San Francisco 49ers: McLeod Bethel-Thompson

Examining the San Francisco 49ers' roster:

QUARTERBACKS (2)

Because of heavy competition elsewhere, the 49ers will likely 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. Hunter is too valuable to let go. That means 2012 second-round pick LaMichael James will have difficulty making the roster.

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 may 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)

If Davis ends his holdout, I can't see the 49ers keeping more than three tight ends because of the glut at receiver. Unless Garrett Celek has a big camp, he may 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 (9)

This is another power spot. It's deep. Players like Jerod-Eddie and Dial are too valuable to cut. Ramsey has looked good and I have a hunch the 49ers may like him too much to expose him to the waiver wire. That means Demarcus Dobbs could be in trouble.

LINEBACKERS (7)

Most teams carry six 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. Dan Skuta is an excellent player, but there might not be any room for him. I could see him being one of those later-summer Trent Baalke trade specials because he has value.

CORNERBACKS (5)

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.

SAFETIES (5)

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.

SPECIALISTS (3):

This group is set and it's excellent.
The San Francisco 49ers added 12 players in the draft (and veteran receiver Stevie Johnson through a trade) during the weekend. The 49ers entered the draft with a stacked roster. Whittling down to the 53-man roster will not be an easy task this summer.

Let’s take a look at positions where veterans who could be in jeopardy of making the roster due to the additions.

Quarterback

Who could be on the bubble? McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Why: Bethel-Thompson finished last year on the practice squad. The 49ers are signing Southern Illinois quarterback Kory Faulkner as an undrafted free agent. The two will likely be battling for a practice squad gig.

Running back

Who could be on the bubble? Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James.

Why: The 49ers drafted Ohio State’s Carlos Hyde in the second round. The 49ers will definitely roll with Frank Gore, Hyde and Marcus Lattimore (if healthy) at tailback. Bruce Miller will be the fullback. That leaves one or two spots. I bet the 49ers find a way to keep the valuable Hunter. But James, who would be open to a trade, could be expendable.

Receiver

Who could be on the bubble? Jon Baldwin, Brandon Lloyd and Kassim Osgood.

Why: Johnson will be the No. 3 receiver and fourth-round pick Bruce Ellington will certainly make the team. The team also likes second-year player Quinton Patton. If the 49ers keep six receivers, Osgood has a good chance to make the team because he is simply awesome on special teams. Baldwin has virtually no chance to make the team and Lloyd, who was signed earlier this offseason, would have to have a tremendous camp to make it.

Offensive line

Who could be on the bubble? Joe Looney and Adam Snyder

Why: The 49ers drafted center Marcus Martin (fellow third-round pick Brandon Thomas will likely be on the PUP all season). That could mean Looney, who played well at guard in a limited role last year, could be in trouble, but I think the 49ers will give him every chance to make the team. Synder could be on the odd man out although the team likes this experience. This could be a position where the 49ers go heavy.

Linebacker

Who could be on the bubble? Nick Moody

Why: The 49ers drafted inside linebacker Chris Borland in the third round and they are expected to add former Stanford standout Shayne Skov on undrafted free agency. Borland will surely make the team. If Skov makes the 53-man roster Moody, a sixth-round pick last year, would have difficulty sticking.

Secondary

Who could be on the bubble? Chris Cook, Eric Wright, Craig Dahl, Bubba Ventrone

Why: This position will likely take some time to develop. The 49ers added three cornerbacks in the draft and first-round safety Jimmie Ward will play nickel. Ward and fourth-round pick Dontae Johnson will definitely make the team. So, a veteran or two may be expendable. Again, this will be a heated camp battle.

49ers draft notes

May, 10, 2014
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Thoughts on the 49ers’ draft:

The 49ers entered the draft with 11 picks. They ended up taking 12 players. Seven were defensive players and five play offense. I’d say 7-8 have a chance it make the 53-man roster.

For the fourth year in as many years as the 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh did not draft a Stanford player. This was Harbaugh’s last full recruiting class at Stanford.

Harbaugh worked out several quarterbacks, but the 49ers didn’t use a pick on one. If they keep three quarterbacks, McLeod Bethel-Thompson could be an option. He finished last season on the practice squad.

Receiver Bruce Ellington, who the 49ers took in the fourth round, is the cousin of Arizona running back Andre Ellington.

