figure to activate seven offensive linemen on game days. The team is high on rookies Kilgore and Person. It makes little sense to have three offensive linemen inactive each game.

Wide receivers: 5 - Starters: Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree. Backups: Joshua Morgan, Ted Ginn, Kyle Williams.
Notes: Ronald Johnson also could make the squad, but it doesn't seem like a big risk to put him on the practice squad. He didn't put out a lot of good film in the preseason, catching only one pass for eight yards. Lance Long was consistent since Day 1. However, the 49ers don't need him. He does not have practice-squad eligibility.

Tight ends: 3 - Starters: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker. Backups: Konrad Reuland or player to be named later.
Notes: Reuland didn't get a lot of snaps Thursday, possibly because he was nicked in the Texans game. This is one of the positions for which the 49ers will scan the waiver wire this weekend.

Running backs: 5 - Starter: Frank Gore. Backups: Kendall Hunter, Anthony Dixon, Moran Norris (FB) and Bruce Miller (FB).
Notes: Norris played a lot with the starters Thursday and played well. He helped spring Hunter on his 21-yard scamper on the opening drive. Miller makes the team because he is valuable on special teams. If he continues to progress as a fullback, Norris will become expendable as the season goes on.

Quarterbacks: 3 - Starter: Alex Smith. Backups: Colin Kaepernick, Josh McCown.
Notes: Kaepernick will be listed as the backup and he could get into the game in some Wildcat-like formations this season. But if something were to happen to Smith, you have to believe McCown would come in. The 49ers also will be scanning the wires for a quarterback. Remember, this is when they added Troy Smith last season.

Defense:

Defensive line: 7 - Starters: Justin Smith, Isaac Sopoaga, Ray McDonald. Backups: Ricky Jean Francois, Will Tukuafu, Demarcus Dobbs, Ian Williams.
Notes: This is a lot of linemen for a 3-4 defense to carry, but the 49ers have young talent they can't afford not to develop.

Outside linebackers: 4 - Starters: Parys Haralson and Ahmad Brooks. Backups: Aldon Smith, Antwan Applewhite.
Notes: Yes, Haralson will officially be the starter, but look for Smith to get almost as many snaps early on. Applewhite is a distant No. 4 and you have to wonder if the 49ers would be willing to look at another team's castoff.

Inside linebackers: 4 - Starters: Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman. Backups: Larry Grant, Blake Costanzo.
Notes: Costanzo and safety C.J. Spillman could be the 49ers' best special teams players. Costanzo could play inside linebacker in a pinch. Both Kristick and Joseph are eligible for the practice squad. The 49ers will have to choose between the two.

Cornerbacks: 5 - Starters: Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown. Backups: Shawntae Spencer, Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver.
Notes: Spencer could regain the starting spot once he is healthy and can practice for a long stretch. The odd man out here is Phillip Adams, who is clearly not recovered from his ankle injury. He is not practice-squad eligible, so the team very well could carve out a spot for him in the belief that he'll continue to make progress.

Safety: 5 - Starters: Donte Whitner, Dashon Goldson. Backups; Reggie Smith, Madieu Williams, Spillman.
Notes: The coaching staff clearly wanted rookie Colin Jones to win a roster spot. But he was not the special teams demon in the preseason they hoped he would be. He, Chris Maragos and Curtis Taylor all have practice-squad eligibility.

Specialists: 3 - Starters: David Akers, Andy Lee, Brian Jennings.

Practice squad:

This is bound to be wrong because the squad always is made up of a mixture of players from the 49ers offseason roster as well as some who played elsewhere. Still, here's a stab:

QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson (Adam Froman also is available)
RB Xavier Omon
NT Sealver Siliga
WR Ronald Johnson
WR Chris Hogan
S Chris Maragos
LB Keaton Kristick
G Derek Hall

-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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