Three and Out: Competition at WR, TE; key players on reserve
Marcus Lattimore will open on the reserve/NFI list, and the 49ers plan for him to sit out this season and come back strong in 2014. (AP)
The 49ers are keeping the door open on Eric Wright to allow him an opportunity to show whether he can help the 49ers later this season. (AP)
Chris Culliver will not be eligible to play this season unless the 49ers use their one "designated to return" option on him. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
The 49ers will be able to continue to hold the rights to more than 60 players when it's time to make their "final cuts" after the last two exhibition games.
The 49ers are likely to still have 64 players under contract even after every NFL team is required to cut to their 53-man roster limits on Aug. 31.
Two of the more notable players are wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham. Both players will open the season on the reserve physically-unable-to-perform list, according to coach Jim Harbaugh.
Players who begin the season on PUP or non-football injury will be ineligible for the first six weeks of the regular season.
Beginning after the sixth week (Oct. 15) and continuing through the conclusion of the 11th weekend of regular season games (Nov. 18), clubs are permitted to begin practicing players off their PUP and NFI lists for no more than 21 days. At any time during the 21-day practice period clubs may activate the player.
In addition to the 53 players the 49ers select to open the season, here is the list of players the 49ers can keep in reserve:
CB Eric Wright: The 49ers signed Wright, a talented six-year veteran, on Aug. 8. The 49ers placed Wright on the active non-football injury/illness list. Upon the signing, 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said, "Eric is currently tending to a personal matter and he will join the team as soon as possible."
Coach Jim Harbaugh, apparently referring the off-the-field matter, said, "We're looking forward to Eric getting back to being the player that he thinks he can be and we think he can be. That would be a great story for him to be able to do that. It would be great for us if he can get there. We'll work with him."
The 49ers originally acquired Wright in a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on July 19 that occurred one week after he was arrested in Los Angeles on a DUI charge. That trade was voided three days later when he failed a 49ers physical.
It was no coincidence the 49ers signed Wright on Aug. 8. That was the day the 49ers opened their exhibition season, and it was the final day the 49ers could sign a player and place him on an injury/illness list.
Wright is a player the 49ers have liked for a while. The 49ers were interested in the San Francisco native during free agency of 2012 before he signed with the Buccaneers, who released him after one season. He signed a one-year, $715,001 contract with the 49ers.
The 49ers are keeping the door open on Wright this season to allow him an opportunity to show whether he can help the 49ers later this season after he joins the team.
CB Chris Culliver: He sustained torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Aug. 1. Culliver will be placed on injured reserve as the 49ers cut to 53 players. He will not be eligible to play this season unless the 49ers use their one "designated to return" option on him.
WR Mario Manningham: Manningham sustained tears to his ACL and posterior-cruciate ligaments Dec. 23 against the Seattle Seahawks. He underwent surgery to repair the damage a month later after the swelling went down. Manningham agreed to a pay cut of $2.1 million in the offseason to remain with the club.
[RELATED: Manningham to open season on PUP list]
"It's going very well," Harbaugh said of Manningham's rehab. "Been great feedback on Mario. He's really feeling now he can put his leg in the ground and generate some power. It's exciting and he's excited about it."
WR Michael Crabtree: He sustained a complete rupture of his right Achilles tendon in a May 21 workout. He underwent surgery the following day. Harbaugh has said team doctors have expressed the belief Crabtree could be available late in the season. A six-month time frame would have him available in late-November. Recently, the 49ers activated running back Kendall Hunter 8 1/2 months after he sustained what he said was a partial Achilles tear.
DL Tank Carradine: The second-round draft pick sustained a torn ACL in his right knee on Nov. 24. The 49ers made the No. 40 overall selection of Carradine (shown, below right No. 95) amid a pre-draft USA Today report that some teams believed Carradine had serious problems with his knee.
Said Carradine on the day he was drafted, "There's nothing wrong with my knee, and there are no long-term things that I think will go wrong with my knee because I'm healthy. I did tear my ACL, but at my pro day I was able to run at full speed. If a guy wasn't healthy, he probably wouldn't have been able to run as fast as I ran or go out there and do those cutting drills."
Defensive coordinator coordinator Vic Fangio said Carradine's progress is consistent with what he was told at the time he was drafted.
DL Quinton Dial: The fifth-round selection underwent surgery in January to repair torn cartilage and ligament damage in his toe. The 49ers are taking a cautious approach with Dial (shown, below right No. 71), too. When asked last week if Carradine and Dial would open the season on the NFI list, Fangio answered, "It's a real possibility, but I don't think that's been decided, yet."
The advantage of opening the season with Carradine and Dial on the NFI list is both can be eased back with three full weeks of practices before a roster decision must be made.
RB Marcus Lattimore: When the 49ers selected Lattimore in the fourth round of the draft, the intention all along was to make sure the former South Carolina star took his time with his rehabilitation. In an Oct. 27 game against Tennessee, Lattimore sustained a dislocated right knee and tears to three of the four ligaments: the ACL, posterior cruciate and lateral collateral.
Lattimore will open on the reserve/NFI list, and the 49ers plan for him to sit out this season and come back strong in 2014.
OT Luke Marquardt: A 6 foot 8, 315 pound undrafted rookie, Marquardt still appears to be some time away from getting on the field for the first time with the 49ers. He sustained a broken right foot that forced him to miss his senior season at Azusa Pacific. He underwent surgery on the same foot after his pro day.
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The above eight players, plus the three players already placed on injured reserve (linebacker Darius Fleming, fullback Alex Debniak and wide receiver Brandon Carswell) are scheduled to account for $13.15 million in salary-cap space at the beginning of the season. Fleming, Debniak and Carswell have each cleared waivers and do not count against the 49ers' current 90-player limit.
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