OXNARD, Calif. – There wasn't any practice to watch on Wednesday, but the time off gave me some time to think.
We're nearing the end of our time in California, and it's time to start thinking about how this roster is going to stack up. Once Sunday's game in San Francisco is over, we can take a real look at what to expect when September rolls around.
Here are 12 thoughts about the 49ers game and the final roster cuts:
1.Hopeful that we will get to see Darren McFadden play against the 49ers on Sunday. Coaches are starting to work him in more during the practices on a full-time basis. His early work has been good.
2. Having the mental debate on which defensive end has been better in camp thus far: DeMarcus Lawrence or Randy Gregory? I have not been surprised by what I have seen from Lawrence, but it appears that the learning curve for Gregory is very small .
3. At this point I am going with nine defensive backs on this 53-man roster. Normally I would keep 10, but I have a feeling that I am going to need that spot in another area. The fact that Byron Jones and Corey White can help me at safety allows me to think this way.
4. There is no question that this is the best camp that Gavin Escobar has had since he joined the club. I would chalk this up to the development of more physical toughness in his game.
5. There is a side of me that wants to just keep two quarterbacks, but the question I have is: am I willing to gamble on Dustin Vaughan as that second guy? At this particular moment -- and this could change -- I don't see that as a solid option.
6. I keep seeing Geoff Swaim catching passes, but I have yet to see him as an effective blocker. If he is going to be on my final 53 -- he had better find a way to do both.
7. A name you haven't heard in this camp is rookie linebacker Mark Nzeocha. Been watching him work on the side, and it appears that he is closer to joining the fight. What I liked about his tape at Wyoming was that he had the size and length to line up at the strong side and be a solid point-of-attack player. He was drafted to this defense with a purpose in mind.
8. There have been times where Ben Gardner has been good during practice and others where you have to question his spot on the 53. I liked what I saw from his two days of work against the Rams, and hopefully this will lead to more consistency the remainder of this camp. He was winning more one-on-one battles and showing up in much better position around the ball. Still a ways to go but it was in the right direction.
9. I have to give Marc Colombo the credit for working with Laurence Gibson to the point where the rookie no longer struggles every single snap that he takes. There are still times where Gibson is not perfect, but he is starting to win more battles. Gibson has shown a willingness to work, but more importantly, he is applying what Colombo is teaching him in which the results have improved.
10. Stephen Jones hinted that if they need to make a roster move or two that it would most likely come from the running back position. With the top three guys all back at practice, that group is a little heavy. We will likely see an adjustment after the 49ers game, when they can work a player or two out on Monday to help with practice.
11. Nice job once again by the Cowboys Pro Department in grabbing receiver David Porter off the street. These scouts continue to draw water when the well appears to be dry. Not an easy job.
12. I have to admire the grit and toughness that cornerbacks Robert Steeples and Joel Ross have shown. Due to the condition of this secondary -- especially at corner -- these kids have taken the majority of the snaps in practice and have given everything they've got. It hasn't mattered who they have had to cover, both have stepped up and done their jobs without complaint, which is a credit to them both.