The San Francisco 49ers are in midseason form as they head into the bye week for Week 8. What makes this situation unique is how the have several players who are returning from injury.
Three players on the PUP, four players are on the non-football injury list while Glenn Dorsey is on the injured reserve/designated for return and Aldon Smith is on the reserve/suspended list. Players who should be on the 53-man roster in 2014 and returning from one of the lists include Dorsey, Smith, NaVorro Bowman, Marcus Lattimore and possibly Garrett Celek.
With reinforcements to come in for the second half of the season, there needs to be corresponding moves in order to make room for those players. Here is a list of 49ers who are on the fringe of being cut, released or removed from the 53-man roster when others return. The most likely players to be moved are the ones listed first.
C Daniel Kilgore: This one is pretty obvious as he suffered a leg/ankle injury on Sunday Night and he had surgery yesterday, according to Jim Harbaugh. Kilgore should be placed on the injured reserve this week as someone else’s job will be saved for the time being.
QB Josh Johnson: Johnson has been given the distinction of being released four times in one season with the same team and has traded spots with Bubba Ventrone recently. Given that he is the third quarterback, he is easily expendable as this position was a revolving door last season. However, no Jim Harbaugh team has had less than three quarterbacks with the team. It would mean that the 49ers would most likely cut someone from their practice squad to add an arm for the scout team. Johnson would not be eligible if he were cut.
DL Demarcus Dobbs: Dobbs was once considered to be a two-way player at both TE and on the defensive line. Today, he could be viewed as expendable in order for Quinton Dial and Tank Carradine to get playing time this year. It would not be shocking if the 49ers are trying to shop Dobbs as the trade deadline approaches for Tuesday. The return would not be much, but a low draft pick would be an acceptable salvage for a backup DL.
DL Tony-Jerod Eddie: The 49ers have seven defensive linemen and could easily carry six if they need to. What makes Jerod-Eddie valuable is how he is versatile to be plugged anywhere on the defensive line, something every team wants in a reserve. Like Dobbs, the 49ers could also want to trade Jerod-Eddie at the deadline if given an offer.
ILB Nick Moody: Moody is a special teams linebacker who has not played much on defense. With players including Michael Wilhoite and Chris Borland able to contribute on special teams, Moody could easily be bumped off the team when others return.
S L.J. McCray: McCray made the team in front of veterans Ventrone and C.J. Spillman with a strong preseason combined with a cheaper contract, making it a lower cap hit. He has not had the greatest regular season and was even inactive in Week 6 against the St. Louis Rams. The 49ers of course would need to fill his spot when everyone comes back.
S Raymond “Bubba” Ventrone: He has been primarily a special teams player for the 49ers, but has been viewed as the 53rd or 54th man on the roster as he has bounced up and down in the middle of the week. His chances of staying with team could be slim when Bowman, Dorsey and Smith come back. What does make him valuable is how he helps on special teams while nobody potentially returning, with the exception of Celek, can contribute there. If the 49ers value special teams, he will stay and someone else will go.
WR Quinton Patton: Patton is listed here for the fact that he has been inactive in all seven games so far this year. It’s very unlikely he is released with Brandon Lloyd and Michael Crabtree entering free agency after this year, but being buried on the depth chart will at least draw the thought of having him cut.
WR Kassim Osgood: Similar to Ventrone, Osgood has been released multiple times this season but come back after the 49ers have made roster moves. He is also a valuable special teams player that the 49ers like, making it unlikely he is gone.