Breaking Down San Francisco 49ers' Roster After 2014 NFL Draft
The 2014 NFL draft is over, the undrafted free agents (UDFAs) have been acquired and the San Francisco 49ers can now start shifting their attention to the formulation of a team that will put them in the best position to reach for a sixth Super Bowl title.
San Francisco enjoyed a fruitful draft, bringing 11 picks into the mix and turning that number into 12 prospects—the full list of which is provided by 49ers.com.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh's roster is already loaded with talent. There is little questioning that. The unofficial depth chart, released before the draft, can be viewed here.
Armed with this influx of talent, Harbaugh and Co. will have some tough decisions in the weeks and months that follow the draft. Entering training camp, the roster will need to be cut down to 90 players.
Already having 74 players under contract before adding another 12 prospects—plus seven UDFAs—cuts will need to be made.
As the 49ers enter training camp and then the preseason, further subtractions will need to take place in order to get the final roster down to 53.
In this slideshow, we break down the final starting roster for San Francisco as it prepares for its 2014 NFL campaign. Some positions will be easy to disseminate. Others, especially considering the added talent, will obviously be more complicated.
Of course there will be various circumstances that affect and change how the roster may pan out. Linebacker Aldon Smith's looming suspension is one such example.
So which players make it into the starting lineup and which players will find themselves in a backup role? Are there players in danger of being cut or placed on the practice squad?
Let's take a look.
Note: All projections for the 53-man roster are indicated by bold text. Standard text indicates player will either be inactive, cut or demoted to the practice squad.
Kicker: Phil Dawson
Punter: Andy Lee, Colton Schmidt
Long Snapper: Kevin McDermott
Kick Returner: Bruce Ellington
Punt Returner: Bruce Ellington
San Francisco's special teams unit may be in for a bit of a shakeup heading into 2014. Of course three critical elements of this unit will not change heading into the season.
First off, kicker Phil Dawson's job is guaranteed this season. Coming off a season where he converted 32 out of 36 attempts, the 49ers signed the 39-year-old veteran to a two-year, $6.134 contract.
The same security can be applied to three-time Pro Bowler Andy Lee, who averaged 48.2 yards per punt last season.
While San Francisco also has backup punter Colton Schmidt under contract, Lee will wind up being the starter in 2014 barring injury or any other outside circumstances.
A similar scenario applies to Kevin McDermott who took over for the venerable Brian Jennings last season.
In the return game however, the 49ers may be due for some changes.
Entering 2014, signs would have pointed to incumbent return man LaMichael James carrying the bulk of the load at these positions. But it is no secret that James is frustrated with his lack of touches on offense—often voiced via his Twitter account.
Now that the 49ers have drafted yet another running back in 2014, the chances for James to get involved on offense on a more frequent basis are diminished even further.
General manager Trent Baalke has repeatedly insisted that James will remain part of the 49ers organization and that the team is not looking to replace him as a return man per Kevin Lynch of SFGate.com.
#49ers GM Trent Baalke said the team is not looking to replace LaMichael James as a punt and kick returner.— Kevin Lynch (@klynch49) May 10, 2014
But with the addition of wide receiver—and collegiate kick returner—Bruce Ellington in the fourth round of the draft, one has to wonder if Baalke does have other options in mind.
Ellington returned kicks in all three of his collegiate years and even served as the backup punter at South Carolina.
In all likelihood, James is on the way out, and Ellington should be the favorite to take over this role.
On another worthy note, the 49ers added Catawba safety L.J. McCray as an UDFA following the draft. Per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, McCray has a good chance to fill in on special teams citing that San Francisco's top players there—C.J. Spillman, Bubba Ventrone, Dan Skuta and Kassim Osgood—are entering contract years.
Free Safety: Eric Reid
Strong Safety: Antoine Bethea
Backups: Craig Dahl, Jimmie Ward, C.J. Spillman, L.J. McCray, D.J. Campbell, Raymond Ventrone
Before the 2014 draft, it would have been a plausible assumption that the 49ers no longer needed to target a safety following the departure of Pro Bowler Donte Whitner via free agency.
San Francisco was aggressive in finding his replacement, signing former Indianapolis Colts veteran Antoine Bethea to a four-year, $21 million contract.
But the 49ers were indeed not done with further additions to the secondary—indicated by the signing of strong safety Jimmie Ward with the team's first pick of the draft, No. 30 overall.
The 5-foot-11 Ward played both corner and safety at Northern Illinois, which gives San Francisco plenty of added flexibility moving into 2014.
