After finishing out training camp and the preseason, one of the final steps before the start of the regular season is cutting down the roster to 53 players. The 49ers cut 26 players from the roster with only a few surprises. Unfortunately quarterback Alex Smith was not one of those cuts, not that I was surprised by that considering he was named the starter for week one, but a fan can wish.
One of the unexpected cuts was a QB, but third-string quarterback Josh McCown. The move was a little of a surprise because it left Smith as the only QB on the roster who has taken a snap in the regular season. The only way we would have seen McCown on the field was if Smith and Colin Kaepernick either got hurt or were playing bad. McCown would have given the 49ers an experienced third-string QB although that does not mean he would have been effective. With McCown being cut it had more to with other players having a solid training camp and preseason forcing the 49ers to make the tough decision of keeping only one experienced QB on the roster and one rookie.
Well, you can make that two QB rookies on the roster as the 49ers announced today they signed quarterback Scott Tolzien. Tolzien was an undrafted rookie who was cut by the Chargers. If you watched the full game against the Chargers last Thursday, you got a glimpse of Tolzien completing 16 of 23 passes for 226 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Tolzien was quarterback at the University of Wisconsin and lead them to the Rose Bowl last season. The reason the 49ers signed Tolzien was because quarterbacks coach Geep Chryst’s brother, Paul Chryst, coached Tolzien as offensive coordinator at Wisconsin. Familiarity is good, I guess, but I am still uncomfortable with only having Alex Smith as the only experience QB, and now with two rookies backing him up.
Two players who made the roster that forced McCown and others to be cut were defensive linemen Demarcus Dobbs and Ian Williams. Both were undrafted free agents but played well enough to earn a roster spot. Even with Dobbs and Williams making the final cut the 49ers only have seven defensive linemen which is a low number for a 3-4 defensive scheme.
Offensive lineman Tony Wragge was also cut from the roster. Wragge has been with the 49ers for seven seasons but was mainly a backup only starting 14 games for the 49ers. Wragge has proven to be a solid backup but the 49ers have focused on drafting offensive lineman the past two drafts so he was expendable.
Two other surprise cuts were wide receiver Dominique Zeigler and cornerback Phillip Adams. Zeigler made the roster last season after spending two years on the 49ers practice squad. Zeigler was a deep threat with his speed but is still recovering from an ACL injury and with limited space on the team he was left out. There is a chance Zeigler could make it back on the 49ers practice squad if no team signs him. Adams was a seventh-round draft pick last year but he was also recovering from an injury from last season when he suffered a broken ankle in December.
Here is the 49ers 53-man roster broken down by position:
QB (3): Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien
RB (3): Frank Gore, Anthony Dixon, Kendall Hunter
FB (2): Moran Norris, Bruce Miller
TE (2): Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker
WR (5): Braylon Edwards, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn
OT (3): Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Alex Boone
OG (5): Mike Iupati, Chilo Rachal, Adam Snyder, Daniel Kilgore, Mike Person
C (1): Jonathan Goodwin
NT (2): Isaac Sopoaga, Ian Williams
DE (5): Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Ricky Jean Francois, Demarcus Dobbs, Will Tukuafu
OLB (4): Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson, Ahmad Brooks, Antwan Applewhite
ILB (5): Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman, Larry Grant, Blake Costanzo, Tavares Gooden
CB (5): Carlos Rogers, Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown, Chris Culliver, Tramaine Brock
S (6): Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner, Reggie Smith, Madieu Williams, C.J. Spillman, Colin Jones
K (1): David Akers
P (1): Andy Lee
LOS (1): Brian Jennings