Numbers games: 49ers roster in perspective

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers' roster appears most interesting at running back and receiver.

The more I think about how much the 49ers want to pound the ball on offense, the more I see them keeping two fullbacks on the Week 1 roster.

Zak Keasey's broken forearm prevents him from becoming part of the equation early, and it's tough to see a team waiting two months for a backup fullback to get healthy. Enter Bill Rentmeester. Formerly of the Chargers, Rentmeester offers what preseason touchdown machine Brit Miller does not: experience at fullback. For the sake of this roster exercise, I'll pencil in Rentmeester for Week 1.

The numbers at receiver figure to swell while the team waits for Brandon Jones to heal and Michael Crabtree to sign and get ready to contribute.

The chart provides a framework for how many players the 49ers might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Cardinals.

Here's a quick look at which 49ers players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players (I made one change, moving Cody Wallace into the group of offensive linemen at Joe Toledo's expense):


  • Projected keepers (3) -- Shaun Hill, Alex Smith, Damon Huard

  • Projected to miss cut (1) -- Nate Davis

  • Key issue -- Teams generally keep fifth-round rookie quarterbacks. Davis lands on the practice squad if the 49ers release him.

Running backs

  • Projected keepers (5) -- Frank Gore, Glen Coffee, Moran Norris, Michael Robinson, Bill Rentmeester

  • Projected to miss cut (3) -- Kory Sheets, Zak Keasey, Brit Miller

  • Key issue -- Keasey's broken forearm could sideline him for two months. That's a long time to wait for a backup fullback. Rentmeester's experience puts him in position to contribute right away, while Miller is a project.


Tight ends

Offensive line

Defensive line


Defensive backs