49ers Mailbag: Spencer's spot is not slam dunk

September 1, 2011, 6:53 pm
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Matt MaioccoCSNBayArea.com
As I awaited my flight to Southern California for the 49ers exhibition finale Thursday night against the San Diego Chargers, I solicited some questions from the good folks who have joined me on my Facebook page.Here is what was on their minds:Q: Who do you think will be a surprise cut? (Josh Almond)
My response: If I supplied a name and that player was released as the 49ers trim their roster limit to 53, wouldn't that spoil the surprise?
But the player who interests me the most is veteran cornerbackShawntae Spencer.The 49ers' coaching staff wasn't exactly blown away by the film they watched of him from last year. And with a salary cap value of 3.2 million, Spencer's spot on the 49ers' 53-man roster is not a slam dunk.Spencer has not made it through a full padded practice this entire training camp, and the coaching staff's patience has been tested. Of course, Spencer's lingering hamstring strain has frustrated him, too. I expect Spencer to be included on the roster because of his experience, but my confidence level with that prediction is not high.
Q: Which free agent the Niners lost will hurt them the most? (Andrew Meredith)
My response: Although not exactly what you asked, my answer Nate Clements. (Clements was released; he was not a free agent.) After all, I believe Clements was the 49ers' best cornerback last year. If they had retained Clements and added Carlos Rogers, that's a pretty decent cornerback duo.Instead, the 49ers have a lot of question marks on the other side of Rogers, who signed a one-year, 4.25 million contract at the start of training camp.The 49ers had answers for all the other players they let get away in free agency, such as David Baas (Jonathan Goodwin), Takeo Spikes (Navorro Bowman), Aubrayo Franklin (Ray McDonaldIsaac Sopoaga) and Manny Lawson (Ahmad BrooksAldon Smith).Q: Is Edwards gonna be our 1st 1000 yard reciever in years? (Dean Sullivan)
My response: In 2003, Terrell Owens had 1,102 receiving yards with Jeff Garcia, with an assist from Tim Rattay, supplying him with the football.If the 49ers are going to have a 1,000-yard receiver in 2011, Braylon Edwards won't be the guy to get the job done. Instead, tight end Vernon Davis has the best chance to break that drought.But with the state of the 49ers' passing game looking as rough right now as it has this time of year in recent memory, I do not expect any receiver to put up those kinds of numbers. This will likely be a topic again in 2012.
Q: How many OL do you think they will keep on the final roster? (Jeff Tankersley)
My response: We know the 49ers' top seven linemen: Joe Staley, Mike Iupati, Jonathan Goodwin, Chilo Rachal, Anthony Davis, Adam Snyder and Alex Boone. After that, it seems rookie Daniel Kilgore is a lock, too.After those eight players, the other two at the top of the list are veteran Tony Wragge and rookie tackle Mike Person.Only seven linemen will suit up on game days. If the 49ers release Person, he would likely make it onto the practice squad. Wragge, of course, is not eligible for the practice squad. Look for the 49ers to keep 11 offensive linemen total, combining the active roster and the practice squad.My last guess is they keep nine offensive linemen on the 53-man roster and two on the practice squad.Q: Will Barry Sims save us from Joe Staley (again)? (Gabriel Black)
My response: No, the 49ers have closed the door on Barry Sims because Boone has taken over as the team's top backup at the tackle positions.Q: Zeigler is one of my favorites.. what are your thoughts on his chances? (Dale Halvorson)
My response:Dominique Zeigler returned to practice last week after being removed from the physically-unable-to-perform list. He had season-ending surgery in December to repair a torn ACL.Zeigler is a very good player, but he has been in an uphill battle this camp. After all, Michael Crabtree, Braylon Edwards , Josh Morgan, Ted Ginn Jr. and Kyle Williams are ahead of him on the depth chart. But Zeigler is the kind of player that coaches like. He has quickly put himself in position on the bubble with the final cuts looming on Saturday.Q: Will the 49ers look to add anyone after all teams have made their cuts? (Jesse Reed)
My response: Yes. Every team in the league will look at the waiver wire to see if any of the players they've targeted from other teams are available. It does not mean that the 49ers will be awarded a player off the waiver wire, but I'd be mildly surprised if they do not at least put in a claim.

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