49ers final roster brings both questions and answers

With the 2013 NFL season about to begin, the San Francisco 49ers were busy finalizing their 53-man roster. There were some  surprises and some last minute retooling to the group that will comprise the list of 53 and that unit will continue to undergo changes as things progress throughout the year. 

Biggest Surprise

Most fans probably don’t even know who the long snapper is on their favorite team, but that wasn’t the case for the 49er faithful. For 13 seasons, Brian Jennings has worn red and gold and handled long snapper duties for the club. The veteran was let go as the 49ers try to get younger (and cheaper) at the position. In the place of Jennings, the team retained Kevin McDermott who is an undrafted rookie out of UCLA. McDermott handled 20 out of 22 snaps in the final two preseason games. He will make $405,000 this season which will save the 49ers a little over $500,000 towards this year’s cap. Jennings, a two-time pro bowler, said all the right things on his way out the door.

“I understand the 49ers’ position,” Jennings said. “I feel like if I were in a meeting room in the offseason, I would circle Brian Jennings at the long-snapper position and see if we couldn’t get younger and cheaper. You know?

“I would give that same advice. I know that the timeline — stretched out long enough– the survival rate drops to zero. From the 49ers’ position, I’m not going to be able to snap the football forever.”

Who are the Receivers?

If the 49ers had one major question mark, it was who was going to be the starter opposite Anquan Boldin. Maybe the question should have been who will get the most playing time opposite Boldin because the person who starts won’t necessarily be on the field the most. The 49ers kept five wide outs on their 53-man roster with Kyle Williams, rookie Quinton Patton, Marlon Moore and Jonathan Baldwin rounding out the group.

While newly acquired Baldwin will have to work his way up as he familiarizes himself with the 49ers’ system, Williams, Moore and Patton will rotate in and out as the they split time early on. The team will eventually add Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree to this group when they are recovered from their injuries. If and when that happens, the 49ers will no doubt keep six receivers as opposed to five but they will have to sacrifice one of the previously mentioned players. Their performance and health in the first half of the season will help the team determine who that will be.

Comings and Goings

There was a lot of excitement about outside linebacker Cam Johnson after the 49ers’ last preseason game. Johnson had two sacks and blocked a punt that he recovered for a touchdown. His big day secured him a spot on the initial roster before he was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a seventh round pick. While Johnson had promise, the 49ers are deep at outside linebacker with Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta all in place.

To replace Johnson, the 49ers then went ahead and signed Chris Harper, a rookie wide receiver who was released by the Seattle Seahawks. In Harper, the 49ers see a player who could be used in a tight end/H-back role similar to how Delanie Walker was utilized in previous seasons with the team. 

Expect Changes 

In addition to Manningham and Crabtree, the 49ers have a number of other players who will join the roster as some point during the year. Rookie defensive linemen Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, as well as cornerback Eric Wright, are all opening up the season on the reserve/non football injury list. They are eligible to come off after week six.

Defensive tackle Demarcus Dobbs will be serving his suspension during week one and does not count against the 53-man roster. When he is eligible again for week two, the 49ers must release a player to make room for him. Fellow defensive lineman Tony Jerrod-Eddie looks like the most likely choice. 

There has also been a report that the 49ers plan to sign former Cleveland Browns’ fullback Owen Marecic who played under Jim Harbaugh in college at Stanford. Marecic was released by the Browns and could serve as a backup to starting fullback Bruce Miller. It the reports are accurate, it could mean the end of Anthony Dixon‘s tenure with the team.

Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

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Al Sacco

Al Sacco is sports expert who knows football, baseball, basketball and hockey. He has spent his time as a sports journalist covering the San Francisco 49ers as a contributor to 49erswebzone.com and Ninerfans.com. He's been a guest on numerous podcasts and has had his work used on ESPN NFL Insiders and USA TODAY.


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