When the 49ers report to training camp later this month, the organization will begin the process of transforming their 90-man roster to the 53 players who will open the regular season.
As we look ahead and attempt to project the players who will suit up for the 49ers this season, we placed each of the players into one of four status categories:
Locks: Each of the 33 players listed should be destined for the 53-man roster.
Looking good: It might not be 100 percent, due mostly to competition and outside forces, but we project 12 of the 15 players listed will be with the 49ers when the season begins.
50-50: It can go either way, but expect seven or eight of the 17 players in this category will secure spots on the roster.
Must impress: It’s an uphill battle, and in most cases the practice squad is a viable option. But we’re leaving room on the roster for one or two of these players to emerge and win a spot on the 53-man roster.
Here’s a position-by-position rundown of the 49ers’ early roster odds:
QUARTERBACK (3; keep 2-3)
Locks: Colin Kaepernick, Blaine Gabbert
Must impress: Dylan Thompson
The 49ers carried two quarterbacks a year ago, and that’s the most-likely scenario for this season, too. The only difference would be if Thompson impresses so much during the exhibition season that the 49ers believe there’s a good chance he would be claimed if placed on waivers.
RUNNING BACK (8; keep 5-6)
Locks: Carlos Hyde, Reggie Bush, Mike Davis
Looking good: Bruce Miller, Kendall Hunter
Must impress: Trey Millard, Kendall Gaskins, Jarryd Hayne
If you believe Miller and Hunter should be placed into the “locks” category, you’re probably right. But if Millard and Hayne perform so well on special teams and show enough on offense, it might force the 49ers to make a difficult decision.
WIDE RECEIVER (12; keep 6-7)
Locks: Torrey Smith, Anquan Boldin, DeAndre Smelter
Looking good: Bruce Ellington, Quinton Patton
50-50: Jerome Simpson, Dres Anderson, DeAndrew White
Must impress: Chuck Jacobs, Issac Blakeney, DiAndre Campbell, Mario Hull
Although we expect Smelter to begin the season on the non-football injury list, we’re including him in the “locks” category because the 49ers will certainly retain him under all circumstances. There should be very strong competition for the final two receiver spots on the 53-man roster.
TIGHT END (8; keep 3-4)
Locks: Vernon Davis
Looking good: Derek Carrier, Blake Bell
50-50: Vance McDonald, Garrett Celek, Asante Cleveland, Busta Anderson
Must impress: Xavier Grimble
This is the position where a lot of things can happen. The 49ers will look to deal a player or two from this position group, and who might have the most trade value? That’s why there’s some uncertainty whether McDonald will be on the roster to open the season. Bell has the least experience of anyone on the roster, but the 49ers appear committed due to their investment of a fourth-round draft pick.
OFFENSIVE LINE (15; keep 8-9)
Locks: Joe Staley, Alex Boone, Daniel Kilgore, Marcus Martin, Erik Pears, Brandon Thomas
Looking good: Trent Brown
50-50: Joe Looney, Dillon Farrell, Ian Silberman, Andrew Tiller
Must impress: Justin Renfrow, Ben Gottschalk, Sean Hooey, Patrick Miller
It appears as if seven players are battling for the five starting jobs. But the 49ers have to figure out what positions to place Boone and Pears. After that, the rest of the pieces should fall into place.
DEFENSIVE LINE (11; keep 6-7)
Locks: Arik Armstead, Darnell Dockett, Glenn Dorsey
Looking good: Tank Carradine, Quinton Dial, Ian Williams
50-50: Tony Jerod-Eddie
Must impress: Mike Purcell, Kaleb Ramsey, Garrison Smith, Lawrence Okoye
This is another spot where there should be good competition. Carradine, Dial and Williams are probably locks, but there’s just enough competition behind them to bump them from the “lock” category.
LINEBACKER (13; keep 8-9)
Locks: Aldon Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Michael Wilhoite, Aaron Lynch, Eli Harold
Looking good: Ahmad Brooks, Nick Moody, Nick Bellore
50-50: Philip Wheeler, Corey Lemonier
Must impress: Desmond Bishop, Shayne Skov, Marcus Rush
After a strong offseason, Brooks looks like a “lock.” But there remains a lingering question off the field that must be cleared up before he rises to that category. The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office has to yet to determine if any charges against him are warranted stemming from an incident in December at Ray McDonald’s house. Brooks was named in a civil lawsuit, accusing him of sexual assault.
[RELATED: 49ers full squad reports to camp July 31]
CORNERBACK (9; keep 5-6)
Locks: Tramaine Brock, Shareece Wright, Dontae Johnson
Looking good: Keith Reaser, Chris Cook
50-50: Kenneth Acker
Must impress: Marcus Cromartie, Leon McFadden, Mylan Hicks
Brock and Wright enter camp as the favorites to win starting jobs, but there’s a solid group of young players who might emerge as factors before the season begins.
SAFETY (7; keep 5)
Locks: Antoine Bethea, Eric Reid, Jimmie Ward, Jaquiski Tartt
50-50: L.J. McCray, Craig Dahl
Must impress: Jermaine Whitehead
The 49ers have chosen a safety high in the draft in each of the past three years. Dahl has been the No. 3 safety for two years in a row. He’ll definitely be back if he proves he’s the best option as a backup.
SPECIALISTS (4; keep 3)
Locks: K Phil Dawson, P Bradley Pinion, LS Kyle Nelson
Must impress: K Corey Acosta
All the drama ended when the 49ers traded away the best punter in franchise history, Andy Lee, to the Cleveland Brown last month. Pinion takes over, and he’ll compete with Dawson for the kickoff chores, too.