- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:
Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers likely will only carry two quarterbacks. They finished last season that way. The competition will be to see if undrafted rookie Kory Faulkner can take McLeod Bethel-Thompson's spot on the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS (5)
The fact that the 49ers drafted Hyde in the second round and Lattimore is healthy means some tough decisions will have to be made. Kendall Hunter tore his ACL and is out for the season. That means James, who will miss the preseason with a dislocated elbow, will very likely make the team. Practice-squad player Jewell Hampton has been turning heads and has a chance to make the team.
WIDE RECEIVERS (6)
The 49ers are so much deeper here this year than last. That means they will likely have to keep six receivers. Lloyd might look good and Patton has too much potential to give up on. That means it could be tough for Kassim Osgood to make it, even though he is a special-teams cog.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek returns from a back injury and has a big preseason, he might be in trouble. Carrier intrigues the 49ers because of his size and speed.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
Assuming Boone ends his holdout, this is a pretty nice group of eight players. It's improved from last year. A solid veteran like Adam Snyder and a promising youngster like Ryan Seymour will have trouble making the team.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
This is another power spot. It's deep. Players such as Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. But this position is also unsettled. Glenn Dorsey might be out for the whole season with a torn biceps. Ramsey looked good in the offseason, but he is dealing with injuries that might impede his push to make the roster. This is fluid, but I'm going with Ramsey on the active roster.
Most teams carry six or seven linebackers, but the 49ers are stacked here, especially with NaVorro Bowman out for about half the season. Because fifth-round pick Lynch is promising, he should make the roster. Skuta is an excellent player, and right now the 49ers find a way to keep him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.
This unit is in flux, but I see Johnson making it. Don't be surprised if there is some in-camp jockeying as the 49ers look for the best mix.
Ward, the 49ers' first-round pick, will play nickel cornerback as a rookie, but projects long term as a safety. Ventrone and Spillman should stick because they are great on special teams. Craig Dahl could be in trouble.
This group is set, and it's excellent.