SF 49ers complete first-ever 16-man practice squad

A San Francisco 49ers helmet (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
A San Francisco 49ers helmet (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

The SF 49ers have completed their 16-man practice squad, which is a bit unique this year but has some notable takeaways ahead of Week 1.

In what’s been an offseason like no other, the SF 49ers now have a 16-man practice squad instead of the usual eight- or 10-man squads we’ve seen in years prior. Yet the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately changed the would-be 12-man group up to 16 players, and accommodated rules now allow for veteran players, who wouldn’t have been eligible in previous years, to sign with the practice squad if they failed to make the 53-man roster.

This affords head coach Kyle Shanahan to make some tweaks, particularly if a player is lost for a period of time to the reserve/COVID-19 list. Currently, linebacker Fred Warner is the only player on the list for the Niners. But with San Francisco creating a “52-man” roster, Warner’s place is essentially guaranteed without the need to open up another spot.

For now, the SF 49ers’ practice squad is as follows:

  • WR River Cracraft
  • S Johnathan Cyprien
  • DL Darrion Daniels
  • OL Hroniss Grasu
  • TE Chase Harrell
  • CB Tim Harris
  • RB JaMycal Hasty
  • FB Josh Hokit
  • WR Jauan Jennings
  • CB Dontae Johnson
  • DL Dion Jordan
  • S Jared Mayden
  • OL Dakoda Shepley
  • OL William Sweet
  • LB Joe Walker
  • WR Kevin White

Key takeaways from SF 49ers’ practice squad

Two areas where depth could be a concern during the regular season, wide receiver and the offensive line, saw some key additions in the B-squad. Rookie wide receiver Jauan Jennings was pretty disappointing in training camp, and it was clear he suffered from the lack of spring workouts amid an abbreviated offseason program.

One might expect Jennings to stay there for the duration of 2020, although having some experienced veteran depth, such as recently added wideouts Kevin White and River Cracraft, help alleviate concerns surrounding active-roster players returning from injury.

Namely Deebo Samuel (foot), Richie James (wrist) and Brandon Aiyuk (hamstring).

The O-line, meanwhile, has been plagued by injuries to two centers, Weston Richburg (knee) and Ben Garland (ankle). Richburg will start the year on the physically unable-to-perform list, putting him out of service for at least the first six weeks of the regular season. Garland could be back in time for Week 1, although his status isn’t exactly clear.

So it makes more than enough sense for the Niners to retain one of the reserve linemen they brought aboard during camp, Hroniss Grasu.

Dakoda Shepley and William Sweet should provide added depth here, too.

Interestingly enough, veteran strong safety Johnathan Cyprien initially told reporters he wouldn’t accept a role on San Francisco’s practice squad. Yet the former second-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who is looking to bounce back from injuries with the Tennessee Titans, ultimately recanted his decision and will stick around with the 49ers.

At least for now, adding some depth for the team’s secondary in case one or more of the team’s starters, Jimmie Ward or Jaquiski Tartt, goes down with an injury.

Two other rookies, undrafted free-agent signees JaMycal Hasty and Jared Mayden, were also pretty high-profile additions from these ranks entering 2020. They’ll be players to monitor over the course of the season.

For note, teams can protect four of their practice squad players from being signed by other teams to their respective 53-man rosters. So it wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see one or more of the Niners’ initial signees land elsewhere in the coming weeks.

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As of now, however, one can hope this reserve crop winds up providing San Francisco with the necessary insurance it’ll need over the course of the season.