Jim Harbaugh confirmed that Jimmie Ward will compete at both safety and nickel cornerback. He raved about Ward's instincts .... However,— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) May 9, 2014
At the outset, there is a bit of a logjam at the safety position entering 2014. As indicated by Barrows, Ward will be competing for the starting safety position with Bethea. However, it seems as if the 49ers will be more comfortable with utilizing Ward in a nickel corner role per Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
While there is a strong chance Ward could win the starting job, the likeliest of scenarios has Ward being essentially an understudy of Bethea, at least during his rookie season.
#49ers Jim Harbaugh says Jimmie Ward will be used as a safety and as a nickel back. Will start in an "understudy" role— Mindi Bach (@MBachCSN) May 9, 2014
Of course the 49ers may elect to utilize a three-safety set more frequently in 2014—a defensive formation that is gaining popularity among top defenses in the NFL.
With second-year veteran Eric Reid holding down the free safety position, backups like Craig Dahl, C.J. Spillman, Raymond Ventrone and L.J. McCray will be vying for depth chart positions.
All three have likable attributes on special teams, which is where most should wind up.
However in terms of the immediate backups are concerned, Dahl—and his six years of NFL experience—should be the favorite to earn the No. 2 backup job.
Starters: Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver
Nickel & Dime Corners: Jimmie Ward, Chris Cook
Backups: Dontae Johnson, Darryl Morris, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox, Kenneth Acker, Keith Reaser (PUP), Dax Swanson
Barring any sort of setback or injury—which did take place last season—the Nos. 1 and 2 corners will be set heading into training camp.
Tramaine Brock, following his five-interception campaign last year, will take over as the 49ers' top corner. Directly behind him will be Chris Culliver, who missed all of 2013 recovering from injury.
As we touched on the previous slide, the 49ers' first-round draftee Jimmie Ward will likely see plenty of action as San Francisco's nickel corner in 2014.
Trent Baalke said the nickel position plays 60% of the defensive snaps. "So that's a starter in our opinion," he said of Ward's likely spot.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) May 9, 2014
After those three, the cornerback race is wide open.
It is difficult to accurately gauge what San Francisco plans on doing with the fourth-string cornerback position and beyond.
Four veterans will be competing for this position—Chris Cook, Eric Wright, Perrish Cox and Darryl Morris. Draft acquisitions Dontae Johnson and Kenneth Acker also figure to get in the mix.
Keith Reaser, who was picked up by the 49ers in Round 5, is slated to spend his rookie season on the physically unable to play (PUP) list, so he does not factor into the competition.
Cox—who was released, then re-signed last season—is probably the least favorite out of the veterans to earn a roster spot. Morris, on the other hand, has value as a special teams player even if his use in coverage situations is limited.
This leaves the primary competition between Cook and Wright. After spending much of the 2013 season recovering from injury, Wright saw limited action with San Francisco—appearing in only seven games over the course of the season.
During the offseason, the 49ers added free agent Chris Cook who, at 6'2", is two inches taller than Wright.
With Wright, the question is whether or not he can resurrect his career. Cook is still looking to establish his. Given the attributes however, this author would have to give the edge to Cook.
Depending on how Johnson and Acker fit into the equation, the 49ers do have plenty of depth at this position. Acker, being a sixth rounder, probably winds up on the practice squad his first season as the coaching staff looks to finesse his game.
Johnson has a shot to compete for San Francisco's fifth corner on the depth chart, especially if the 49ers wind up parting ways with Wright.
Outside Linebacker Starters: Ahmad Brooks and Corey Lemonier
Inside Linebacker Starters: Chris Borland and Patrick Willis
OLB Backups: Dan Skuta, Aaron Lynch, Darius Fleming, Morgan Breslin, Aldon Smith (NFL-mandated supsension)
ILB Backups: Michael Wilhoite, Shayne Skov, NaVorro Bowman (PUP), Nick Moody
The 49ers' linebacker crop is one of the few questionable positions heading toward the 2014 season.
It's not because of lack of talent, but rather what has transpired with two of San Francisco's most venerable talents.
With All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman eyeing a midseason return, per Will Brinson of CBS Sports, the door is now open for someone to take his place for the first half of 2014.
At the outset, Michael Wilhoite would appear to be the favorite. After all, he did perform a similar role for Patrick Willis over a handful of games when Willis suffered a groin injury last season.
