SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers must cut their roster to 75 by 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and to 53 by 4 p.m. ET Saturday. Here's a final 53-man roster projection:
Note: Outside linebacker Aaron Lynch will be on the team but is suspended the first four weeks.
The real question here seems to be whether the 49ers will keep two or three quarterbacks. They've kept two in the past, but they also didn't have a rookie then. Still, Jeff Driskel was the 14th quarterback selected this year, and although he flashed promise in the preseason, it probably wasn't enough to win a spot on the 53. In an ideal world, Driskel lands on the practice squad so the 49ers can continue to develop him. As for Kaepernick, coach Chip Kelly recently said the team has had no conversations about cutting him, and it's hard to imagine they'd feel comfortable with Driskel or Christian Ponder as the No. 2 quarterback entering the season.
It's possible the 49ers will keep only three, in which case Davis or Harris will have to go. But as Hyde deals with a concussion, it stands to reason they might go a bit heavy here for the time being. Davis and Harris have had good moments in the preseason, but they've also had fumbling issues. If San Francisco opts to go with only three, it seems more likely they'll keep Davis over Harris and try to get rookie Kelvin Taylor on the practice squad.
Ellington and Smelter are dealing with hamstring injuries, and Treggs (knee) was making a good impression before his injury. Without knowing the extent of those injuries, it's hard to discern how this will shake out, but we'll operate under the assumption that two of those three will be ready for the start of the regular season. The 49ers traded for Kerley in an early effort to bolster their depth and provide insurance if Ellington's injury is serious. Given his experience in the slot, it makes sense that he'd stick around. Dres Anderson, Devon Cajuste and Aaron Burbridge have had mostly nondescript preseasons, though Anderson and Cajuste have had their moments. Don't be surprised if the Niners continue to search for ways to add talent here.
McDonald and Celek have established themselves as the primary tight ends with the starting offense. Miller is a key special-teams contributor, which helps his cause. Bell has been the most consistent of the others and offers versatility.
The first seven on this list are all but certain to land on the roster. From there, the 49ers are likely to keep another one or two options. Martin offers the versatility of playing all three spots on the interior while Theus allows San Francisco to at least continue developing one of their two fifth-round linemen from this year's draft.
The uncertainty of when Dorsey could return to action makes this one hard to figure, though the 49ers could find a way to stash him and bring him back on boomerang injured reserve if they wanted. Garrison Smith is the hardest name to leave off here after a strong exhibition season. He could still find his way on to the roster, especially if the 49ers decide to go heavy up front while Dorsey works his way back.
There's plenty to choose from here, and the 49ers will have some tough cuts to make, especially among the inside linebackers. Wilhoite sticks out because of his experience and ability to play both inside positions while Armstrong's special-teams acumen gives him a leg up and leaves Gerald Hodges on the outside looking in. Bellore's injury complicates his situation, and if he's not able to return soon, he could go and Hodges could stay. But Bellore is key on special teams. Rush gets rewarded for his big preseason while Aaron Lynch is on suspension.
Speaking of tough cuts, this might be the most difficult area to judge on the roster. The 49ers have depth at corner and safety and a handful of players who are important on special teams. Injuries are also a factor here. Dontae Johnson and L.J. McCray can both plead a solid case to make the roster. Johnson offers versatility and McCray is a special-teams ace when healthy. Cromartie edges out that duo for the last spot because he can play corner or safety and contribute on special teams.
Not much to debate here. Kicker John Lunsford will have to hope to catch on elsewhere.