Harbaugh recruited fourth-round pick cornerback Dontae Johnson to Stanford. Johnson wanted to stay closer to home and went to North Carolina State.

The 49ers took Florida Atlantic cornerback Keith Reaser at No. 170. He is coming off two ACL surgeries. He had one in October and had it corrected in February. He is a down-the-road pick. Expect him to try to compete for a spot in 2015. Reaser was the cousin of late Redskins’ star safety Sean Taylor.

At No. 180, the 49ers took their third cornerback of the day in Kenneth Acker. He may be a practice squad candidate unless he has a great training camp. The fact that the 49ers took three cornerbacks Saturday is affirmation they did not like the top-end prospects as far as value went.

Like third-round pick, guard Brandon Thomas and Reaser, seventh-round pick, Trey Millard, is coming off a torn ACL. He will likely miss most of the season. He is a fullback from Oklahoma.
Blaine Gabbert is no longer the Jacksonville Jaguars' problem. But it doesn't mean he is the San Francisco 49ers' problem either.

Many fans may be shaking their heads at the 49ers, who traded a sixth-round pick this year (and a conditional pick next year based on playing time) to the Jaguars to get Gabbert. He has been an unabashed bust since he was taken with the No. 10 overall pick in the 2011 draft.

Look, the 49ers are not investing much here. They are simply taking a flier on a guy they liked three years ago at a bargain price. Expect the final year of his deal to be reduced; and the 49ers will still have 12 draft choices.

There is no guarantee Gabbert will even be the backup to Colin Kaepernick, who was taken 26 spots after Gabbert in 2011. Former NFL general manager Bill Polian said on ESPN on Tuesday he doubts Gabbert makes the 53-man roster.

But he will be given a chance by 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, who went to his pro day at Missouri while scouting quarterbacks. Harbaugh loves quarterbacks. He and 49ers general manager Trent Baalke like Gabbert. Harbaugh and his staff will coach him up and see if they can salvage his career.

"We thought highly of Blaine as an early entry into the 2011 NFL draft," said Baalke, who took Gabbert's Missouri teammate Aldon Smith at No. 7 in 2011. "He is a high-character individual that will be given every opportunity to develop within our system and we are looking forward to working with him."

ESPN analyst Matt Williamson thinks the 49ers have their work cut out for them.

"Gabbert can throw it and maybe Harbaugh can get more out of him, but Gabbert has very poor pocket presence and awareness," Williamson said. "He plays scared."

The 49ers will likely give Gabbert the first crack to be the backup quarterback. But they could also draft a quarterback in the middle rounds and they like McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who finished the season on the practice squad.

This is a look-see trade. If it works, great. If not, the 49ers will continue their search for a long-term backup.
The San Francisco 49ers will likely consider adding a quarterback in the mid rounds of the draft.

The team would like to develop a backup to young star Colin Kaepernick. His 2013 backup, veteran Colt McCoy, is a free agent. The team also has McLeod Bethel-Thompson, who could compete for the job.

Still, this is a deep draft, and the 49ers have a surplus of picks. And coach Jim Harbaugh is a huge fan of young quarterbacks. The 49ers looked at several last season. Here is a look at some of the quarterbacks who could attract interest in the mid-rounds:

Tajh Boyd, Clemson: Once considered a top-10 pick, Boyd could be tempting if he is available late in the third round.

David Fales, San Jose State: The local kid has the look of becoming a competent backup.

Jimmy Garoppolo, Eastern Illinois: He dominated at a low level. Could be worth a shot.

AJ McCarron, Alabama: He’s smart and a winner. Those are two wonderful quarterback traits.

Aaron Murray, Georgia: coming of an injury. Could be an interesting guy to stash.

Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech: He has all the tools. Could be worth developing.
One of the questions facing the San Francisco 49ers this offseason will be who will back up quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Colt McCoy is an unrestricted free agent. Wednesday, the 49ers secured one possibility when they signed McLeod Bethel-Thompson to a future contract.

Bethel-Thompson has been in the 49ers’ program for the past three months. He was claimed off waivers form Minnesota in October and spent several weeks on the 53-man roster as the third quarterback. He finished the year on the practice squad.

The 49ers like Bethel-Thompson’s potential and he seemed to be a good fit in the locker room and got along well with his teammates. After the NFC title game Sunday, Bethel-Thompson consoled a visibly upset Kaepernick.

