Now that the exhibition season and training camp closed, most starting jobs are all but locked up or at least set with the front runners for those jobs. NINERS LIVE brought you 10 players who had the best opportunity for a second chance with the team on the practice squad after the cut down to 53. Now we will take another look and see who has improved their opportunity as well as those who have decreased theirs.
This list will be updated through the season
Tyler McCloskey, FB, Rookie
McCloskey continued his strong play during the Denver and Vikings weeks and has done everything he can to play his way into this roster. McCloskey would be on the roster if Kyle Juszczyk wasn’t on it, but there is no need to keep two fullbacks. On the practice squad, McCloskey can continue to develop and remain as an insurance policy in case an injury occurs to Juszczyk.
Cole Hikutini, TE, Rookie
Hikutini was signed as an undrafted free agent after the draft and was handpicked by the team because he has a skill set that works well within this scheme. Vance McDonald was traded to the Pittsburg Steelers earlier this week, and even with the trade, Hikutini still has a long road ahead to make this roster. Being on the practice squad will give him an opportunity to continue to develop and possibly earn a promotion later in the season.
Andrew Lauderdale, OL, Rookie
Showing well through training camp is why the team will want to keep Lauderdale around. His 266-pound frame is why he will benefit the most from a “Redshirt” year on the practice squad. This will allow him to get in the weight room and pack on the bulk to handle the rigors of a 16 game NFL season. With his talent and grasp of the offense, Lauderdale has shown that if he were 295 pounds, he would be in the mix for a place on the 53-man roster.
Eric Magnuson, OL, Rookie
Magnuson handled the second and third team duties well this pre-season making blocks and calls that opened lanes for 49er running backs. Daniel Kilgore and Tim Barnes are the front-runners for the starting and backup jobs at center this season, leaving Magnuson to the practice squad. At this point, only an injury would move him up to the 53-man roster.
Kendrick Bourne, WR, Rookie
“Momma there goes that man again,” is what defenders must have felt during a key drive against the Kansas City Chiefs when Bourne was the go-to target on a drive that would produce 8 points and put the team in the lead for good. On back-to-back plays, Bourne scrambled the feet of the defensive back, covering him in route to a 46-yard touchdown, and jumping over another defensive back to make a “Moss-Like” catch on a fade route for a 2 PT conversion. He is a real NFL wideout, and had he not missed most of the off-season work due to an NFL rule that keeps rookies from joining their teams until after their school has completed classes for the year this might be a different story and ending destination. But once again, like with most of the players on this list, it’s not about them lacking the talent to make the cut. Rather, it’s the numbers that bump them down the list. Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Jeremey Kerley, Aldrick Robinson, and rookie Trent Taylor have played themselves into a locked in roster spot. With most teams keeping only six receivers on the roster, there is only one spot left. Special teams is going to be the determining factor, and based on comments made by Kyle Shanahan about Aaron Burbridge and his special teams value, the numbers game plays against Bourne.
(Last week: Adrian Colbert, Lorenzo Jarome, Austin Calitro, Pita Tauoepenu, and Will Redmond)
Adrian Colbert, DB, Rookie
A defensive switchblade in being used during camp as both a cornerback and a safety, Colbert has shown value this summer. With the secondary returning to full strength, Colbert’s been bounced back to reality and the practice squad. The off-season emphasis on special teams means that it will be difficult for the young defenders to back door their way onto the team based on special teams play. When the season gets into full swing and injuries occur, Colbert’s chances of being called up will greatly increase due to his versatility.
Lorenzo Jerome, DB, Rookie
Lining up as the first team free safety will greatly increase anyone’s chances of breaking camp on the 53-man roster. Having established players returning from injury will greatly decrease the chance of anyone to hold onto their spot on the 53-man roster. Just like Colbert, Jerome has been the benefactor of the injuries that have befallen the secondary. As players return, we will see Jerome fall back to earth and the practice squad.
Austin Calitro, LB, Rookie
Calitro played well during his time in games this pre-season. But the numbers on defense, especially at the linebacker position, will make it difficult for Calitro to make the 53-man roster. But Calitro did show that he knows the system and will be an asset to this team.
Pita Taumoepenu, LB, Rookie
Pita has shown an ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage as an outside backer and rush end. But once again, it comes down to numbers. General Manager John Lynch has done a great job this off-season of bringing in competition at all levels of both the offense and defense. Pita seems to be one or two injuries away from an active roster spot, but it looks for now like this hard-working young man will come up just short of making the cut, finding himself “Redshirting” to begin his rookie season.
Will Redmond, CB, Third Season
Redmond was a member of the infamous “All ACL Team” former General Manager Trent Baalke created each season during the draft. While Redmond has recovered from the ACL that sidelined him his rookie season, once again General Manager John Lynch brought in competition by signing K’waun Williams. Redmond has been lining up as the Nickle Corner with the second team defense through training camp. Barring an injury to Williams, it does not seem like this is a battle Redmond is going to win. Redmond has not shown up big on special teams, which is a requirement for a player looking to make the roster as a fourth or fifth corner.
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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus, 49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Edward Erving Staff Writer @NinersLive.net and Content Creator, Editor, Sequoia Sims