Yet the additions of Chris Borland and Shayne Skov—both listed by CBS Sports as the Nos. 2 and 3 linebacker prospects, respectively—change this. If anything, they add competition for the job heading into training camp.
While Wilhoite could easily earn the starting job based on practical NFL experience alone, Borland could impress enough during training camp to warrant the selection in Week 1.
49ers get NaVorro Bowman insurance in round 3, at 77th overall pick, with Wisconsin LB Chris Borland. 49ers acing this draft.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 10, 2014
When asked about potentially filling Bowman's shoes, Borland replied via Cam Inman of The San Jose Mercury News, "I expect Bowman to make a comeback. He’s a great player. It’s way too early to look that far. I’m just going to find my role.”
No slight against Wilhoite, but a gut feeling gives Borland the edge.
With Borland and Wilhoite battling it out for the starting slot, UDFA Shayne Skov and Nick Moody will compete for the backup position. As far as that goes, this author sees Skov being the favorite given his Stanford pedigree and third-round draft projection.
The outside linebacker situation is a bit more precarious and undetermined.
Ahmad Brooks will start on the left. That prediction is easy to make. As far as the right outside linebacker is concerned, all if it depends on what transpires with Aldon Smith.
Smith's possible suspension and potential legal ramifications forced the 49ers to take additional actions during this draft. They did so by adding Aaron Lynch in Round 5.
Officially listed as a defensive end, Lynch will likely bring his pass-rushing capabilities over to the outside.
Lynch, who has battled consistency issues of his own, does have a ton of potential.
If Aaron Lynch keeps his head on straight, he could become a household name. Kid is oozing potential. Very talented.— Tre9er (@Tre9er) May 12, 2014
But at the outset, it is hard to see Lynch earning the starting job over Lemonier, who is a pass-rusher in his own right.
Instead, expect to see Lynch compete with Skuta for the immediate backup role.
UDFA Morgan Breslin will also compete for depth, but it is hard to see him cracking the 53-man roster when it is all said and done. At best, he makes the practice squad.
Who knows what implications this has on Darius Fleming, but in all likelihood he is the odd man out.
Starters: Justin Smith—Defensive End, Glenn Dorsey—Defensive Tackle, Ray McDonald—Defensive End
Backups: Ian Williams—Defensive Tackle, Tank Carradine—Defensive End, Quinton Dial—Defensive Tackle, Demarcus Dobbs—Defensive Tackle, Tony Jerod-Eddie—Defensive Tackle, Lawrence Okoye—Defensive Line, Mike Purcell—Defensive Tackle, Christian Tupou—Defensive Tackle, Kaleb Ramsey—Defensive Tackle
Again, there should be little surprise when it comes to formulating San Francisco's defensive front in 2014.
Ends Justin Smith and Ray McDonald will be penciled in as the 49ers starters at defensive end. Glenn Dorsey should get the nod at nose tackle after an admirable season taking over for the injured Ian Williams last season.
While Williams could earn the starting job in 2014, the plausible scenario is having both players rotate at nose tackle with 2013 draftee Quinton Dial serving an immediate backup role.
Both defensive ends—Smith and McDonald—will continue to be starters at their respective positions entering Week 1. The only difference is that San Francisco now has amicable depth behind each of these two defensive stalwarts.
Tank Carradine, after spending all of 2013 on the reserve/non-football injury list (NFI), will get his shot as the immediate backup to both Smith and McDonald. Potentially, Carradine earns more snaps as the season moves on in order to keep the veteran linemen fresh.
Carradine could eventually wind up starting based on how effective he is during his first full season at the NFL level. Time will determine that.
Tony Jerod-Eddie and Demarcus Dobbs also add valuable depth. Dobbs' contributions on special teams also cannot be overlooked. Jerod-Eddie could be the odd man out though.
This leaves Lawrence Okoye, Mike Purcell and Christian Tupou out of the equation. Okoye—the British Olympian-turned NFL player—is still a work in progress, but who knows what becomes of Purcell and Tupou.
The oft-injured Kaleb Ramsey—a seventh rounder from the 2014 49ers' draft class—should spend his rookie season on the 49ers' practice squad.
Starters: Joe Staley—Left Tackle, Mike Iupati—Left Guard, Marcus Martin—Center, Alex Boone—Right Guard, Anthony Davis—Right Tackle
Backups: Jonathan Martin—Tackle, Adam Snyder—Guard, Daniel Kilgore—Center, Joe Looney—Guard, Al Netter—Guard, Carter Bykowski—Tackle, Luke Marquardt—Tackle, Ryan Seymour—Guard, Fou Fonoti—Tackle, Dillon Farrell—Center, Brandon Thomas—Guard (PUP)
Entering 2014, there remains one predominant question surrounding the 49ers' offensive line—who starts at center?
