The 49ers’ 53-man roster is set, with a couple of exceptions. Multiple players included among Tuesday’s cuts will be back with the team. Some will also stick around via the practice squad. Here is how San Francisco reached the 53-man limit:
Kroft and Willis will be on the 53-man roster soon, according to Matt Maiocco of NBC Sports Bay Area, who notes (via Twitter) the two have agreed to re-sign with the 49ers. Each is a vested veteran, allowing them to skip the waiver process. A Bengals draftee, Kroft spent two seasons in Buffalo and was with the Jets in 2021. A rotational D-lineman, Willis has been with the 49ers since 2020.
These two will take the roster spots of Jimmie Ward and linebacker Curtis Robinson, who will each be placed on IR. By waiting until Wednesday to move each to IR, the 49ers will ensure Ward and Robinson can play in 2022. Ward suffered what appears to be a significant hamstring injury and will miss at least the first four games this season.
Hasty has resided as a fill-in back for the 49ers over the past two seasons; they have needed him in each. The team currently rosters Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon and rookie Tyrion Davis-Priceat running back. Snead and Turner signed with the 49ers this offseason; each has practice squad eligibility. Teams can carry up to six vested veterans on their 16-man taxi squads. Mr. Irrelevant Brock Purdy beat out Sudfeld for the 49ers’ No. 3 QB job. Offset language exists in Sudfeld’s deal, Maiocco tweets, allowing the 49ers to potentially be off the hook for the $2MM they guaranteed him.
As they attempt to replace Laken Tomlinson and Alex Mack, the 49ers are light on experience. For now, that is not fazing the team. San Francisco is not planning to chase a free agent upgrade at center, Kyle Shanahan said during minicamp.
The 49ers turned to Jake Brendel as their first-teamer throughout OTAs and have continued this setup at minicamp. Brendel would be an atypical solution. The former UDFA turns 30 before Week 1 and has made three career starts — all as a fill-in with the 2018 Dolphins. Offensive line coach Chris Foerster was Brendel’s position coach during part of his Miami tenure. The 49ers are Brendel’s fifth team.
Mack retirement rumors lingered for weeks, and Shanahan said the coaching staff had been expecting the 13-year veteran to hang up his cleats since March. Mack’s mid-offseason retirement comes two years after Joe Staley did the same. The 49ers moved aggressively to replace Staley, trading for Trent Williams soon after. J.C. Tretter and Matt Paradis would are available, but free agency is not San Francisco’s Mack replacement plan.
“We didn’t want to make it a big thing and go chase stuff, especially when the player that we have in here has done a good job and has shown us in here that he can do it,” Shanahan said, via David Lombardi of The Athletic (subscription required). “… You know all the veterans out there. We’ve had an idea about it for a while, so we’ve been looking at all situations, and right now, we feel like we’re doing the best one for us.”
Shanahan’s praise notwithstanding, Brendel has played six offensive snaps in the past three years. The UCLA alum is not the only option here, but he seems poised to enter training camp as the clear favorite. The 49ers signed Keaton Sutherland, who played in one game with the Bengals last season, and drafted Nick Zakelj in Round 6. Zakelj finished his Fordham career as a tackle, but Lombardi notes the 49ers view him as a possible long-term center option.
No matter who wins the center job, the 49ers will move to their fourth primary snapper in four years. Weston Richburg‘s late-2019 injury — what became a career-ending malady — threw the team’s pivot plans off course.
“Jake made our team last year as a backup center,” Shanahan said. “In order to do that, you’ve got to believe they have an ability to start. We had a lot of confidence last year in Jake to make the team. If Mack would’ve ever missed a game or something, we wouldn’t have hesitated and we would’ve gone into that game very confident with him. We also have guys like Brunskill who has done it before, and I think we have some young guys who can do it.”
Following the 53-man roster cutdown deadline Tuesday, many teams will make slight tweaks to their rosters. In addition to waiver claims, teams can begin constructing their 16-man practice squads today. These Bengals, Browns, Ravens and Steelers moves are noted below.
Here are Wednesday’s AFC North transactions, which will continue to be updated throughout the day.