NFC West: Nathan Palmer

49ers at 53: Roster with practice squad

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
4:38
PM ET
The San Francisco 49ers announced their initial eight-man practice squad Saturday.

That provides a chance for me to pass along an updated version of the 49ers' roster for download. This Excel file features 27 columns for every 49ers player, plus those no longer on the roster (dating to roughly 2007, when I started maintaining theses for each team).

The chart shows positional counts for the 49ers' active roster and practice squad.

San Francisco signed to its practice squad two linebackers (Cam Johnson, Michael Wilhoite), two offensive linemen (Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter) and two defensive linemen (Matthew Masifilo, Tony Jerod-Eddie). The 49ers also signed receiver Nathan Palmer and safety Michael Thomas.

Johnson provides practice depth at outside linebacker. Wilhoite was one of the NFC West's more impressive young inside linebackers during preseason. Thomas was a player 49ers veteran safety Donte Whitner singled out as likely to stick on the practice squad, with a chance to develop into a regular-season contributor.

The New York Jets claimed tight end Konrad Reuland off waivers. The Indianapolis Colts claimed offensive lineman Mike Person.

2012 NFC West practice squad eligibility

September, 1, 2012
9/01/12
12:33
PM ET
NFL teams can begin forming practice squads once eligible players clear waivers Saturday.

A look at which players released by NFC West teams have eligibility:

Arizona Cardinals

Eligible: Crezdon Butler, Antonio Coleman, Blake Gideon, Ricky Lumpkin, Colin Parker, Larry Parker, Steve Skelton, Quan Sturdivant, Everrette Thompson, Martell Webb, Scott Wedige, Brandon Williams, Isaiah Williams, D.J. Williams.

Not eligible: DeMarco Sampson, Alfonso Smith, Ronald Talley, Stephen Williams, Clark Haggans, Russ Hochstein

St. Louis Rams

Eligible: Cornell Banks, Tim Barnes, Tom Brandstater, Mason Brodine, Aaron Brown, Sammy Brown, Kendric Burney, Ben Guidugli, Cory Harkey, T-Bob Hebert, Jamaar Jarrett, Nick Johnson, Joe Long, Deangelo Peterson, Chase Reynolds, Scott Smith

Not eligible: Vernon Gholston, Bryan Mattison, Jose Valdez, Kellen Clemens, Ovie Mughelli

San Francisco 49ers

Eligible: Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Matthew Masifilo, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Mike Person, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Michael Thomas, Kenny Wiggins, Michael Wilhoite

Not eligible: Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Rock Cartwright, Josh Johnson, Brett Swain

Seattle Seahawks

Eligible: Pierre Allen, Allen Bradford, Kris Durham, Cooper Helfet, Rishaw Johnson, Jermaine Kearse, Kyle Knox, Cordarro Law, Pep Levingston, Ricardo Lockette, Sean McGrath, Kris O'Dowd, Josh Portis, DeShawn Shead, Vai Taua, Korey Toomer, Lavasier Tuinei

Not eligible: Phillip Adams, Deon Butler, Paul Fanaika

Note on eligibility

Straight from the collective bargaining agreement:
"The Practice Squad shall consist of the following players, provided that they have not served more than two previous seasons on a Practice Squad:
  • "players who do not have an Accrued Season of NFL experience;
  • "free agent players who were on the Active List for fewer than nine regular season games during their only Accrued Season(s).

"An otherwise eligible player may be a Practice Squad player for a third season only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment.

"A player shall be deemed to have served on a Practice Squad in a season if he has passed the club's physical and been a member of the club's Practice Squad for at least three regular season or postseason games during his first two Practice Squad seasons, and for at least one regular season or postseason game during his third Practice Squad season.

"(For purposes of this Section, a bye week counts as a game provided that the player is not terminated until after the regular season or postseason weekend in question.)"

San Francisco 49ers cut-down analysis

August, 31, 2012
8/31/12
10:28
PM ET
Most significant move. The San Francisco 49ers' decision to keep running back Anthony Dixon played into a broader special-teams theme. Veteran fullback Rock Cartwright, once seen as a key special-teams addition following Blake Costanzo's departure in free agency, received his release. The 49ers traded another core special-teams player, safety Colin Jones, to Carolina for what was thought to be a 2014 seventh-round choice.

The 49ers' decision at quarterback was also among those I found most significant. The team kept Scott Tolzien over Josh Johnson in the No. 3 role even though Johnson played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego. Johnson also outplayed Tolzien in the final exhibition game. Keeping Tolzien appealed, however, because his ceiling appears less defined. Johnson has played in the NFL without setting a sharply upward career trajectory. Colin Kaepernick's emergence as a stronger No. 2 quarterback bought some insurance for carrying a less-experienced third-stringer, perhaps.

