NFC West: Mark Bradford

Practice-squad report: 49ers

August, 21, 2009
8/21/09
11:29
AM ET
49ers eligible for
practice squad
Pos. Perceived Status
Terrail Lambert
DB
Likely cut
Reggie Smith
DB
Keeper
Curtis Taylor
DB
Likely cut
Carlos Thomas
DB
Likely cut
Jahi Word-Daniels
DB
Likely cut
Pannel Egboh
DL
Likely cut
Ricky Jean-Francois
DL
Bubble
Khalif Mitchell
DL
Bubble
Diyral Briggs
LB
Likely cut
Scott McKillop
LB
Keeper
Jay Moore
LB
Bubble
Justin Roland
LB
Likely cut
Mark Washington
LB
Likely cut
Brit Miller
FB
Bubble
Matt Spanos
OL
Likely cut
Cody Wallace
OL
Keeper
Jacob Bender
OL
Likely cut
Kyle Howard
OL
Likely cut
Alex Boone
OL
Bubble
Joe Toledo
OL
Likely cut
Nate Davis
QB
Bubble
Glen Coffee
RB
Keeper
Bill Rentmeester
RB
Bubble
Kory Sheets
RB
Likely cut
Alex Romero
ST
Likely cut
J.J. Finley
TE
Likely cut
Bear Pascoe
TE
Keeper
Mark Bradford
WR
Likely cut
Dobson Collins
WR
Likely cut
Maurice Price
WR
Likely cut
Dominique Zeigler
WR
Bubble

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The quarterback race between Shaun Hill and Alex Smith commands much 49ers-related attention.

The race for the No. 3 job behind them deserves some attention. Veteran Damon Huard has a 15-12 record as an NFL starter. He provides value as an experienced backup. The team also wants to develop fifth-round rookie quarterback Nate Davis.

What to do?

Davis is a project. He will not help the 49ers this season. The question becomes whether another team would sign him to its 53-man roster if the 49ers waived Davis and tried to sign him to their practice squad.

As noted, NFL teams selected 19 quarterbacks in the fifth round from the 2000 through 2008 drafts. Eighteen earned opening-day spots on 53-man rosters as rookies. The Steelers' Omar Jacobs was an exception in 2006, the year Ben Roethlisberger opened on the bench following a motorcycle accident.

The factors that pushed down Davis in the draft -- notably a learning disability that the 49ers see as overstated -- still exist. If teams fear Davis might struggle to learn their system -- and for the sake of this discussion, it doesn't matter if such fears are justified -- the 49ers might have an easier time getting
Davis onto their practice squad.

What would you do?

The chart shows all 31 current 49ers players with eligibility, arranged by position. I left first-round choice Michael Crabtree off the chart because he has not signed with the team.

NFL teams must reduce rosters from 80 to 75 players Sept. 1. They must reduce to 53 players Sept. 5. They can begin forming eight-man practice squads Sept. 6 at noon ET.

As the NFL puts it:

After 12 noon, New York time, clubs may establish a practice squad of eight players by signing free agents who do not have an accrued season of free-agency credit or who were on the 45-player active list for less than nine regular-season games during their only accrued season(s). A player cannot participate on the practice squad for more than three seasons.

The 49ers also face dilemmas at other positions, including what to do at receiver while Crabtree and Brandon Jones are not available, but that third quarterback race stands out.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The 49ers' roster appears most interesting at running back and receiver.

The more I think about how much the 49ers want to pound the ball on offense, the more I see them keeping two fullbacks on the Week 1 roster.

Zak Keasey's broken forearm prevents him from becoming part of the equation early, and it's tough to see a team waiting two months for a backup fullback to get healthy. Enter Bill Rentmeester. Formerly of the Chargers, Rentmeester offers what preseason touchdown machine Brit Miller does not: experience at fullback. For the sake of this roster exercise, I'll pencil in Rentmeester for Week 1.

The numbers at receiver figure to swell while the team waits for Brandon Jones to heal and Michael Crabtree to sign and get ready to contribute.

San Francisco 49ers Week 1 Roster Counts since 2003 QB RB WR TE OL DL LB DB ST
Fewest 3 4 5 2 8 5 6 7 2
Most 4 7 7 4 10 9 8 11 4
Average 3.2 5.2 5.8 3.2 8.8 7.2 7.3 9.3 3.0
Currently on roster
4
8 12 4 14 9 12 14 4

The chart provides a framework for how many players the 49ers might keep at each position heading into the regular-season opener against the Cardinals.

