The draft class roster rundown
QB Alex Smith (first round, No. 1 selection overall): With the spotlight shining brightly on him since the first day of camp, Smith has steadily progressed in incremental steps virtually every practice. The 49ers have to be pleased with the way he is picking up the offense, taking charge of the huddle and already learning to limit his mistakes. Smith has been strong with the short and intermediate throws, but even more promising is the potential he has shown with his deep throws. Smith still has a long way to go to become a NFL starter that can lead this team to victory, but he seems to get better every day, and already is the most impressive and athletic of the team's fourth quarterbacks. Status: Roster lock. OL David Baas (2, 33): All Baas can do right now is watch from the sidelines as the Niners scramble to fill the void created in the offensive line by his partially torn hamstring. During the week before camp practices began July 30, Baas was headed uphill on a conditioning run near his home in Wisconsin when the injury occurred. Time is the only thing that can heal this injury, and Baas is likely out for the entire preseason and could miss the season opener. The team is optimistic he'll be ready by then, but whenever he does return he'll be behind the learning curve, particularly for a starter. Status: Roster lock. RB Frank Gore (3, 65): When Gore was taken with the first pick of the third round in April, several draft observers said either that the Niners reached or they took a big risk by selecting the Miami product so high. But Gore has looked every bit worth the pick so far, displaying good vision, churning power and a burst through the hole. His quickness, agility and ability to change direction make him a legitimate breakaway threat. He's a bit short at 5-foot-9, and his blocking needs work, but he's a nice complement to Kevan Barlow and will make his carries count. Status: Roster lock. OL Adam Snyder (3, 94): It would have been nice if the Niners could have plopped down Snyder at tackle and allowed him to refine his technique at the position behind starters Jonas Jennings and Kwame Harris. But no such luck. When Baas went down, Snyder – the team's next-best offensive lineman – had to step up and slip into the starting lineup. He has done well with the physical aspect of the position but is having mixed results with the technique aspect. Snyder doesn't possess the athleticism of Baas or left guard Justin Smiley, but he's holding his own and managing not to get burnt after being throw into the fire. Status: Roster lock. DT Ronnie Fields (5,137): He's a load in the middle of the defensive interior and, while his technique is still raw, he has shown an ability to play at this level. The biggest challenge for Fields is that his competitors at noseguard – Anthony Adams and Isaac Sopoaga – both are having solid camps and taking command at a position where the 49ers would have to do some roster maneuvering to keep three players. Fields, basically, needs more time to learn and develop consistency. "(Fields) shows some flashes," Nolan said. "Flashes are just a start, but he's going to be OK in time, even though the NFL is a whole different game than from where he came from." Status: Niners will find way to keep him on 53-man roster. WR/KR Rasheed Marshall (5, 174): When Marshall is good, he looks very good, and when he's bad, he looks every bit like a star college quarterback attempting to make the difficult transitions to NFL wide receiver and kick returner. The Niners drafted this guy as an athlete, and he certainly has lived up to his billing in that regard. He can do things with the football in his hands, but that's the problem – getting the ball into his hands. Marshall has yet to develop any consistency catching passes, and his problems fielding punts seem to have cooled the team's once-hot interest in giving him a shot as the main return man. Status: May have to step it up in preseason to secure roster berth. CB Derrick Johnson (6, 205): Has shown good technique and development in coverage and clearly has pushed himself among San Francisco's top six corners. The question is where he fits in that hierarchy, because it's unlikely the 49ers can keep more than five. It looks as though he might be battling fellow draftee Daven Holly for that fifth spot, unless the 49ers decide to unload a veteran because the youngsters have more upside.Status On roster bubble. CB Daven Holly (7, 215): Has been impressive with his high-end speed, quickness and ability to change direction out of breaks. Technique might still be a little raw, but he's not so much the project some might have thought when he was drafted. In fact, he has been a playmaker in camp and one of the team's top rookie defenders, showing an ability to get to the ball quickly and deliver a pop once he gets there. He clearly is outplaying the team's other young corners. Status: Will earn roster berth with solid preseason. WR Marcus Maxwell (7, 223): Maxwell could make a few more-heralded veterans very unhappy once September comes around – when he takes their job. Big and fast, Maxwell has shown exceptional flashes in camp, cutting the turf with good routes and catching the ball consistently. He also has shown an ability to leap in the air and dive to the ground to make the difficult, sometimes sensational, catch. So far, Maxwell has been one of the true finds of 49ers training camp. The team will wait to see what he does in exhibition games before it gets too excited, but he has a shot at the 53-man roster. The numbers game might be the only thing that holds him back. Status: Practice squad lock, if not better. OL Patrick Estes (7, 248): So much for getting time to develop and make the difficult transition from college tight end to NFL offensive tackle. Because of the rash of injuries along the line, Estes is practicing as the starting left tackle and could play his first professional game as the starter there in Saturday's preseason opener against the Oakland Raiders. He has displayed the footwork and athleticism to play the position, but must get better at learning the tricks of the top pass rushers at this level. Must continue to build his upper body, but he has not been overwhelmed one bit by the challenge and has displayed solid potential. Status: Will make roster as it is currently configured. TE Billy Bajema (7, 249): Brings good size and a physical blocking nature to the position, something the 49ers were looking for when they drafted him. Bajema also was showing a nice ability to slip underneath coverages and snag passes, but he had a poor scrimmage Saturday that seemed to set him back. He must show that he can catch the routine passes consistently, because he fills the bill in other aspects at the position. He could be battling holdover Aaron Walker for a roster berth, and that will come down to who does best in the preseason games. Status: On roster bubble.
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