Onward and upward: Linebacker Michael Wilhoite, offensive lineman Mike Person and safety Michael Thomas appear to be young players with futures in the NFL. Defensive lineman Matthew Masifilo impressed in the final exhibition game. The 49ers' practice squad will be an option for some of the players let go, but I won't be surprised if waiver claims from other teams get in the way. The 49ers have done a good job building talented depth throughout their roster.

The team also released Eric Bakhtiari, Ikaika Alama-Francis, Derek Hall, Joe Holland, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Cam Johnson, Anthony Mosley, Kyle Nelson, Al Netter, Chris Owusu, Nathan Palmer, Konrad Reuland, Kenny Rowe, Brett Swain and Kenny Wiggins.

Reuland could get another chance. It was a mild surprise, perhaps, to see Garrett Celek stick ahead of Reuland as the third tight end.

What's next: The 49ers will watch closely to see which players clear waivers. Wilhoite is one they would like to re-sign, according to his agent, but teams looking for young depth at linebacker could submit claims. The team could use another outside linebacker, at least on paper, but the 49ers got through last season with only three of them.

The 49ers are carrying only eight offensive linemen. Their swing tackle, Alex Boone, is starting at right guard. If there's an offensive tackle out there worth claiming, the 49ers could consider adding one. But two of their division rivals, Arizona and St. Louis, have greater needs and higher waiver priorities.
San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick was good during a 35-3 preseason victory over the San Diego Chargers on Thursday night.

Very, very good.

Kaepernick's performance came against backups (and, in some cases, against backups to the backups). That should prevent anyone from campaigning for Kaepernick to supplant Alex Smith as the starter in Week 1. But the broader context -- strong training camp, generally strong preseason -- has to be encouraging.

A month ago, the 49ers had to wonder whether Kaepernick would nail down the No. 2 job. He did so rather quickly.

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat makes the case that Kaepernick is more gifted (but not yet better than) Smith. Cohn: "One pass by Kaepernick stood out. He rolled left -- sprinted actually -- and as he ran, he threw across his body to fullback Bruce Miller for nine yards. It was a beautiful throw and it’s Kaepernick’s signature throw -- toss that sucker while his body goes one way and his arm goes the other, an impossible maneuver. No one does it better than him in the entire league. Certainly not Alex Smith. Not even close."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com notes that both Kaepernick scoring passes came on "well-thrown balls on rollouts to either side."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee was similarly impressed: "Throughout the first half, Kaepernick showed why the 49ers used a high, second-round draft pick on him: He's excellent at evading defenses with his quick feet and then making them pay with his big arm. Kaepernick went into the half 12-18 for 158 yards and a 131.3 passer rating."

Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers' quarterbacks fared well, except for Scott Tolzien. Branch: "On his first series, he sailed a third-down throw to a wide-open Nathan Palmer on a slant route. On his second series, he badly underthrew Chris Owusu, who was open down the left sideline. Two plays later, his third-down pass was picked off by linebacker Bront Bird near the line of scrimmage."

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune offers postgame notes following the Seahawks' victory over Oakland. Golden Tate suffered a twisted knee. Red Bryant chipped a tooth while celebrating Jaye Howard's safety.

Art Thiel of Sportspress Northwest framed the performances of Russell Wilson and Matt Flynn this way: "Wilson played the first two series and one quarter, and didn’t have his previous wow factor. Nor did he feel compelled once to take off running. There simply was no need to risk anything in the final exhibition when the defense was in charge the entire game. For those inclined to offer a pity party for Matt Flynn, the heir apparent to the starting QB job who was usurped by the upstart, there is no need to bother. Taking over in the second quarter, he evinced no depression, moving the club on touchdown drives of 78 and 90 yards."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals couldn't have expected much more from rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley on Thursday night. Somers: "He showed poise in the pocket and patience in making his reads. It helped that the Cardinals were successful running the ball, which has been the lone positive on offense this preseason. Running back Beanie Wells started and gained 35 yards on seven carries in the opening quarter."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the Cardinals' final exhibition game changed perceptions about which players might earn spots on the initial 53-man roster. Urban: "Now I'm finding it hard to believe outside linebacker Quentin Groves doesn’t stick around. The other backup outside linebacker choice then would come down to Clark Haggans or Brandon Williams. In the secondary, undrafted rookie Blake Gideon got a ton of playing time, and while Rashad Johnson and Adrian Wilson sat out, I start to wonder if Gideon could have a chance to slip on the roster, in place of Johnson, maybe? And there is little question there is a decision coming between A.J. Jefferson, Greg Toler and Michael Adams."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams aren't sure how much time first-round draft choice Michael Brockers might miss. Thomas: "Brockers took an X-ray on site at the Edward Jones Dome, and Fisher said the ankle will undergo an MRI exam today. Brockers left the locker room Thursday night wearing a walking boot on his right foot, so his status is very much up in the air for the Sept. 9 season opener in Detroit. The defensive tackle from Louisiana State was cut block below the knees by a Raven while in pursuit of Baltimore running back Bernard Pierce down the line of scrimmage. Brockers did not return."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com offers postgame notes, including this one: "DT Matt Conrath left the game with an undisclosed injury and his status moving forward is unknown. The Rams are already a bit thin depth wise at DT and any serious injuries would not be good moving forward."
This link will take you to the next NFC West chat, set to begin at 1 p.m. ET.

