For the first time in a great while the 49ers seem to be an enviable, or not so enviable, position depending on the way you look at it. There are going to be a tremendous amount of players they have to cut loose that are going to catch onto the 53-man rosters of other teams.
This means that San Francisco will not be able to hide anyone on the practice squad. It also indicates that a few of the players they are forced to release will make an impact in another city this season. Can Trent Baalke and Co. finagle a couple draft picks out of this excess of talent? That is the real question right here.
One of the most interesting positions that San Francisco has to address is quarterback. Jim Harbaugh indicated that Colin Kaepernick has the upper hand for the primary backup spot heading into the 2012 season.
The head coach stated that Kaepernick would follow Smith with Josh Johnson and Scott Tolzien finishing off the game in Saturday's preseason tilt with the Houston Texans. This is to be the second consecutive time that CK will follow Smith as the 49ers primary.
Tolzien, who impressed a great against the Minnesota Vikings, will close out the game against the Texans. This is where it gets interesting. San Francisco is only going to be able to carry three quarterbacks on the 53 and wont be able to hide anyone on the practice squad. That leave Tolzien and Johnson battling for the No. 3 quarterback position.
It seems that Tolzien has what it takes to be a starting quarterback in the National Football League. Despite a small sample size, a couple preseason performances, the Wisconsin product just seems to have the “it” factor. He runs the offense extremely well, seems to possess veteran quality field awareness and has above-average accuracy. There will be some interest on the trade market for Tolzien should the 49ers make the decision to place him on the block.
With that in mind, San Francisco might want to keep the second-year quarterback and groom him behind both Smith and Kaepernick. On the other hand, Johnson would just be released outright if the 49ers decide not to keep him. There wont be a tremendous amount of trade interest in him.
I just find it somewhat interesting that teams are going to be looking at the 49ers quarterback situation when adding players. Who would have said that two years ago?
Who would you rather see make the 53?
It remains to be seen how many running backs the 49ers plan to keep, but Anthony Dixon appears to be the odd man out here. Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Brandon Jacobs and Bruce Miller all appear to be locks. It could be between Dixon and Rock Cartwright for the final spot in the backfield. Both bring a great deal to the special teams, but Dixon is the only one taking reps at fullback. Are the 49ers prepared to go into the 2012 season with just Miller at fullback?
If Dixon is the odd man out, there will be some interest in his services. While teams could conceivably wait until San Francisco releases the former sixth-round pick, that would be a bit risky. We saw the same thing happen last season with Taylor Mays and the 49ers got a future seventh-round pick. Could be looking at a similar situation here.
There seem to be two 49ers receivers on the roster fringe who could draw tepid trade interest. Kyle Williams has looked good during training camp, but isn't a lock to make the team. Despite two disastrous fumbles in the 2011 NFC Championship Game, Williams brings versatility and talent to the roster.
The other player that might surprise people is Ted Ginn, who could be camp casualty depending on the continued success of Chris Owusu.
Ginn would more likely be released than traded, but teams do value difference makers on special teams, especially the return game. Williams brings much more value in terms of a trade and could probably net a sixth-round pick in return.
There isn't as much uncertainty on the defensive side of the ball. San Francisco appears set along the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. Ian Williams is the only player here that I see drawing some type of interest.
While the 49ers did pickup extra picks in the 2013 NFL draft, there is no reason to believe that they shouldn't look at acquiring more. Just take a gander at what the New England Patriots have done in the past.
When you have a surplus of talent it makes sense to play the other 31 teams in the league and see if you can acquire something in return. I expect Trent Baalke and Co. to do exactly that, especially on the offensive side of the ball.