Increased roster sizes
Another component of the new CBA, in part to mitigate the several impacts of having more NFL games, would be the expansion of the 53-man roster to 55 players, the same expansion to the 46 active players on game day and an increase of the practice squad from 10 to 14 players.
For the 49ers, who have dealt with more injuries than anyone can simply remember off the top of their heads, the practice squad has been an important tool. In just the last two years (h/t to both NBC Sports and Niners Nation), players such as tight end Ross Dwelley, quarterback Nick Mullens, cornerback Emmanuel Moseley and running back Jeff Wilson Jr. have been 49ers practice squad players.
Expanding the practice squad lets the 49ers potentially keep and save more players than before, a practice that has benefited them in the past and could do so in the future. The addition of two additional roster spots has a myriad of impacts.
For starters, the Niners could simply keep two borderline players they like rather than having to risk them to the waiver wire. Examples of that might include 2019 sixth-round NFL Draft pick, tight end Kaden Smith, who was cut for roster space by the Niners and enjoyed a productive season with the New York Giants.
A more fitting approach, especially given the state of the 49ers roster and their expectations for next year, would be an increase in low-stakes, high-reward signings, much like their attempt with cornerback Jason Verrett last year.
In the NFL, roster spots are simply a matter of opportunity cost — the next best alternative for the 49ers. Potentially swinging for a player who, if healthy or at a reasonable state, could provide an incredible impact at a limited price is exactly the type of move contenders should look for. I wrote about the 49ers potentially signing tight end Jordan Reed using this very logic.
Two more roster spots only allow for more of this style of thinking.