NFC West: Jermaine Cunningham

LONDON – The San Francisco 49ers roster is about to change.

The 6-2 49ers -- who have won five straight games going into their bye week -- are poised to get much better. They have six players who are likely to come off various different injury/illness lists including linebacker Aldon Smith, receivers Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree, cornerback Eric Wright, rookie defensive lineman Tank Carradine and rookie linebacker Nick Moody.

The 49ers will have to subtract from the 53-man roster with each activation. It will be interesting because this is a deep roster and some good, young players will be out. But that’s the trouble with having a good team. There’s no doubt the 49ers will get markedly better with the return of most of these players.

Here are some candidates to be removed from the roster: Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, receivers Marlon Moore and Quinton Patton (only if he is put on the injured reserve because his foot is not responding), linebacker Jermaine Cunningham, No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson and defensive lineman Demarcus Dobbs.

The most likely to go are Asomugha, Moore and Cunningham. They have not had a role in the past several weeks.

Complicating matters (again, which is a positive in the big picture) is the special teams coverage units are much improved. So players like Kassim Osgood, Bubba Ventrone, Darryl Morris, Nate Stupar and Anthony Dixon will be difficult to cut even though their role is nearly all special teams. The 49ers know improved special teams make them much more dangerous and that’s difficult to tinker with.

The roster roulette will likely start to occur next week. Manningham, Wright and Carradine all must be activated by early next week.

Cardinals beat run on linebackers

April, 24, 2010
The Arizona Cardinals traded up in the second round to take linebacker Daryl Washington for good reason.

The Dolphins had taken linebacker Koa Misi with the 40th choice. The Ravens then took linebacker Sergio Kindle at No. 43.

Arizona entered the draft holding the 58th choice. The Cardinals successfully anticipated a run on linebackers when they traded up to take Washington with the 47th pick.

The Steelers took linebacker Jason Worilds at No. 52 and the Patriots took linebacker Jermaine Cunningham at No. 53. Dallas then took linebacker Sean Lee at No. 55. The Patriots selected linebacker Brandon Spikes at No. 62. The Colts drafted linebacker Pat Angerer with the next choice.

Eight linebackers had come off the board in a span of 24 choices. Teams running 3-4 defensive schemes -- Arizona among them -- drafted seven of the eight. It's tough to know for sure whether Washington would have been gone at No. 58, but with all those linebackers coming off the board so quickly, Arizona played the odds well.