Before the draft, all signs would have easily pointed to Daniel Kilgore. After parting ways with Jonathan Goodwin during the offseason, San Francisco extended a three-year, $4.85 million contract. This move indicated that the 49ers were comfortable with him as their starting center.
Yet the 49ers grabbed USC center Marcus Martin—tabbed by CBS Sports as the best player in the draft at that position—in the third round.
With Martin on board, Kilgore's shot at becoming the starter looks precarious.
Baalke said Marcus Martin will begin 49ers career competing for starting center spot— Cam Inman (@CamInman) May 10, 2014
We all know how much Jim Harbaugh and Co. love competition. This move ultimately provides that. Yet we cannot overlook that Kilgore has not once earned a starting job during his three-year NFL career. Granted his best chance would have come at overtaking Goodwin last season, but that never accumulated.
If Martin has an excellent training camp, expect him to earn the nod at center. Kilgore should serve as his immediate backup. Two-year veteran Joe Looney also can slide in to a backup role at the position if necessary.
UDFA Dillon Farrell most likely will start on San Francisco's practice squad unless he is released.
At tackle—considerably the most important position along the O-line—the 49ers are in great shape. Anthony Davis and Joe Staley will hold down those positions with offseason acquisition Jonathan Martin being the primary backup.
Luke Marquardt, all 6-foot-8 of him, could vie for a backup role after spending last season on the NFI list, but the safe bet is him landing on the practice squad along with Carter Bykowski.
The guard position looks a little more interesting, if not in 2014, but at least 2015 and beyond.
Mike Iupati and Alex Boone are the guaranteed incumbents. There is no doubting that. But Iupati is entering a contract year this season, and there are no guarantees the 49ers will be able to re-sign him.
This opens the door for Brandon Thomas, who was San Francisco's final selection in Round 3.
So like 49ers to take Clemson G Brandon Thomas, who needs time to heal from torn ACL but can be superb.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 10, 2014
Thomas is expected to redshirt his first season in San Francisco recuperating from an ACL injury. He had high-round potential, per Darin Gantt of NBC Sports, so this move obviously is part of the 49ers' plans for the future.
Perhaps in 2015, we see Iupati walk via free agency, and Thomas fills the void.
Starter: Vernon Davis
Backups: Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Derek Carrier, Asante Cleveland
Tight end Vernon Davis will once again be called upon to contribute in a number of ways in 2014. We all know that.
Davis, who posted 850 yards on 52 receptions last year, will continue to create mismatches in opposing defenses.
Behind him is slated San Francisco's 2013 draftee Vance McDonald.
McDonald could be an interesting commodity this season—one year after a relatively lackluster season where he posted a mere eight receptions for 119 yards. While this may be classified as a disappointment, first-year tight ends—including Davis himself—often take time to adjust to the NFL level.
Perhaps we shall see considerable growth from McDonald in his second year.
Behind San Francisco's Nos. 1 and 2 tight ends, the 49ers have Garrett Celek, Derek Carrier and Asante Cleveland lined up.
Celek obviously has the most experience out of the three and should be expected to land the third tight end slot.
But grabbing Cleveland as an UDFA does create an interesting scenario for the 49ers coaching staff.
Cleveland was scantly used in the Miami Hurricanes offense during his collegiate tenure. Yet one cannot overlook his 6-foot-5 and 260-pound frame when thinking about jumbo packages.
Perhaps if the 49ers are looking at adding some bulk to goal-line stances, Cleveland's addition to the 53-man roster makes some sense.
But in all likelihood, it is difficult to see anyone but Celek earning the nod for the No. 3 tight end at this point, rendering the other two off the final roster.
Starters: Michael Crabtree, Anquan Boldin
Slot Receivers: Stevie Johnson, Bruce Ellington
Backups: Quinton Patton, Kassim Osgood, Brandon Lloyd, Jon Baldwin, Chuck Jacobs, Devon Wylie, DeMarco Sampson, David Reed
It would have been an easy assumption to make that the 49ers would have tried to upgrade their wide receiver position following a lackluster year in 2013.
49ers fans can recall the receiving ineptitude that plagued the offense last year. No. 1 wideout Michael Crabtree was sidelined with an Achilles injury for much of the season. Quinton Patton suffered a lengthy foot injury. Kyle Williams failed to produce and was subsequently released.