The 49ers were not settled on Kaepernick’s backup in training camp and early in the season as they looked at several young quarterbacks. Once they brought in Bethel-Thompson, a San Francisco native, they settled at the position. If the 49ers do bring back McCoy, I could see Bethel-Thompson getting a chance in camp to beat him out.

I can also see the 49ers using a mid-round pick on a quarterback to groom as Kaepernick’s backup. The 49ers have a lot of options and there’s no doubt Bethel-Thompson is one of them.

The 49ers also signed running back Jewel Hampton on Wednesday. They are bringing back their entire eight-man practice squad from 2013.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers will be a three-quarterback team again.

The 49ers are adding quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson to the practice squad. He was cut by the 49ers on Tuesday to make room for star receiver Michael Crabtree on the 53-man roster. Bethel-Thompson cleared waivers Wednesday.

The 49ers will have just Colin Kaepernick and Colt McCoy on the active roster, but Bethel-Thompson will continue to practice and be able to be moved up to the active roster if there is an injury. The 49ers claimed Bethel-Thompson, a San Francisco native, off waivers from Minnesota earlier this season. He was with the 49ers in camp two years ago.

In other 49ers notes:

San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday it is feasible that CB Tramaine Brock stays in the starting lineup even when Tarell Brown (ribs) returns. Brown will likely be back in a week or so. Brock was promoted from the No. 3 cornerback when Brown was injured. Brown signed a four-year contract extension last week. It is a clear sign the team thinks he is a starter of the future.

Justin Smith was awarded an extra sack for his efforts against Washington. He finished with two in the game. Smith, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks each had two sacks in the game.

Brooks, who is having a tremendous season, discusses a variety topics in this ESPN Radio interview.

49ers’ safety Donte Whitner is not over the controversial loss to New Orleans in Week 11.

More change at No. 3 quarterback

November, 26, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The roster causality of the San Francisco 49ers activating standout receiver Michael Crabtree to the 53-man is No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson.

Thus, continues the merry-go round at the position behind starter Colin Kaepernick. Bethel-Thompson’s release is not a shock. The 49ers’ roster is deep and he was the logical player to get cut. He is eligible for the practice squad and the 49ers could place him there if he clears waivers Wednesday.

The 49ers claimed Bethel-Thompson off waivers from Minnesota earlier this season. The San Francisco native was with the 49ers in camp two years ago.

He was the fourth No, 3 quarterback the 49ers have had since camp. For now, the team will go with just Kaepernick and Colt McCoy on the roster.

Ex-49er Asomugha clears waivers

November, 5, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers are stuck with Nnamdi Asomugha’s entire $1.35 million contract.

Asomugha was not claimed on waivers Tuesday, a day after the team cut the 32-year-old cornerback. There was no room for Asomugha on the 49ers’ roster with cornerback Eric Wright coming back. Asomugha is now free to sign anywhere.

In other notes:

49ers safety Donte Whitner doesn’t think he was fined for a hit against the St. Louis Rams after all. Whitner said in early October that he was being fined $21,000 for his hit on Rams wide receiver Chris Givens in the end zone in Week 4. Many thought it was a legal hit. Whitner said Tuesday he filed an appeal, but never actually had the fine money taken away and hasn’t heard anything. The fine inspired Whitner to change his name to “Hitner.” He filed the name change in Ohio last month, and is hoping for it to become official later this month.

49ers third-string quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson is well known in England: He has spent a quarter of his season in London. Bethel-Thompson was with Minnesota when it went to London in September, and he was with the 49ers when they played there in Week 8. The Vikings and 49ers stayed and practiced at the same resort. “I’m working on my dual citizenship,” he joked Tuesday. “All the employees remembered me. I don’t think they understand what I was doing back there, but me and the omelet lady were on a first-name basis.”

The week ahead for the 49ers

November, 4, 2013
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- It’s time to dust off the NFL cobwebs with the San Francisco 49ers’ bye week now in the books. The 49ers are 6-2 and have five straight wins going into their home game against Carolina on Sunday. Here are some things to watch for this week:

Smith’s progress: The big story of the week, and perhaps the second half of the season, will be pass-rusher Aldon Smith. He was activated during the bye week from the Non-Football Illness list. He spent five weeks in an alcohol treatment center. The team will ease Smith back into football as his personal life remains the focus. Still, if Smith can get back into football shape (his first practice is a walk-through Tuesday) he will likely play some Sunday.

