There are only a few roster spots up for grabs as the 49ers whittle their roster down to 53 players. The team will finish the preseason Thursday at home against the Chargers and then decide which players to keep on Friday by 9 p.m. ET.
Stock rising: RB Anthony Dixon. For months, the assumption has been that Dixon was on his way out the door. This week, in separate radio interviews, GM Trent Baalke and offensive coordinator Greg Roman made comments that can easily be interpreted as meaning Dixon has a roster spot locked up.
Stock falling: Rock Cartwright. As Dixon's stock rises, someone else's has to drop, and Cartwright appears to be that guy. Both RBs contribute on every special teams unit, but Dixon can also play fullback and has improved his game across the board.
QB -- In: (3) Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Scott Tolzien. Out: Josh Johnson. Analysis: It's still a coin flip for the No. 3 job and, despite being listed at No. 4 on the official depth chart, Scott Tolzien makes more sense to keep. He provides more of a traditional look for scout-team purposes and has outplayed Johnson throughout the preseason. Their play Thursday in the final preseason game against San Diego could serve as a tiebreaker.
RB -- In: (5) Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, LaMichael James, Dixon. Out: Cartwright. Analysis: Cartwright came to San Francisco for special teams purposes, but over the last week, Dixon appears to be in the coaching staff's good graces. Offensive coordinator Greg Roman said he expects Dixon to have his most productive year as a 49er and Cartwright's once seemingly guaranteed roster spot may now belong to Dixon.
FB -- In (1) Bruce Miller. Analysis: In his second year at the position, Miller is a prototypical fullback and could develop into one of the best in the league. Dixon will also factor in here now that he's playing both fullback and running back.
WR -- In: (6) Randy Moss, Michael Crabtree, Mario Manningham, Ted Ginn Jr., Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins. Out: Brett Swain, Nathan Palmer, Chris Owusu. Analysis: It's clear who the top six receivers are. What's not clear is who remains on the practice squad -- both Palmer and Owusu are strong candidates. First-round pick A.J. Jenkins is assured to be with the team, but it'll be tough for him to crack the 46-man game-day roster due to the depth in front of him.
TE -- In: (3) Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker, Konrad Reuland. Out: Kyle Nelson. Analysis: Reuland could be the beneficiary of the lower-leg injury that currently has DL/TE Demarcus Dobbs sidelined. If Dobbs was healthy, it would have been easier to justify waiving Reuland because the team could still go to three-TE sets. Without him, the team would lose some of its playbook, and that doesn't seem likely.
OL -- In: (9) Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Leonard Davis, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney, Mike Person. Out: Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter, Derek Hall. Analysis: With sixth-round pick Jason Slowey and Chase Beeler out of the picture, Daniel Kilgore is the only option at backup center. Gs Looney and Davis seem like locks, which leaves Person as a backup OT.
DL -- In (7): Ray McDonald, Isaac Sopoaga, Justin Smith, Ricky Jean Francois, Ian Williams, Will Tukuafu, Demarcus Dobbs. Out: Tony Jerod-Eddie, Matt Masifilo. Analysis: Williams could be a bubble guy, but Tukuafu and Dobbs appear in good shape thanks to their versatility.
LB -- In (7): Ahmad Brooks, NaVorro Bowman, Patrick Willis, Aldon Smith, Parys Haralson, Larry Grant, Tavares Gooden. Out: Joe Holland, Cam Johnson, Michael Wilhoite, Kenny Rowe, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Eric Bakhtiari. Analysis: After the second preseason game, Bakhtiari was inching closer to a 53-man spot, but then came a concussion Sunday at Denver. He wore a non-contact jersey in practice this week and the concussion could be enough to convince the team to go with three OLBs, like it did last year.
DB -- In: (9) Carlos Rogers, Tarell Brown, Dashon Goldson, Donte Whitner, Chris Culliver, Perrish Cox, Trenton Robinson, C.J. Spillman, Colin Jones. Out: Tramaine Brock, Darcel McBath, Anthony Mosley, Michael Thomas. Analysis: Jones is the wildcard. He's listed at safety, but his only value to the team would be on special teams. Brock is still a viable 53-man candidate, but his play on defense has hurt his cause during the preseason.
Specialists -- In: (3) K David Akers, P Andy Lee, LS Brian Jennings. Analysis: The best trio of specialists in the league?
Follow 49ers reporter Kyle Bonagura on Twitter: @CBSSportsNFLSF and @KyleBonagura
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