San Francisco 49ers quarteback Alex Smith (left) and head coach Jim Harbaugh (right) (PHOTO: US PRESSWIRE)
Unlike last year, the 49ers didn't need the waiver wire to fill out their team. Instead, it was other teams that claimed players off their team once the 49ers made their final cuts. Tight end Konrad Reuland (Jets) and tackle Mike Person (Colts) claimed.
It speaks to the depth of the team. The 49ers also filled out their eight-man practice squad with their own players from training camp, another nod to the team's depth. Additionally, the 49ers wound up releasing two of their own draft picks, sixth-round guard Jason Slowey and seventh-round pick Cam Johnson in another sign that their roster is stacked.
Even with their cuts, the 49ers were able to retain their talented contingent of running backs and wide receivers. They kept six of each, and most of them are expected to be active on game day. At wide receiver, the team depth chart lists four starters in Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham and Ted Ginn Jr. even though the 49ers rarely use four wideouts at one time.
It means that all four will likely be used liberally on game day depending on the defensive matchup. Crabtree is the only one who will be a starter from week to week.
However, because of the bulges at wide receiver and running back, the 49ers had to go thin elsewhere and they chose the offensive line and outside linebacker. The team only has three backups on the line and no tackles with the release of Person.
It means if a tackle gets hurt, the 49ers would have to move right guard Alex Boone out to tackle and then replace him with one of the backup guards, likely veteran Leonard Davis. If one of the tackles was injured it would mean the line would have to make two adjustments instead of just one.
At outside linebacker, the 49ers carried only three players all of last year. This season, they retain the same three with Parys Haralson, Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks. The only difference is Smith replaces Haralson as the starter on the right side of the defense.
But all three players sustained injuries in the preseason, with the most serious being the hip bruise to Smith that kept him out of the final three preseason games. Brooks and Haralson were sidelined with minor leg injuries that only caused them to miss practice.
The mild surprise to make the team was the lone rookie free agent - tight end Garrett Celek, the younger brother of Eagles tight end Brent Celek. The 49ers' Celek will serve as the third option behind starter Vernon Davis and backup Delanie Walker.
In a small upset, Anthony Dixon beat out veteran Rock Cartwright at running back. Dixon did it by taking on fullback responsibilities all on his own and proving his special teams acumen. Cartwright was signed mainly as a special teams player and an emergency option at running back.
While the 215-pound Cartwright has played fullback, Dixon at 235 pounds is a better option. Dixon also cut down on his mental errors in the final two preseason games to make his mark.