With plenty of depth in the front-seven, 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio has zeroed in on finding suitable backups for safeties Dashon Goldon and Donte Whitner.

Through two preseason games, it's not obvious who the coaching staff is leaning toward keeping.

"We’d like to see somebody step forward and make the decisions easy for us," Fangio said. "We know we’ve got Whitner and Goldson, but we’re looking to see who our third, fourth and possibly fifth safety and we need for that to clear itself up. 

The candidates include veteran C.J. Spillman, free agent pickup Darcel McBath, sixth-round pick Trenton Robinson, undrafted rookie Michael Thomas and special teams ace Colin Jones.

"Hopefully guys will step forward and make it easy," Fangio said. "Right now, it hasn’t been an easy decision for us there."

Spillman has  been with the team for three seasons, but played just 16 snaps on defense. Jones is in a similar position -- a special teams standout, who didn't play a snap of defense last year. 
McBath has the most experience in the group with extended playing time in the secondary for Jacksonville in 2009 and 2010, while Robinson and Thomas both are adjusting well to the NFL.

OLBs Brooks, Smith getting healthier: Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks practiced Tuesday and appear on track to be healthy for the regular-season opener at Green Bay on Sept. 9. 

"We’ll see. I think he’ll get markedly better as we move forward," Fangio said of Smith. "I just don’t know how it’ll be for this week.”

On Brooks, Fangio said: "He's further along (than Smith)."

Smith left the team's first preseason game with a bruised hip and Brooks was sidelined for the second preseason game with an undisclosed injury. 

Cam Johnson's roster hopes slipping away: Seventh-round pick OLB Cam Johnson needs to get healthy soon if he wants to stick with the 49ers. He missed the team's preseason game at Houston and has been sidelined for several practices. Originally a candidate to be the team's fourth OLB, that job is now seemingly earmarked for Eric Bakhtiari.

“He’s got to get healthy first," Fangio when asked if Johnson is a roster candidate. "I don’t know when it’s projected that he’ll be back on the field. The answer today is no. But when he gets healthy, the answer may change.”

LaMichael James returns to practice: RB LaMichael James practiced Tuesday for the first time since an apparent ankle injury in the team's preseason game at Houston on Saturday. After the game, James said he thought he would be able to practice by Monday -- he missed by one day.

Cuts coming: NFL rules mandate rosters must be cut to a maximum of 75 (from 90) by Monday.
Follow 49ers reporter Kyle Bonagura on Twitter: @CBSSportsNFLSF and @KyleBonagura.

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