The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners

The Best Seat In The House For All Your News On The 5 Time World Champion Niners
A review and commentary on the history & lastest events surrounding the 17 time NFC Western Division & 5 -Time World Champion San Francisco 49ers. From 1946 and the All America Football Conference to 2009 and the road to a 6th Super Bowl title - For true fans of the scarlet and gold! Enjoy!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

A Closer Look At the Newest 49ers

As coaches and GMs love to say on cutdown day, it's a numbers game. There are only 53 roster spots available per team at the start of the regular season. The 49ers added six draft picks. Some draftees - Kentwan Balmer, Chilo Rachal, Reggie Smith and Cody Wallace - are virtually assured roster spots. Josh Morgan and Larry Grant have work to do to stick on the final roster.
Here is the breakdown of what each new addition means to the team:

Defensive lineman Kentwan Balmer
What it means for him: Chosen in the first round, Balmer must make an immediate contribution. The 49ers are keeping an open mind. They plan to use him at nose tackle and left end before settling on a spot for him. Either way, he figures to get a lot of playing time as a rookie.
What it means for others: Aubrayo Franklin enters the second year of a three-year, $6.1 million contract. Isaac Sopoaga, who was Franklin's back up last season, recently signed a five-year, $20 million deal. Sopoaga will make twice as much as Franklin, which might be a clue which player's starting job is the most tenuous. The plan is to move Sopoaga to left end. Justin Smith, Sopoaga, Balmer, Franklin, Ronald Fields and Ray McDonald figure to be on the team. Guys such as Joe Cohen, Atiyyah Ellison and Melvin Oliver have to battle to stick around.

Guard Chilo Rachal
What it means for him: When minicamp opens on Friday, Tony Wragge will line up at right guard with the first-team offense. But the door will be open in training camp for Rachal (second-round pick) to get in there. If he shows he can handle the move up to the NFL, Rachal has a good chance to be an opening-week starter.
What it means for others: David Baas will miss a portion of training camp. It's a lot like his rookie season. He was projected as a starter as a rookie, but a hamstring injury kept him sidelined most of camp. He could not recover from missing so much time in training camp. Baas did not move into the starting lineup until injuries forced the issue late his rookie season. Again, he was scheduled to be a starter. Now, he has a long road in front of him to get back on the field after sustaining a torn pectoral muscle last week. After being cleared, he still has to regain his upper-body strength and win his way back into the starting lineup.

Defensive back Reggie Smith
What it means for him: Some view the third-round pick as a Cover 2 corrner. Others see him as a safety. The 49ers envision Smith as a physical, in-your-face cornerback. Because Nate Clements takes the opponents' best receiver and does not get much help, the 49ers want the corner on the other side to be physical at the line of scrimmage. The other corner generally has safety help over the top. If, over a period of time, Smith proves he can't cover NFL receivers, the 49ers have the option to move him to free safety.
What it means for others: Walt Harris is a 13-year vet who eventually must be replaced. The 49ers want to make sure they have some candidates ready to take over. Shawntae Spencer signed a reasonable contract extension in 2006 and has a deal in place through 2012. He has experienced difficulty staying healthy. When healthy, Spencer has not been the most consistent performer, either. Tarell Brown, whom many believed was a second-round value found in the fifth round, is not fully recovered from a partially torn ACL from the final game of the season. The injury did not require surgery. The club expects him to be ready for the start of training camp. After 2005, when the 49ers were picking up free-agent corners off the street and sticking them in the starting lineup, the club has at least built some depth at this spot. A decent player will probably be let go after camp. Marcus Hudson and Donald Strickland, along with Smith, Brown and Spencer will duke it out for backup spots.

Center Cody Wallace
What it means for him: The fourth-round selection comes to the 49ers as a backup to Eric Heitmann. It would be very difficult for a rookie to win a starting job at center over a guy who has been around like Heitmann. So much of the center position is having a grasp for the team's protections and a concept of what the defense is doing.
What it means for others: Heitmann is scheduled to be a free agent at the end of the season. Perhaps, they're lining up their contingency plan. Or, Nolan mentioned that Heitmann is capable of moving to guard, too. With Wallace on the team, obviously the 49ers are not projecting Baas as the next center. This is a big season for Baas, who is signed through 2009. If he has yet to establish himself as a starter, the club might decide he does not fit into their future plans. The 49ers want Adam Snyder to play guard, but I can't help but think the 49ers have the makings of a good long-term offensive line with Joe Staley and Snyder at the tackles, Baas and Rachal at the guards and Wallace at center.

Receiver Josh Morgan
What it means for him: There is not a bona fide No. 1 receiver on the team, so the door is wide open for this sixth-rounder to prove he can be of value to the 49ers. Playing time will be difficult to find as a rookie. He'll have to adjust to Mike Martz's offense and Jerry Sullivan's detailed coaching. He will have to battle through the frustration of learning things that are completely new to him. But Morgan definitely has a chance to stick around. If he takes advantage of some chances, he could work into a significant role. He better come to training camp in great shape. Rookies have never worked like they will during their first NFL training camp. And rookie receivers, in particular, are susceptible to leg injuries.
What it means for others: Jason Hill and Ashley Lelie must get off to a great starts to work their way into positions to get more practice reps. Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson and Arnaz Battle don't seem to be going anywhere. Morgan, conceivably, could push Hill or Lelie back a notch.

Linebacker Larry Grant
What it means for him: The good news for this seventh-round pick is that he projects at a position where the starting job is up for grabs. He'll have an opportunity to compete for the starting "ted' linebacker job. Although it's unlikely he'll win the starting job, Grant can still make a major impact on special teams as a rookie. But the 49ers might keep only four inside linebackers, which means that while he has an outside chance to win a starting job, he is also fighting for a roster spot.
What it means for others: If the 49ers had grabbed Curtis Lofton in the first round, Dontarrious Thomas would have been replaced as a starter before ever starting a game. Grant's acquisition appears to mean that Brandon Moore is, again, pushed to the background. Nolan said Thomas, Jeff Ulbrich and Grant would line up and compete at the "ted," while Brandon Moore will be Patrick Willis' backup at the "mike." The "ted" is the strong inside linebacker position. The team is obviously not convinced Moore has the ability to get off blocks effectively enough to play on the strong side. The door remains open for the 49ers to pursue veteran Takeo Spikes, who is returning from season-ending surgery on his rotator cuff. The Eagles released him (failed physical) earlier this offseason. Because Spikes would play the strong inside position, he would be taking on more blockers, thus exposing himself to more collisions.

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