The end of the preseason is a precarious time for a prospective NFL player to find himself hurt.
On Tuesday, August 31, the San Francisco 49ers will cut their team roster to 53 players. Fringe roster men and those in the running for the 16-man practice squad have a lot to lose over the next 24 hours. Unfortunately for journeyman Shon Coleman, it appears he has already lost it.
The journeyman tackle had designs on earning what might have been the Niners final roster spot along the offensive line, assuming the team decided to suit up nine O-linemen instead of eight this regular season. It was not Coleman’s play that cost him his chance to be one of the Niners’ initial 53, though there was no guarantee the slot would have been his, if it ends up existing at all.
Instead, an injury Coleman suffered to his tricep Sunday during San Francisco’s final preseason game against the Los Angeles Raiders made the Niners’ decision for them.
“Shon Coleman’s triceps strain kills any chance of him making Tuesday’s initial 53-man roster, as (head coach Kyle) Shanahan said he’ll ‘be out a while,'” David Lombardi, Niners reporter for The Athletic, tweeted on Monday, August 30.
“If the 49ers do decide to carry 9 offensive linemen, backup center Jake Brendel will almost certainly be the ninth,” Lombardi’s tweet continued.
Coleman’s Injured Tricep Keeps Him Off Initial, Not Final, Roster
The Cleveland Browns drafted the 6-foot, 5-inch, 310-pound Coleman out of Auburn in 2016. He played two seasons with the Cleveland Browns, appearing in 7 games during his rookie season and starting all 16 games for the team in 2017, according to Pro Football Reference.
That was the last time the now 29-year-old lineman appeared in an NFL regular season game. Coleman navigated multiple San Francisco roster cuts leading up to Tuesday’s decisions, which will determine the Niners’ initial 53-man roster heading into Week 1.
It is important to note that the moves the Niners make will not determine the final roster, just the initial roster, as the difference in verbiage carries significant weight when it comes to contracts, guaranteed money and when the audition line for a spot on the team or the practice squad actually comes to an end.
Coleman’s Injury Could Prove Costly to the Veteran Lineman
The money Coleman is now likely to miss out on is significant. Lombardi explained the circumstances via Twitter on Monday in a separate tweet.
“Perhaps the most significant 53-man/practice squad delineation, since it’s easier than ever to call up players, is the money,” Lombardi wrote.
The 53-man minimum rookie salary is $660,000, while the minimum practice squad rookie salary is $156,000.
The 53-man minimum veteran salary is $1.075 million, while the minimum salary for a veteran on the practice squad is $252,000. Those totals go up based on years of experience in the NFL.
“A lot of $$ on the line for bubble guys,” Lombardi’s tweet continued.
Unfortunately for Coleman, that is cash he will almost certainly be missing out on, as the injury will keep him sidelined for a considerable amount of time.
It does not make sense for the Niners to hold onto Coleman, as he was a fringe prospect to make the roster or the practice squad to begin with.
Keeping the rights to a player by placing him on injured reserve (IR) is typically a move held for players more sure to make a contribution to the team during the regular season, postseason or in future seasons when they are able to return. A good example of a player headed to IR rather than the cut line is Mychal Kendricks, a veteran linebacker and special teams player the Niners’ recently signed to a one-year deal before he hyperextended his big toe earlier this preseason.
The Niners will cut more than 25 players Tuesday to make the initial 53-man roster line required by the NFL before the month of August is out. There will likely be several players who receive their pink slips in the next 24 hours due to circumstances similar to those facing Coleman — a shot at a nice paycheck, and potentially a long-term job in the NFL, squandered by a late preseason injury.
They will, however, have opportunities to get on with the Niners, or other franchises, as the regular season progresses and the massive amount of injuries common to NFL regular seasons begin to take their toll.