Here's a quick look at which 49ers players I might keep on the cutdown to 53 players (I made one change, moving Cody Wallace into the group of offensive linemen at Joe Toledo's expense):

(Read full post)

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com recaps Steve Spagnuolo's emotionally draining day, which included attending Jim Johnson's funeral. Spagnuolo: "It was very soothing for me to see all of the people that showed up. I can't tell you the overwhelming display of love for Jim Johnson in Philadelphia today. There were more people coming back there that hadn't been there in a long time. It was one of those days where everybody gets together and you mourn a friend and a family member."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch wasn't surprised when Rams tackle Alex Barron opened the scrimmage with a false-start penalty. Thomas: "First-round draft pick Jason Smith is still having trouble blocking Leonard Little on the pass rush. But working with the starting offense, Smith made a nice block on what would've been a touchdown by Steven Jackson."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Leonard Little, Chris Long and James Hill consistently got pressure during 2-minute drill.

Also from Korte: a refresher on NFL rules changes as officials visit Rams camp.

Turf Show Times' Hetfield72 files a detailed report from the Rams' scrimmage. He thought the interior offensive line appeared strong.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News says Brandon Jones' injury and Michael Crabtree's absence opens the door for 49ers receiver Dominique Zeigler. Teams tend to need their depth at receiver as injuries prevail throughout the course of camp. 

49ers guard David Baas blogs about his foot injury. Baas: "It's just a minor setback and it won't take that long. I've been through this before so I always come out ahead in the end. It's no big deal and I've been going to all of the meetings and so I'm still around my teammates."

John Crumpacker of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers practiced in shorts for the first time since camp opened. Also, coach Mike Singletary says he "hates" to see Jones injured after a strong start to camp.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee charted receiver snaps during 11-on-11 drills to see which ones were getting the most reps without Jones or Crabtree. The results: Josh Morgan 15, Arnaz Battle 14, Michael Spurlock 14, Jason Hill 12, Dominique Zeigler 10, Maurice Price 3, Mark Bradford 3 and Dobson Collins 2. Isaac Bruce had the afternoon off.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com sizes up the most exciting part of any training camp practice, at least to me: one-on-one pass-rush rills. The accompanying photo of Bryan Robinson apparently attempting to decapitate Lyle Sendlein says it all. Also, injured fullback Dan Kreider returned to practice.

Revenge of the Birds' Andrew 602 predicts a fast start for the Cardinals despite a projected home loss against the Colts early in the season. 

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers added a 3-second clock to help quarterbacks get a feel for when the ball should be thrown. Maiocco: "Neither quarterback is separating himself in the QB competition. Hill was much better in the morning session, and Smith won the afternoon. Smith completed 12 of 15 passes in the recently completed practice. Hill was 7 of 11 with an interception by Parys Haralson off a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage."

Also from Maiocco: an assessment of the situation at receiver. Maiocco: "Jones and Crabtree represent the 49ers' biggest offseason investments. And now there are legitimate concerns about when either will be available to make contributions."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says he thinks the Cardinals are deeper on the offensive line than any team Ken Whisenhunt and Russ Grimm have coached since 2001, according to Whisenhunt. Somers lists five backups Whisenhunt likes. Teams generally keep no more than four backup offensive linemen, however.

Also from Somers: Beanie Wells did some light running Friday. He could be back from a sprained ankle early next week.

More from Somers: High winds in Flagstaff prompted Whisenhunt to hold for kicker Neil Rackers.

More still from Somers: Kurt Warner revisits a theme he touches upon from time to time, assessing how the pressure to succeed can become draining.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says basketball great Bill Russell addressed the team at Jim Mora's request. Russell was sitting in the lobby at Seahawks headquarters when I left following practice Thursday night. He looked good.

Chris Sullivan of Seahawk Addicts provides an in-depth report from the Seahawks' practice Friday night. Sullivan: "Ben Obamanu is doing a fantastic job of reminding everyone why he was the favorite to get real playing time in 2008 before he broke his shoulder. He looks very good in every aspect of the game. Great hands, good feet, a decent block or two, and crisp routes."

John Boyle of the Everett Herald says Deion Branch was back at practice for the Seahawks on Friday night, but T.J. Houshmandzadeh scored the most points -- thanks to an extended autograph session with fans.

Tim Booth of the Associated Press says a few thousand people sat through rainy conditions to watch the Seahawks practice at
Husky Stadium. Houshmandzadeh made an impression on Huskies defensive back Quinton Richardson.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times visits with Seahawks rookie Nick Reed as part of an overview from camp. Reed says he's a fan of "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid."

Dave Boling of the Tacoma News Tribune says injuries raise concerns for the Seahawks, again. Boling: "The vision of a sore-backed Walter Jones walking gingerly onto the field, and the absence of Marcus Trufant and top draft pick Aaron Curry, added to sundry infirmities and potential manpower shortages, are enough to give pause to even those watching through the rosiest of glasses."

