Which 49ers are in danger of being cut with Nick Bosa back?

With Nick Bosa returning off the reserve/DNR list, someone is going to lose out on a spot on the depth chart.
San Francisco 49ers defensive linemen Nick Bosa (L) and Kerry Hyder (R)
San Francisco 49ers defensive linemen Nick Bosa (L) and Kerry Hyder (R) / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The 49ers are more than thrilled to see Nick Bosa back and ready for the regular season except these players on the fringes of the roster.

There was a very serious concern the San Francisco 49ers would be without their best defensive player, All-Pro edge Nick Bosa, for the start of the regular season.

With the Niners traveling to take on an always-prepared Pittsburgh Steelers team in Week 1, not having Bosa could have potentially been a disastrous way to start the 2023 campaign.

Fortunately, San Francisco doesn't have to worry about such things. Bosa is now back from his holdout after inking a five-year, $170 million deal that makes him the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

Before that, Bosa was on the reserve/did not report list, which meant he didn't count for a roster spot. With him returning, the 49ers were able to add him back to the active roster, which coincided closely enough to pre-Week 1 roster cuts.

Activating Bosa from this list does allow for a roster exemption, but the Niners will have to make a move by Sunday's game.

KNBR 680 described how this process works:

"Per the NFL’s transaction wire, Bosa was officially reinstated from the reserve/did not report list, which comes with a roster exemption.

That means the 49ers technically have a couple weeks to make a roster move, effectively with 54 players on the active roster. In reality, it means someone will have to be cut or placed on injured reserve by Saturday afternoon, assuming Bosa is going to play on Sunday."

OK, who?

These 49ers are in danger of being cut (or put on IR) with Nick Bosa back

San Francisco will need to make some sort of transaction prior to Sunday's contest, and it's possible that a player who is banged up with injuries winds up going on injured reserve, which means that player would have to miss the following four games.

Or, just as possibly, a player winds up being released or waived, depending on accrued years at the pro level.

Here are some possible candidates who could see their status change for the worse with Bosa back.

Cornerback Charvarius Ward

No, the 49ers aren't going to release cornerback Charvarius Ward. But he could possibly wind up going on IR with a heel injury that landed him on the team's Week 1 injury report.

Ward missed practice on both Wednesday and Thursday. And while head coach Kyle Shanahan told KNBR 680 that he's "feeling pretty confident" the No. 1 cornerback will play on Sunday, there's always the possibility of that being a false truth, and any lingering effects could land Ward on a four-week IR list.

Offensive lineman Nick Zakelj

It's rather odd the Niners named second-year pro Nick Zakelj to the 53-man roster after his exceptional struggles during the preseason, both in terms of allowing pressure and committing holding penalties.

Of a nine-man offensive line entering Week 1, Zakelj is still the least important player there, and he could arguably be the 53rd player on a 53-man roster.

It's not a good spot to be in, and perhaps he'd be the easy call to make room for Bosa.

Defensive end Austin Bryant

Edge Clelin Ferrell has to be a little disappointed about Bosa's return, since the former Clemson standout was primed to be a starter if Bosa's holdout lingered into the regular season.

But Ferrell's $1.24 million in guaranteed money for 2023, per Over the Cap, pretty much ensured he'd have a roster spot regardless of where he fell on the depth chart.

Fellow veteran pass-rusher Austin Bryant, however, isn't so lucky.

Bryant was already cut once for a procedural move after the preseason finale, subsequently signing back on for his one-year deal that gives him $550,000 in guaranteed cash regardless of that previous cut.

While having excess pass-rushers is usually a good thing, Bryant might end up being the odd man out amid Bosa's return.

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