The 49ers experimented with a plethora of receivers during the preseason—none of whom gained the substantial impact the offense needed.
As a result, San Francisco's passing offense ranked No. 30 in the league (2,979 yards).
They needed help. They needed speed. They also needed a red-zone threat.
Instead of executing what would have likely been an expensive trade-up in Round 1, the 49ers got creative—sending a conditional fourth-round pick in 2015 to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for 27-year-old receiver Stevie Johnson.
I really, really like the Stevie Johnson trade. Gives #49ers a speed weapon at WR, only cost a future 3rd OR 4th. Nice move, Baalke.— Matt Leland (@MattLeland) May 9, 2014
After the various trades San Francisco executed later on during the draft, that conditional fourth rounder essentially found its way back to the 49ers.
SF just got Denver's 4th-round pick in 2015...so WR Stevie Johnson is coming to 49ers for free.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 10, 2014
At 6'2" and 210 pounds, Johnson has totaled at least 1,000 yards in three of his last four seasons, giving the 49ers even more weapons for quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He has red-zone potential—another area the 49ers need to address in 2014.
Behind that, San Francisco then added South Carolina speedster Bruce Ellington with their first pick in Round 4 (No. 106 overall).
Ellington, who stands at 5'9" and 196 pounds, fits San Francisco's speed need this offseason. He also has experience returning kicks, which may give the 49ers leverage to part ways with current return man LaMichael James as we have already discussed.
With Johnson likely securing the No. 3 receiving position this season, Ellington and second-year veteran Patton will look to secure the fourth slot on the wide receiver depth chart. It's hard to predict who wins this battle, but this author would give the edge to Ellington based on his speed alone.
That leaves Kassim Osgood, offseason acquisition Brandon Lloyd, Jon Baldwin and a few others to fight for the scraps.
Osgood has value on special teams, so his value is relatively safe. Lloyd, on the other hand, is much more interesting. After sitting out all of 2013, Lloyd's return to the 49ers may be short-lived after San Francisco's recent acquisitions during the draft.
Lloyd's signing may very well have been little more than insurance for the 49ers, who did not know exactly how the 2014 draft would pan out. Had they not been able to grab receivers they liked, Lloyd would have been a nice stopgap option.
But after adding both Johnson and Ellington, it is hard to see Lloyd remaining on the roster.
Lloyd's one-year deal carries a $50,000 cap hit in 2014—not significant in the least. This scenario could be a prototypical "wait and see" move by the 49ers brass, much like how the team handled veteran cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha last season.
There is also Jon Baldwin—the player whom the 49ers received in exchange for A.J. Jenkins. Barring an incredible training camp, Baldwin's chances of making the roster are thin at best.
Starter: Frank Gore
Backups: Carlos Hyde, Kendall Hunter, Marcus Lattimore, LaMichael James, Jewel Hampton
Fullback: Bruce Miller, Will Tukuafu, Trey Millard (PUP)
As sad as it is to say, we are coming close to the end of an era.
Frank Gore's tenure in San Francisco looks to be nearing its end as the veteran running back pushes toward the final point of his storied career.
Gore will turn 31 years old before the 2014 season—ancient for NFL running backs. While we should not expect anything but 100 percent effort from the five-time Pro Bowler, it is safe to say the 49ers are planning for the future.
Initially, we thought this was being done a year ago when Trent Baalke tabbed South Carolina standout Marcus Lattimore—subsequently redshirting him as he recovered from a serious collegiate knee injury.
Lattimore has stated that he is ready to resume duties per Michael David Smith of NBC Sports.
All that sounds fine and dandy, but the 49ers continued to add pieces in the 2014 draft. At the end of Round 2, Baalke grabbed Ohio State back Carlos Hyde—widely regarded as the best running back available in the draft.
Trent Baalke said Carlos Hyde was the best player on their board. It's no slight on Marcus Lattimore. #49ers— Chris Biderman (@ChrisBiderman) May 10, 2014
It's hard to accurately disseminate exactly what the 49ers' plans are with both Hyde and Lattimore vying for the eventual top job. Perhaps the coaching staff is not all that confident in Lattimore's recovery. It is also possible that Hyde is just a better option over Lattimore regarding the depth chart.
Carlos Hyde not insurance for 49ers, he's the feature back of the future http://t.co/OY9yqz2zTr— James Brady (@JamesBradySBN) May 11, 2014
At any rate, the 49ers have plenty of options for the eventual replacement of Gore.