WR Count
ARI SF STL SEA
Current
11 11 12 11
2008 Opener
6 5 6 6
2007 Opener
6 6 6 6
2006 Opener
5 5 5 4
2005 Opener
7 7 5 7
2004 Opener
6 6 6 5
2003 Opener
6 6 5 4

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

The Seahawks and 49ers appear dramatically improved at receiver this season. The Cardinals might also improve at the position if 2008 third-round choice Early Doucet emerges following an injury-affected rookie season.

Uncertainty at the position in St. Louis could lead the Rams to keep an eye on the NFC West discard pile when roster limits tighten.

The chart shows how many receivers each NFC West team has carried for its past six regular-season openers. The top row shows current counts. A look at how they stack up:

Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston, Early Doucet and Jerheme Urban are back. Sean Morey, listed as a receiver, has been a Pro Bowl player on special teams. Lance Long is reportedly looking good again this offseason. Also: Shane Morales, Justin Brown, Ed Gant and Onrea Jones.

San Francisco: Isaac Bruce, Michael Crabtree, Josh Morgan, Brandon Jones, Jason Hill and probably Arnaz Battle stick around. Dominique Zeigler isn't a significant contributor on special teams, hurting his chances if the others stay healthy. Also: Maurice Price, Mark Bradford, and Dobson Collins. Note: I have listed Michael Spurlock as a kick returner. That's why his name didn't show up on this list initially. I changed the 49ers' count to 11 given that Morey is counting at the position for Arizona. Thanks to redng0ld for pointing it out.

St. Louis: Donnie Avery, Keenan Burton, Laurent Robinson and Tim Carter comprise the likely top four based on what we know so far. Derek Stanley is recovering from knee surgery. Brooks Foster is a rookie fifth-round choice. Also: Travis Brown, Nate Jones, Horace Gant, Chad Lucas, Sean Walker and Jarrett Byers.

Seattle: T.J. Houshmandzadeh, Deion Branch, Nate Burleson and Deon Butler comprise the likely top four. Courtney Taylor and Ben Obomanu could be favorites for the final two spots if Seattle keeps six. Also: Billy McMullen, Michael Bumpus, Mike Hass, Logan Payne and Jordan Kent.

Five Oldest Active NFL Receivers Team Age 2008 Receptions
Joey Galloway
Patriots 37 13
Isaac Bruce
49ers 36 61
Bobby Engram
Chiefs 36 47
Muhsin Muhammad
Panthers 35 65
Terrell Owens
Bills 35 6

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Isaac Bruce is coming back to the 49ers. He was never going to leave, necessarily, but he was thinking about it.

The 49ers are better with Bruce, no question. Their current receivers now include: Bruce, Josh Morgan, Brandon Jones, Jason Hill, Arnaz Battle, Dominique Zeigler and Mark Bradford.

Bruce is the only 49ers receiver in his 30s. Battle is next at 29. The others are between 23 and 26. This is a mostly young group, in other words.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

A quick look at 53-man rosters from Feb. 1, date of Super Bowl XLIII, provides a reference point for seeing how NFC West teams have changed so far this offseason.

I'll start with San Francisco.

Gone from the 49ers' 53-man roster and injured reserve list in the 58 days since the Super Bowl (13):

 
  Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
  J.T. O'Sullivan is a former 49er.

Offense

Jamie Martin, QB

J.T. O'Sullivan, QB

Billy Bajema, TE

DeShaun Foster, RB

Sean Ryan, TE

Bryant Johnson, WR

Jonas Jennings, T

Damane Duckett, T

Defense

Keith Lewis, S

Donald Strickland, CB

Roderick Green, LB

Ronald Fields, DL

Tully Banta-Cain, LB

(Read full post)

Roided-out NFC West rosters: Week 20.5

January, 24, 2009
1/24/09
10:58
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

I've updated the NFC West roided-out rosters to include moves made this week. Those are available for download.

I'll tack on a Steelers version in the next edition, scheduled for Super Bowl week. In the meantime, let's take a quick look at players NFC West teams have signed to future contracts. These players will become part of the 80-man rosters after the Super Bowl.
Arizona: punter Waylon Prather, quarterback Tyler Palko, running back Justin Green, guard Ben Claxton.

St. Louis: receiver Nate Jones, defensive tackle Willie Williams, receiver Joel Filani, receiver Travis Brown, running back Samkon Gado, defensive end C.J. Ah You.

San Francisco: tight end J.J. Finley, tackle Joe Toledo, receiver Mark Bradford, linebacker Justin Roland and kick returner Michael Spurlock.

Seattle: defensive back Marquis FLoyd, tight end Joe Newton, receiver Michael Bumpus, defensive tackle Kevin Brown, tight end John Tereshinski, long snapper Ryan Senser, receiver Mike Hass and Receiver Billy McMullen.

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