5 49ers Who Will Be on the Roster Bubble in 2014
I understand the 49ers are in contention for the Super Bowl this season, but NFL GMs are always looking ahead. For today, I'll play the role of an NFL GM.
With such a stacked roster, the 49ers tend to have problems other teams covet. The 49ers could have 13 draft picks this year (including compensatory selections) and still end up in the Super Bowl.
What contending team can say the same? It's what makes the 49ers' situation unique.
Here are five players who will be on the roster bubble in 2014.
Note: I did not include players whose contract expire after this year.
Adam Snyder, OG
Adam Snyder signed a two-year, $2.45 million contract in the offseason. In addition, Snyder received a $500,000 signing bonus in the deal.
Snyder returned to the 49ers this season after a poor 2012 season with the Arizona Cardinals. He serves as the backup at both guard positions, though Snyder can play tackle if needed.
While the 49ers value Snyder's versatility, they can get more value from a young gun or another veteran. Outside of an injury, the 49ers use Snyder mostly in their jumbo packages.
Based off of film, the 49ers could find a cheaper and better player at the position. The 49ers really missed Leonard Davis this year.
Davis didn't play much, but in those heavy packages, he was an excellent situational player at an affordable price.
Because Snyder is a veteran with over nine years (including this season), his base salary stays at a fixed price. The 49ers could get the same type of production from a rookie or a younger free agent.
LaMichael James, RB
In some eyes, this may be a surprising selection. If you take a closer look, however, you'll see a running back that really has no defined role with the team.
After last year's postseason, many predicted big things for LaMichael James in 2013. However, reality sunk in when two major changes occurred.
The first was the return of a healthy Kendall Hunter. Prior to his season ending injury in 2012, Hunter was playing at a very high level.
It was Hunter's injury that paved the way for more playing time for James in 2012.
The second reason is a little more unclear. After igniting the read- or zone- option plays during last postseason, namely against the Packers, the 49ers simply phased this part out of their playbook in 2013.
This opened a role for James, who came from a college program in Oregon that ran this style of offense. It was fast paced and unpredictable, which suited James' skill set.
Take that element out of the offense, and it forces James to become a more traditional running back, which is something he is not.
How about screens and plays in space? Well, we've all noticed the lack of screen plays in Greg Roman's offense, which leaves me dumbfounded.
This all adds up to a player who doesn't really fit what the 49ers want to do on offense. Unfortunately, this issue may cost James a roster spot.
Remember, the 49ers have Marcus Lattimore waiting in the wings, plus Frank Gore and Hunter will continue to see most of the carries.
It's highly unlikely James will get cut. More than likely, the 49ers will try to find a trade for their young running back.
Craig Dahl, SS
For a starting safety, the contract Dahl received was appropriate. In fact, it's relatively cheap for a veteran like Dahl, especially since he also plays on special teams.
However, the 49ers have no need for Dahl under his current deal. With rookie safety Eric Reid fully entrenched at the position, Dahl is a luxury.
Many expected Dahl to start opposite Donte Whitner at the beginning of the season until Reid was ready to go. It turns out Reid was more than ready to fill in for the departed Dashon Goldson.
Now, Whitner is a free agent, the 49ers will likely re-sign their veteran leader. If Whitner walks, the 49ers will more than likely look to the draft for a replacement.
Dahl is a nice backup, but for him to return, he'll have to take a significant pay cut.
Jon Baldwin, WR
In a surprise trade that saw two former first-round picks being swapped, it seemed the 49ers got the short end of this deal.
The 49ers thought trading one disappointing receiver (A.J. Jenkins) for another disappointing receiver (Baldwin) would somehow work in their favor.
Expectations aside, Baldwin has been a huge letdown at wide receiver.
The 49ers desperately need a receiver who can stretch the field vertically for Colin Kaepernick, and Baldwin has the physical tools to fill that role; however, he's just never looked comfortable in this offense.
In all fairness, no receiver outside Anquan Boldin seemed to perform at a substandard level. Nevertheless, I expected more from Baldwin, a former first-round pick.
Maybe a full training camp will help Baldwin, but bets are all off when it comes to a roster spot after this season. The 49ers could look to the draft for help, as they have the ammunition to move up and grab an impact receiver if they so choose.
Carlos Rogers, CB
It has long been known that Carlos Rogers' roster spot is in jeopardy for the 2014 season. Again, this isn't a performance issue, though Rogers’s play has slipped since he signed that huge contract extension a few years back.
Rogers' cap hit for next season ($8,094,531) is absolutely ridiculous. For his level of play, some restructuring will have to happen, or the 49ers will have to say goodbye to their veteran cornerback.
Make no mistake about it, Rogers is still a key contributor on this defense. His versatility gives the 49ers some flexibility with their defense, but he isn't a game-changer on that end.
The 49ers will be in contact with Rogers' agent in the hopes of restructuring his massive deal. If the 49ers are forced to cut their veteran cornerback, he could still end up in the red and gold next season.
There are plenty of players who have returned to their respective teams after getting the axe.