There are plenty of similarities between Hyde and Gore. Both are downhill, fall-forward backs who use power to their game. We all know how much San Francisco loves its power running game.
Gore is also a player whom Hyde admires greatly. Hyde stated via Andrew Pentis of 49ers.com:
Im so excited to get out there, they have Frank Gore. That's a a guy I compare myself to. That's a guy that I watch in the NFL that plays really well. I'm definitely going to get in there and compete and keep that running game alive.
Be it Hyde or Lattimore earning the featured-back moniker, the 49ers still have plenty of other questions to answer regarding the position—key among them, what to do with LaMichael James.
We've covered James' discontent with his offensive role already. The 49ers have already made moves regarding disgruntled players before. Remember Brandon Jacobs?
This is not to state James' frustrations have reached Jacobs' level, but the offseason additions have made James' value to the 49ers even smaller.
Bruce Ellington can return kicks. The additions of players like UDFA L.J. McCray also add options here.
This likely spells the end for James in San Francisco. We will see how that turns out.
Of course the big story is this—what happens after the 2014 season?
Both Gore and Kendall Hunter's contracts are set to expire in 2015. While retaining Gore is unlikely following this season, Hunter could also be on his way out as he looks for a more prominent role in some team's running game.
This leaves Hyde and Lattimore alone atop the 49ers' depth chart.
That's quite a two-headed monster.
Carlos Hyde + Marcus Lattimore mean a very interesting future for 49ers RBs.— Marcas Grant (@MarcasG) May 10, 2014
As far as the fullback position is concerned, Bruce Miller will retain that job without question. Will Tukuafu was simply a stopgap option after Miller's late-season injury last year.
The addition of Trey Millard in the seventh round does bring an intriguing possibility given his use as an H-back at Oklahoma, but it is hard to see him cracking the final 53-man roster in the next couple of years.
Millard is expected to redshirt his rookie season with the 49ers.
Starter: Colin Kaepernick
Backups: Blaine Gabbert, Kory Faulkner, McLeod Bethel-Thompson
We can stop all the talk about quarterback Colin Kaepernick's contract extension for a while. It will eventually happen and contract ace Paraag Marathe will make all the pieces fit.
Behind Kaepernick, the 49ers will employ a new cast of backup quarterbacks compared to last season.
True, San Francisco experimented with a flurry of backups last year—guys like Colt McCoy, Scott Tolzien, Seneca Wallace and B.J. Daniels all being experimented with in some capacity or another.
All of them are gone now, which opened the door for some additional acquisitions during the offseason.
First of these was the trade that brought former Jacksonville Jaguars' first-round pick Blaine Gabbert into the fold.
Gabbert will now have the opportunity to work with head coach Jim Harbaugh, who knows a thing or two about developing young quarterbacks. If Harbaugh can help turn Gabbert into something worthwhile, he may wind up being a viable trade commodity at some point down the road.
Who knows exactly how this deal pans out, but the 49ers can at least rest a bit knowing they have an experienced NFL-ready backup behind Kaepernick.
San Francisco then showed its willingness to experiment with young quarterbacks when it tabbed Southern Illinois quarterback Kory Faulkner as an UDFA.
Faulkner is a big-bodied, strong-armed quarterback who threw 18 touchdowns against four interceptions last year per Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee.
His 6-foot-3, 229-pound frame will compete against incumbent No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson for the 49ers' third stringer under center.
Per Barrows, Harbaugh met with Faulkner and said that the young quarterback has experience with read-option offenses. This could play directly to his advantage as training camp nears.
Thus, Faulkner gets the edge to make the roster.
There you have it—the post-draft predictions of San Francisco's final roster heading toward the 2014 season.
If you did your counting, you'll notice that that Ward is listed twice and the numbers do add up to 53—the maximum number an NFL team can carry over into the regular season.
Things can obviously change heading forward. The pending suspension to Aldon Smith is one such example. Injuries and stellar/poor performances in training camp also carry weight.
Yet all of those are factors we cannot entirely predict moving forward.
But at least we have a good start in determining how the final roster shapes up in 2014.
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com and Sports-Reference.com unless otherwise indicated. Additional draft information courtesy of CBS Sports.com. Contractual information courtesy of Spotrac.com.
Peter Panacy is a featured columnist for Bleacher Report, covering the San Francisco 49ers. Be sure to check out his entire archive of 49ers' coverage here.
Follow @PeterMcShots on Twitter.
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