For the second consecutive year, one of the 49ers’ recent sixth round picks failed to make it out of the preseason. A year ago it was Ronald Johnson — the wide receiver from USC who the 49ers hoped would contribute both as a polished route runner and as a part-time punt returner — who the 49ers parted ways with during final cuts. He signed on with the Eagles, was activated from their practice on Week 17 and was recently put on IR with a dislocated left ankle.
Jason Slowey, a Division II tackle out of Western Oregon who the 49ers took in the sixth after testing out as a decent athlete during his pro day, was let go by the 49ers on Monday after struggling to move up the depth chart as a backup center. As Matt Maiocco said in the comments here, Slowey “was overmatched — not very stout at the point of attack.” I also noticed Slowey having trouble on shotgun snaps, but whatever. He’s gone, and probably won’t be invited back to be on the practice squad if he was cut this early on.
In case you missed it, here are all the players who the 49ers either cut or otherwise dealt with to get their roster down to 75 players (from the 49ers’ P.R. staff):
The San Francisco 49ers today announced they have moved RB Jewel Hampton to the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List and LB Darius Fleming to the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform List. Both players do not count against the 49ers active roster, and will not be eligible to practice until at least the Tuesday following the completion of week six of the NFL schedule.
The team also waived the following 12 players:
FB Cameron Bell
OLB Kourtnei Brown
DT Patrick Butrym
WR Ben Hannula
WR Joe Hastings
DT Matthew Masifilo
CB Cory Nelms
CB Deante’ Purvis
TE Joe Sawyer
OL Jason Slowey
K Giorgio Tavecchio
WR Brian Tyms
Nelms is probably the only other mildly surprising name on this list, although it’s never a good sign when you’re wearing the same number (23) as the team’s second round draft pick (LaMichael James) during camp. I was never all that impressed by Brian Tyms — great size, dynamic at times, but more than a couple times the phrase “drop Tyms” found its way into the notes I took while watching camp practices.
Out of the 75 players remaining, 47 are assured spots on the final roster (and “assured” means I’m 98% sure).
Ricky Jean Francois
That leaves six job openings, plus the eight-man practice squad.
The name of this list is strictly in reference to the fact that I’m the one doing the guessing here, so the commenters will know who to ridicule if this turns out wrong and who to ignore if these predictions turn out to be correct. Now that we have that settled, here are the toughest calls for the 53-man:
Scott Tolzein: 49ers fans love the guy, perhaps because his size and tools remind one of a young Joe Montana. Tolzein got into a rhythm during Week 1 of the preseason, but he’s averaged only 4.7 yards per attempt over three preseason games.
Josh Johnson: Reuniting with Harbaugh led to much in the way of promise, but not much so far in the way of production. Johnson hasn’t wowed anyone in camp (though to be fair, the media hasn’t seen 11-on-11 for several practices now), and he’s only attempted 11 preseason passes.
Rock Cartwright: He was brought in to replace Blake Costanzo, but he has also carried the ball 20 times. That’s second only to…
Anthony Dixon: He’s battling with Cartwright, and he’s shown flexibility in that he considers himself an everydown back but has put his all into special teams and fullback duties. He has 119 yards and a TD on 30 carries this preseason. Greg Roman said Dixon was in line to have his “most productive season” this morning on KNBR, so maybe he’s not on the bubble after all.
Ted Ginn Jr.: He’s the most polished and dependable returner on the team, and he’s also the fastest. Not only that, but Ginn has looked pretty good as a receiver in camp. But after injuring his ankle on Sunday, will Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh have the patience to stick with him?
Brett Swain: If the 49ers part with Ginn (somewhat of a longshot, but anything’s possible), Swain could have an opening here. He caught a TD during the 49ers’ first drive of the 2012 preseason, and there’s always the hair. (In the industry they call it “The Brandon Crawford Effect.”)
Konrad Reuland: All he does is catch passes during practice and preseason games (5 receptions for 51 yards so far). Will Reuland make it as the No. 3 TE, or will the 49ers use Dobbs in that role? The fact that Leonard Davis played some TE on Sunday wouldn’t seem to work in Reuland’s favor, but that could’ve just been Harbaugh messing with everyone.
Will Tukuafu: Like Dobbs, a two-way player. Tukuafu was quite active during the second half in Denver, recording a sack and throwing some vicious blocks as both a TE and H-Back. I’m probably being stingy, putting Tukuafu on the “bubble” list.
Ian Williams: Jim Tomsula will probably try to fight to keep Williams, a nose tackle on the rise who will probably be a contributor at some point in his NFL career.
Michael Wilhoite: Another defensive player who’s played a little fullback in camp, but it’s Wilhoite’s special teams ability that could land him a roster spot.
Erik Bakhtiari: Not that there’s ever a good time to get concussed, but Bakhtiari got kneed in the head against Denver and can’t afford to rest at this point. It’s now or never for the practice squad vet who collected two sacks in the Niners’ first preseason game.
Colin Jones: He’s more of a special teams guy than a safety, but that’s not necessarily an indictment on this team.
Darcel McBath: A second round draft pick back in 2009, McBath played in 13 games as a rookie for the Broncos and had two interceptions. With Robinson lacking experience, McBath could sneak onto the roster.
Kenny Rowe: For what it’s worth, he looked pretty good during the Denver game.
In my next post I’ll throw out my best guess as to which six bubble guys make the final roster, plus some even wilder guesses as to who ends up on the practice squad. Stay tuned!