The 49ers will be allowed to keep 16 players on their practice squad this season, so let’s figure out who makes the cut.
There weren’t too many bright spots flowing from the COVID-19 altered 2020 NFL season, which was that fans couldn’t attend San Francisco 49ers games, changed schedules, regular testing, of players put on reserve rosters, and perhaps most notably, the Niners being uprooted from home games towards the end of the year.
But if there was a positive development, the NFL changed the practice team rules from 12 in previous years to 16, and that also included the addition of six players who would otherwise would not have been eligible after two accumulations. seasons.
Those same rules, which are described in more detail here, extend into 2021.
In the case of San Francisco, there will likely be plenty of players the team would like to retain to some extent, including some veterans, to help guard against another swarm of injuries like last year. Or at least to store development talent in the hope of introducing these players to the road.
With another preseason game to play and the final cuts to the roster to be made on Tuesday, August 31, let’s try to predict who will be named to the 2021 49ers’ practice squad to start the season.
2021 49ers training squad predictions
The Niners suddenly find themselves with a lot of depth in various positions, especially the defensive line and safe, although there are other places where emergency calls might be needed.
* Part of the NFL International Player Pathway program, which offers an additional practice team spot
Security Jared Mayden
Second-year pro Jared Mayden spent most of 2020 on the practice squad, and he even recorded an interception in San Francisco’s second preseason game.
For safety’s sake, there isn’t enough room on the 53-player roster, but the 49ers love its development.
Cornerback Alexander Myers
A recent offseason pickup, Alexander Myers has only one NFL game under his belt after rebounding a bit in the league over the past two years.
The depth of the cornerback is a question mark for the Niners, so having an emergency reserve would be smart, and he has yet to rack up a full season as a veteran.
Rear Josh Hokit
Josh Hokit will be a contingency plan for Pro Bowl back Kyle Juszczyk.
Offensive lineman Alfredo Gutierrez *
San Francisco can keep Alfred Gutierrez on the practice squad without him counting towards the 16-player limit, as NFC West received the inclusion of the NFL’s International Player Pathway program this year.
Offensive lineman Dakoda Shepley
Dakoda Shepley had some slamming issues this preseason and apparently lost the battle for the save center job to Jake Brendel, who also might not be on the 53-man roster anyway.
Still, having an emergency backup would be smart.
Defensive lineman Alex Barrett
Still only having one season racked up at the NFL level, Alex Barrett is probably one of those pieces that GM John Lynch has said he wants to protect to guard against attrition along the defensive line.
Defensive lineman Darrion Daniels
Linebacker Justin Hilliard
It’s a bit more difficult, especially with Azeez Al-Shaair suffering from a knee injury. But rookie Justin Hilliard has been a preseason second-half tackle machine at linebacker for the 49ers and could be one of those called in if Al-Shaair or another backer is out for a period. prolonged.
Defensive tackle Kevin Givens
Another tough issue, as defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans called third-year pro Kevin Givens a lot during the offseason. And Givens, who arrived strong in 2020, could easily be picked up by another team after cuts.
But the Niners would ideally like to try and hide Givens if they can, especially after Zach Kerr becomes a high-caliber replacement for starting nose tackle DJ Jones, and teams aren’t keeping three nose tackles on a roster. of 53 players.
Running back Elijah Mitchell
San Francisco probably won’t be able to afford to keep second-year pro JaMycal Hasty on the practice squad this time around, at least not after Hasty impressed in week two of the preseason.
Rookie Elijah Mitchell has yet to see preseason action due to a hip injury. And while that may change in the 49ers’ Exposure Finals, Louisiana-Lafayette’s sixth-round pick doesn’t have any NFL game stripes on him, so maybe that prompts him to stash. for the moment.
Linebacker Jonas Griffith
In week 1 of the preseason Jonas Griffith looked like a quality reserve but took a step back in week 2.
More of a traditional outside linebacker, the Niners likely choose to go with Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, who offers a bit more advantage on special teams and in cover.
Jordan Matthews tight fin
Finally, in the part where players have more than two seasons accumulated, Jordan Matthews presents an intriguing case as a converted wide receiver turned tight end.
He can’t block much, but his receiving prowess could help guard against injury from All-Pro George Kittle.
Security Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
Tavon Wilson and Talanoa Hufanga appear to be the favorites for backup safeties this year. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, a former first-round pick, did not play last year. He’ll be happy to stick around unless someone else needs him.
Read More: 3 Bubble Players Who Deserve To Be On The 49ers’ 53-Player List
Nsimba Webster wide receiver
Depending on who wins the return battle in the special teams, Nsimba Webster could end up on the outside, looking at the roster of 53 players. The back of San Francisco’s grand reception hall, however, is terribly fluid.
Cornerback Davontae Harris
Another recent addition to the offseason, stockpiling experienced replacement options at the cornerback will help someone like Davontae Harris stay in the folds.
Offensive tackle Shon Coleman
He hasn’t played a regular season snap for the 49ers since joining them in 2018, but Shon Coleman still seems to have a knack for sticking around one way or another.
Rookie Jaylon Moore appears to be the favorite for a swing-tackle role. But if that fails, the Niners will want another option nearby.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld
The Niners shouldn’t be keeping three quarters out of their 53-man roster, at least not with rookie Trey Lance now in the folds.
Nate Sudfeld’s release will cost San Francisco $ 252,000 in dead money, but it will free up a valuable place on the roster that can answer in-depth questions elsewhere, and no other team should be desperately clamoring for Sudfeld’s services anyway. .