49ers' final 53-man roster projection (with 2023 season around the corner)

Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are going to be forced into some awfully tough challenges, aren't they.
San Francisco 49ers Offseason Workout
San Francisco 49ers Offseason Workout / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages
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Brock Purdy
Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers / Loren Elliott/GettyImages

49ers' Quarterbacks (3)

QB Brock Purdy

QB Sam Darnold

QB Brandon Allen

The top spot here was never in question, as the second that Brock Purdy was cleared to practice and then grew into his reps, it was clear that he was going to be the unquestioned starter not only heading into the regular season, but likely throughout the 2023 campaign.

The major change here is that Brandon Allen has been elevated to a member of the active roster. It was always going to be unlikely that the former Cincinnati Bengals' backup was going to survive being cut, clear waivers, and make his way back to the practice squad. This was so true that the question of rostering four quarterbacks came up through training camp (something that won't come to fruition but was a bad idea anyway).

Sam Darnold has been here all along, but he's now officially QB2 with Trey Lance in Dallas, although the decision to name the former Jets and Panthers' signal-caller as Purdy's backup ultimately led to the trade, not the other way around.

And so the 49ers will head into 2023 relying on Purdy to continue to ascend and hope that quarterback health, something that has eluded them over the years, will finally be a non-issue.

49ers' Running Backs (5)

HB Christian McCaffrey

HB Elijah Mitchell

HB Tyrion Davis-Price

HB Jordan Mason

FB Kyle Juszczyk

No surprises here at all.

Christian McCaffrey didn't play at all in the preseason but remained healthy and will look to continue his top notch work that he began when he was traded to San Francisco in the middle of the 2022 season.

Elijah Mitchell also hasn't played in the preseason, but that was because he's been banged up during the entirety of training camp. While I'd still expected Mitchell to make the team, his role may be diminishing simply because he can't stay healthy

Because of that, there's been a lot of opportunities for a pair of second year backs to show their mettle, and Ty Davis-Price, last year's third-round draft pick out of LSU, has really stepped up and could take over as the immediate backup to McCaffrey if Mitchell isn't good to go.

Mason still makes the roster, but he's not been as impressive as Davis-Price during training camp and in preseason snaps.

And, of course, fullback Kyle Juszczyk will be here. But watch for jack-of-all trades Jack Colletto to be a practice squad option if he clears waviers.

49ers' Wide Receivers (6)

WR Deebo Samuel

WR Brandon Aiyuk

WR Jauan Jennings

WR Ronnie Bell

WR Ray-Ray McLoud

WR Danny Gray

This is the first place where things get a little weird.

The top four are, to my mind, set in stone locks, with Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, and Jauan Jennings sticking around as the assumed top three, while rookie Ronnie Bell has made it impossible for the 49ers to cut him with his performance during the preseason.

The last two guys are here because they might be IR candidates, but in order to be able to return to the active roster this season, they have to first make the team and then be placed on IR. Nothing has been decided on either guy, but it's hard to see them not making the team either way.

If either McLoud or Gray is headed to the IR, then look for the 49ers to try to bring back a veteran like Chris Conley or WIllie Snead, provided neither is snatched up off of waivers, as they both look like the classic "cut with a wink" candidates that the 49ers are so fond of.

49ers' Tight Ends (3)

TE George Kittle

TE Charlie Woerner

TE Ross Dwelley

I know, I know. This is the same trio we've seen a lot of lately. Frankly, it says more about what the rookie tight ends that the 49ers drafted have done this offseason than it does about the quality of either Woerner or Dwelley's play during that same period.

Not to mention, third-roun draft pick Cameron Latu suffered a meniscus injury against the Chargers on Friday night which will require surgery. The timeline of that can be tricky, but is likely to fall into the 4-6 week range provided there are no complications or the surgery isn't more than a simple one.

The question becomes do you use a roster spot in order to activate him later in the season or will the 49ers just take this as an opportunity to provide Latu, who struggled through much of training camp and the preseason, a sort of redshirt campaign to work on his craft without the pressure of having to play.

Thats the way I'm going, but wouldn't be suprised either way. The hard part is that other positions may need more flexibility.

Look for Latu's fellow rookie Brayden Wilis to clear waivers and get added to the practice squad.

49ers' Offensive Lineman (8)

LT Trent Williams

LG Aaron Banks

C Jake Brendel

RG Spencer Burford

RT Colton McKivitz

OT Matt Pryor

OL Jon Feliciano

OL Ilm Manning

The staters here are locked in and have looked solid enough in their limited preseason action, although Trent Williams hasn't played at all.

After that, it has been shaky at best, so I'll go with the veterans in Matt Pryor and Jon Feliciano over some younger guys like Jason Poe, Nick Zakelj, or Jaylon Moore to fill the backup spots. That's true save for one spot, which goes to rookie undrafted free agent Ilm Manning, a player the 49ers seem to like a lot and who has shown good skill during the preseason.

That last spot could go a number of different ways, but don't be shocked if the Niners feel like they can't subject Manning to waivers and feel like keeping him around.