Numbers games: 49ers roster in perspective

September, 5, 2009
9/05/09
11:26
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


No one can accuse the 49ers of keeping players for the sake of hitting quotas at various positions.

The team's initial 53-man roster featured two tight ends and eight offensive linemen, low numbers in each category. Perhaps the 49ers think they can use the waiver wire or other means to find players better than the ones they released at those positions. Fullback is another position where the team might add a player.

The chart below provides perspective for moves San Francisco might make before its regular-season opener. The chart compares the 49ers' current positional roster counts against Week 1 rosters since 2003, with one adjustment from previous incarnations: Allen Rossum is counting as a cornerback. I previously counted him as a specialist because he serves primarily as a returner, but I didn't want to get into making similar value judgments for other teams. Too hard to track that way.

Note that the 49ers have traditionally kept extra defensive backs in recent seasons, saving spots on the defensive line and at receiver.

While I would expect the 49ers to consider adding a tight end, offensive tackle and fullback, the teams has played Week 1 games with its current numbers at those positions. The 49ers opened each of the last two seasons with four running backs, same as their current total. They opened the 2004 season with two tight ends. They opened the 2004 and 2005 seasons with only eight offensive linemen. I just think the team could use depth at those positions while transitioning to more of a power offense.
San Francisco 49ers
Week 1 Roster
Counts since 2003
QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB ST
Today 3 4 6 2 8 7 9 11 3
2008 3 4 5 3 9 6 8 12 3
2007 3 4 6 3 9 7 8 10 3
2006 3 5 5 4 10 5 8 10 3
2005 4 7 7 3 8 7 7 7 3
2004 3 6 6 2 8 9 7 9 3
2003 3 5 6 4 9 9 6 9 2
Week 1 Fewest
3 4 5 2 8 5 6 7 2
Week 1 Most
4 7 7 4 10 9 8 11 4
2003-2008 Avg.
3.2 5.2 5.8 3.2 8.8 7.2 7.3 9.3 3.0
Current Over Avg.
-0.2 -1.2 0.2 -1.2 -0.8 -0.2 1.7 1.7 0.0

Equivalent charts for the Seahawks and Cardinals ran earlier. Rams chart to come.

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