Manningham, Wright up: Rookie Tank Carradine and Smith were activated last week. Receiver Mario Manningham and cornerback Eric Wright will both be activated in the next day. Manningham will start as soon as he is ready to give much-needed relief. Anquan Boldin has been the only reliable receiver for San Francisco. Wright will be a backup. Among the candidates to get cut to make room for Maanningham and Wright are cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, defensive tackle DeMarcus Dobbs and No. 3 quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson. Rookie receiver Quinton Patton could be put on injured reserve with a foot injury.

Returner switch? We may see new punt and kick retuners. Kyle Williams struggled badly against Jacksonville in London. LaMichael James may get a chance to show what he can do at punt returner. The team wants to find a way to get the 2012 second-round pick involved. Anthony Dixon took over for Williams at kick returner and he got a big return in London. I could see him staying there. If that happens, Williams could get buried at receiver as well with Manningham coming back.
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.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- McLeod Bethel-Thompson is on the cusp of making history. It's fitting it will happen in Wembley Stadium, where his family has golden history.

Alford
Bethel-Thompson
Bethel-Thompson was a backup quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings when they played Pittsburgh in London on Sept. 29. Barring a roster move in the coming days, he will head back to London to become the first player to be on a roster in England twice in the same season.

The 49ers, who claimed the San Francisco native off waivers from Minnesota last week, play Jacksonville at Wembley on Oct. 27.

Bethel-Thompson will be a story for the English media again. Last month, he was popular there because his maternal grandfather, Wilbur "Moose" Thompson won the gold medal in the 1948 Olympics in the shot put at Wembley Stadium.

"I got some interviews for sure," Bethel-Thompson said of his September visit to Wembley. "They love their Olympics over there."

His grandfather is 93 and living in Southern California. He will not attend the game, nor did he when Bethel-Thompson was wearing purple. He does have a cousin teaching in Austria and she went to the Vikings-Steelers game.

"She's hit me up for tickets again," he said with a laugh.

Bethel-Thompson realized he'll be heading back to London shortly after he was claimed by the 49ers on Oct. 9.

"It was cool to be a part of that, the whole process of being in the same stadium as my grandfather," Bethel-Thompson said. "The second thing, it was just a very cool environment. Talk about 98,000 people and they're good fans."

"It's a very different vibe than American stadiums. They're very into it, with flags all over the place. It's a very cool place to play."

The 49ers are staying and practicing at the same place the Vikings did. Bethel-Thompson will be somewhat of a tour guide for his teammates who didn't play in England three years ago, when the 49ers beat Denver at Wembley in the final year of the Mike Singletary era.

"Obviously it'll be interesting to go back and it's kind of unique, but it's not really my focus," Bethel-Thompson said. "My focus is ball."
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- Donte Whitner is getting most of his publicity this season because of his pending name change to "Hitner."

Whitner
The Bay Area News Group reports the earliest he will play a game as Hitner is Nov. 25.

However, his defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said Whitner is more than just a player planning a name change.

“He’s played even better than he had last year when he made the Pro Bowl,” Fangio said of Whitner. “He’s still tackling very well. He’s running our operation back there, as you alluded to, with a rookie. He’s just playing with a lot more confidence. And he’s playing a little bit faster. Again, third year in the system. I don’t know. It’s hard to say the guy’s playing better when he had a Pro Bowl season last year. But, he is playing better. And he’s really enjoying playing. He’s having a lot of fun and he’s kind of become a leader of the secondary, and a leader on the team.”

In other 49ers’ notes:
  • San Francisco offensive coordinator Greg Roman said the 49ers had their eyes on quarterback McLeod Bethel-Thompson for some time. He was claimed off waivers from Minnesota on Wednesday. Bethel-Thompson, who practiced with the 49ers on Thursday, was in San Francisco’s camp in 2011. He is a San Francisco native. “(We were) very impressed when he was here as a young guy coming out,” Roman said. “Liked his demeanor, his release, a lot of things about him. He went and played in a different league, ended up with the Vikings for a while and he’s somebody that we’ve really liked since Day 1. As fate has it, here he is. We have an opportunity to get him and we get him.”
  • ESPN’s Kevin Seifert thinks Colin Kaepernick as the fourth best quarterback salary value in the NFL. Check it out.
  • In an Insider piece, Mel Kiper thinks Insider 49ers’ safety Eric Reid has been the 12th best rookie in the NFL so far.

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