A few leftover questions from last week focused on which wide receivers each NFC West team will keep when initial 53-man rosters come into play Friday.

My projections heading into the final preseason games call for six wideouts to make each roster initially: Any injuries suffered Thursday night could affect the outlook.
Our two-day look at NFC West rosters continues with projections for the San Francisco 49ers' offense.

Quarterbacks (4)

Average number kept since 2003: 3.1

Safest bets: Alex Smith, Colin Kaepernick, Josh Johnson

Leading contenders: none

Longer odds: Scott Tolzien

Comment: Johnson has more experience than Kaepernick and could project as the No. 2 quarterback if an injury forced Smith from the lineup on short notice. Johnson's history with coach Jim Harbaugh at the University of San Diego probably helps his chances in that regard. Kaepernick gets a chance this summer to prove he's ready to take the next step following a more regular offseason. Tolzien could project for the practice squad.

Running backs (9)

Average number kept since 2003: 4.9

Safest bets: Frank Gore, LaMichael James, Kendall Hunter, Brandon Jacobs, Bruce Miller

Leading contenders: Rock Cartwright, Anthony Dixon

Longer odds: Jewel Hampton, Cameron Bell

Comment: Moran Norris is out after spending five of the past six seasons as a 49ers fullback. That was one of many changes in the backfield this offseason. Jacobs' arrival suggests Dixon must step up his game significantly to stick on the roster -- and will probably have to demonstrate special-teams value as well. He won't be able to compete with Miller or Cartwright in that regard. If the 49ers find a way to keep six running backs, Cartwright would likely be in the picture almost exclusively for his special-teams value. Hampton could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Wide receivers (11)

Average number kept since 2003: 5.7

Safest bets: Michael Crabtree, Randy Moss, Mario Manningham, A.J. Jenkins

Leading contenders: Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr.

Longer odds: Brett Swain, Joe Hastings, Nathan Palmer, Chris Owusu, Brian Tyms

Comment: The first four appear set as long as Moss continues on his current trajectory. The 49ers kept five at the position in Week 1 last season. Despite talk of opening up the offense, the team could have a hard time justifying six roster spots for wideouts for a coaching staff that seems to relish using multiple tight ends. Williams and Ginn carry obvious special-teams value in the return game, a huge consideration. I have a hard time envisioning the 49ers, stung by Williams' miscues in the NFC Championship Game, taking undue chances in the return game at Green Bay in the opener. Ginn is the most proven return specialist on the team and a game-breaker when healthy. Owusu could be a candidate for the practice squad.

Tight ends (5)

Average number kept since 2003: 2.9

Safest bets: Vernon Davis, Delanie Walker

Leading contenders: Nate Byham, Konrad Reuland

Longer odds: Garrett Celek

Comment: Byham was emerging as a top-flight blocking tight end before a knee injury ended his 2011 season during training camp. Reuland, then an undrafted rookie, had a chance to gain ground while spending last season on the practice squad. Reuland played for Harbaugh and staff at Stanford.

Offensive linemen (15)

Average number kept since 2003: 9.0

Safest bets: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis, Daniel Kilgore, Joe Looney

Leading contenders: Mike Person, Jason Slowey

Longer odds: Derek Hall, David Gonzales, Garrett Chisolm, Chase Beeler, Kenny Wiggins, Al Netter

Comment: Boone has become the prohibitive favorite to start at right guard even though he remains in the early stages of a conversion from tackle. Boone could move back to tackle if the 49ers were to lose Staley or Davis to injury. Boone remains the third-best tackle on the team. Kilgore once stood as a candidate at right guard, but he now projects as Goodwin's eventual successor at center. Looney, a rookie fourth-round choice, could be the long-term right guard, but he's recovering from foot surgery.

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