Thomas excelling on 49ers' practice squad

Three and Out: Aldon Smith to see more time, Crabtree misses practice

Thomas excelling on 49ers' practice squad
November 15, 2013, 7:30 am
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Michael Thomas is the only player on the 49ers’ eight-member practice squad who is making more than the league minimum. (AP)


The 49ers signed Michael Thomas as an UDFA from Stanford in 2012, where he played for coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. (AP)

Programming note: Watch Friday’s 49ers press conference with Jim Harbaugh streaming live right here at 12:45 p.m.  

SANTA CLARA – Since the week leading up to the third exhibition game, 49ers practices have been held behind closed gates at the team’s practice facility.

But the 49ers recently supplied a peek through the green-tarp covered fences that completely line the practice fields.

[NEWS: Lattimore expects to begin practicing next week]

The 49ers rewarded safety Michael Thomas, a second-year member of the team’s practice squad, with a pay raise. Clearly, Thomas has been performing well as part of the scout team in practices after being among the team's final cuts the past two seasons.

“It’s a sign I’ve been doing well,” Thomas said, “and they’re basically saying, ‘Keep doing a great job.’”

The 49ers made the rare move to increase Thomas’ weekly pay from $6,000, the minimum for practice squad players, to $8,823.52 a week, according to a source.

Thomas is the only player on the 49ers’ eight-member practice squad who is making more than the league minimum. And it also seems to be evidence the 49ers envision Thomas as a player who can make an impact on the 53-man roster in the future.

Thomas (5 foot 11, 197 pounds) has additional value for his ability to play the slot. Veteran Donte Whitner is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

The 49ers signed Thomas as an undrafted 2012 free agent from Stanford, where he played for coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. He outlasted 2012 draft pick Trenton Robinson, who signed with Philaladelphia’s practice squad after final cuts and currently is on Washington’s 53-man roster.

[NEWS: Fangio: Aldon Smith will play a lot against Saints]

Players on practice squads can be signed to another team’s 53-man roster at any point during the season. Typically, a practice squad player might receive a raise as enticement for remaining on the practice squad. Thomas said he heard there had been some interest but said no other team has made him an offer.

“I love it here,” Thomas said. “They (the 49ers) might know something.”