The 49ers have cut down their roster to the final 53 players ahead of the 2020 NFL season. Let’s take a look at some of the most noticeable decisions the 49ers front office had to make in order to get their roster ready for their upcoming revenge tour.
Keeping Three Quarterbacks
One of the many noticeable decisions the Niners made in their cut to 53 is to keep three quarterbacks on the roster.
With such a talent-rich roster as the 49ers, the choice to keep only two quarterbacks would be perfectly understandable. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan appears to have a real fondness for third-string quarterback C.J. Beathard.
Beathard was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft (despite being touted as a fifth-round talent). Since then Beathard beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job during the 2017 season. Before losing his starting place to Jimmy Garoppolo – never to claim it back. Moreover, Beatheard is firmly the third-best quarterback on the roster. Nick Mullens’ impressive tenure under-centre for the Niners in 2018 made sure of that.
However, due to the issue of COVID-19, it is more forgivable this season to keep three quarterbacks on your roster compared to two. If Garoppolo or Mullens were to test positive ahead of a game on Sunday, the Niners still have a somewhat competent option there at quarterback.
Jordan Reed Insurance At Tight End
Prior to the final roster cuts, many believed the Niners would keep three tight ends instead of four. This is mainly due to the addition of Jordan Reed, combined with sophomore tight end Ross Dwelley sustaining an ankle injury which kept him out of camp.
However, the Niners have opted to keep some Jordan Reed insurance at tight end by keeping Dwelley on the final 53. In the likely scenario that Reed is either injured or on a limited snap count, Dwelley could see some meaningful playtime in 2020.
Also, shout out to Charlie Woerner. The rookie tight end out of Georgia has had a fantastic camp and expected to see his fair share of playing time in 2020.
Shanahan & Lynch Opt For Youth Over Experience At Safety
When it came to the battle of strong safeties it was very much a case of youth versus experience. Marcell Harris shone at times in the 2019 season, including stripping Lamar Jackson in Week Thirteen. However, the vet., Jonathan Cyprien, had played under Robert Saleh before in Jacksonville and brought valuable experience at his position.
In the end, youth won out as the Niners opted to keep Harris over Cyprien. The practice squad was an option for Cyprien as this year, due to COVID-19, teams are allowed to keep up to six veteran players on the practice squad.
However, Cyprien shut down any notion of staying on the 49ers practise squad when he told reporters, ‘To be honest with you, no, I wouldn’t be on the practice squad.’ At least you have to admire the honesty.
In Harris, the Niners have an exciting player full of energy and speed. I wrote about Harris here. Definitely keep your eye out for him on this vaunted 49er defence in 2020.
Jauan Jennings Heads To The Practice Squad
Another of the few noticeable decisions the Niners made includes moving rookie receiver Jauan Jennings to the practice squad.
A consistent bout of injuries has led to the receiver room becoming something of a revolving door during training camp. However, as we inch closer to week one, the final picture is becoming easier to see.
Deebo Samuel, Richie James Jr. and Brandon Aiyuk are all expected to be back ahead of schedule. If all three aren’t available for week one, they will definitely be ready to go come week two. While this is good news for the 49ers organization as a whole, it is bad news for Jauan Jennings.
Jennings’ likelihood of making the roster was dependent on the health of Samuel, Aiyuk and James Jr. With all three back, the former Volunteer finds himself on the practice squad.
Jennings would mainly operate in the slot. Using his big body to cause severe mismatch problems for opposing, smaller, nickel corners. This means that Jennings could still feature in 2020 since Jalen Hurd is out for the entire season with a torn ACL.
Power Over Pace: Jeff Wilson Jr. Makes The Cut Over JaMychal Hasty
Jeff Wilson Jr. won the final running back spot. This indicates that Shanahan preferred to have a ‘change of pace’ back on the team instead of loading up on speed with JaMychal Hasty.
Wilson Jr. has been a loyal servant to the Niners. Playing a crucial role in the teams’ regular-season success last year scoring the game-winning touchdown versus the Cardinals. Furthermore, Wilson Jr. is more of a physical runner than Hasty. As a result, Wilson Jr. is more useful in short-yardage and goal-line situations.
Hasty has since been put on the practice squad. Don’t be surprised to see the speedster make the Niners roster at some point during the season due to injury.
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