San Francisco 49ers: 3 Tough Roster Decisions to Be Made

Jon Siddoway@@JSiddowayCorrespondent IMarch 13, 2017

July 27, 2012; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Josh Johnson (1) throws a pass during training camp at the 49ers practice facility.  Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE
Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

Decisions, decisions, decisions. 

The San Francisco 49ers—along with every other NFL team—face several tough decisions as they trim the current 90-man roster down to 53 in time for the regular season opener at Green Bay on Sept. 9. 

Some choices are obvious, but others will prove difficult as players continue to fight and perform at a high level. 

Be sure to pay close attention to the following decisions. 


Where to Put Anthony Dixon

A charismatic individual known for his silly tweets and even sillier bleached mohawk—not to mention a recent rap slogan taking over radio airwaves—Dixon finds himself in unfamiliar territory on the roster bubble as the season fast approaches.  

Able to pump up the fans from the sideline with ease, Dixon does little to pump them up when he steps on the field. The third-year running back—now attempting to make the team as a fullback hybrid—dances around too much and hits the hole too gingerly. 

The additions of Rock Cartwright and Brandon Jacobs—both big backs with special teams experience—make Dixon's role more blurry than ever. He'll have to play lights out in preseason games to keep the bubble from bursting. 

My take: Pop that bubble. Like a band-aid, the quicker the better. Dixon is expendable now. 


The Battle for No. 3 Quarterback

Alex Smith is the clear starter and Colin Kaepernick is the clear backup, but who is No. 3 on the depth chart at quarterback?

The most recent depth chart, released Tuesday, has Josh Johnson at No. 3 and Scott Tolzien close behind. So, who will it be when the regular season kicks off?

Head coach Jim Harbaugh has publicly praised the play of each quarterback. Asked whether carrying all four on the roster was a possibility, Harbaugh had this to say to reporters:

"Anything is possible. We’ll do what’s best for our football team. This is one of those things that was foreseen, that we have four very good quarterbacks, that these are four quarterbacks who will all play a very long time in this league."

The reality is the 49ers are too deep elsewhere to actually keep four quarterbacks on their roster. A decision has to made; albeit a tough one.

My take: Tolzien gets the nod. Both are talented, don't get me wrong, but Tolzien has the better command of the offense and a higher ceiling.    


Chris Owusu and Nathan Palmer

This is not the year to be fighting for a spot at receiver on the 49ers. Maybe last year or the few years prior. Not now.

Not after the numerous offseason acquisitions—free agents Randy Moss and Mario Manningham and first-round pick A.J. Jenkins—to bolster a receiving corps that already features Michael Crabtree, Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams.

Owusu and Palmer are both shifty, slippery-fast receivers ideal for the slot; Both went undrafted in April and both have been particularly impressive in camp. But numbers are not on their side. The 49ers plan on carrying five or six receivers during the regular season. 

That leaves Owusu and Palmer on the outside looking in. Should the 49ers cut the two, I highly doubt they clear waivers for the practice squad. Multiple teams in need of a wideout likely have their eyes on this situation in San Francisco. 

My take: Owusu—and his history of concussions and drops at Stanford—has the best chance of landing on the practice squad. Keep Palmer. He's a diamond in the rough.