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49er Practice Squad Recap

by Eric Tellez ***1/13/10*** sfreport15@gmail.com

The label practice squad player is given to 8-individuals that practice with a team while not being listed on the official 53-man roster. Generally, these players are rookies or young veterans that need to work on certain aspects of their game. This is a change from the early days when the main responsibility of a "taxi squad" guy was to learn the plays of an upcoming opponent and then use these plays against the big club in practice. Players can only be members of a practice squad for 2 seasons. A player can not be put back on a practice squad if they have over 1-year total experience or 9 consecutive games on an active roster. Their salary is $5,200 per week for 17 weeks, which is significantly lower than the league rookie minimum of $285,000. Even though practice squad players work with one team they are considered free agents and are able to sign with any team, provided that the new team places them on an active roster immediately. Let's take a look at the 49er practice squad situation at the moment.

#75 Alex Boone / Tackle / Ohio State
It would be great if Boone could put it all together and make the big club next year. There had been a time when it seemed like Boone's off field troubles would get the best of him but he has not disappointed since he joined the team. The 49ers re-signed him on Jan 6, 2010 and at 6'8", 315 pounds this guy could be a big deal in many ways!

#58 Martail Burnett / Defensive End / Utah
Burnett was originally drafted by the Minnesota Vikings and was on their practice squad before the 49ers signed him. At the moment, he's 25-years old with only 1 year experience. His age could play a part on how the team will evaluate him in the future. All the draft reports I read mentioned "hard worker". Burnett was re-signed on Jan 6, 2010.

#49 Joe Jon Finley / Tight End / Oklahoma
Finley signed with the 49ers as undrafted free agent in 2008. At 6'6", 254-pounds he would make an excellent addition opposite Vernon Davis on short yardage and goal-line formations. More-and-more teams are turning to the double tight end package as a way of slowing down outside pass rushers by making them line-up as far off the ball as possible. The 49ers did re-sign Finley on Jan 11, 2010 even though he is without further practice squad eligibility. Expect him to earn a roster spot next season.

#35 Keon Lattimore / Runningback / Maryland
I'm not certain the 49er management ever reads this blog, but if they did they'd know how much I enjoy watching Lattimore. Sure, I'll admit that he's not exciting and not starter material, but watching him reminds me of the days of Derek Loville and Keith Henderson. The days when the starter was on the bench in the 4th and we would go between the tackles 8-or-9 plays in a row to protect a lead. As far as I've heard, Lattimore has not been offered a contract and at the moment I'm pretty comfortable saying he won't be back next year. Good luck, Keon!

#60 Khalif Mitchell / Defensive Tackle / East Carolina
What was reported; on January 6, 2010 Khalif Mitchell was re-signed to a contract. What was not reported; Kentwan Balmer, 12 tackles in a season is not going to cut it! I'd love to have the combination of Mitchell and Balmer on the field at the same time considering they are both 6'5" and both are roughly 320 pounds. Two young, motivated, aggressive down linemen creating havoc on the NFC West for the next 10-years would be great. But I'm not counting on it and I don't believe Mike Singletary is either.

#18 Rodney Wright / Wide Receiver / Fresno State
I love arena league players & I love 5'9" wide receivers. So you can imagine how I feel about Rodney Wright. Perhaps there's a little something in all of us that wants to see an underdog succeed, and it would be great to see Wright make a name for himself in San Francisco. However, if there's one position the 49ers seem to have a lot of players fighting for it's the 2nd wide receiver. I haven't heard of Wright being offered a contract but I hope some team gives him a shot.

#17 Dominique Zeigler / Wide Receiver / Baylor
At the end of last season's training camp there was a huge buzz around Zeigler. Many experts predicted he'd be the #3 guy with maybe an occasional start. Then the buzz died and before you knew it Zeigler was fighting for the right just to stay with the team. I'm not going to make any statements about Michael Crabtree just yet, but regardless of how Crabs produces the Niners are going to need some help at wideout. Arnaz Battle is on the wrong side of 30-years old and Josh Morgan hasn't seemed comfortable. This season is now-or-never time for Zeigler, who resigned on Jan 6, 2010.

***NOTE*** The 49ers signed fullback Jehuu Caulcrick to a deal on January 12, 2010. Caulcrick has spent time with both the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before coming to San Francisco. Even though he is listed as a practice squad player in the paper, from what I can tell he has played past his eligibility. The 49ers have needed a quality back-up for Moran Norris and Caulcrick may be the answer.


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