Five 49ers to watch: 5. Ikaika Alama-Francis

August 25, 2012, 4:18 pm
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(This is the first part in a series that spotlights five 49ers players to watch in the team's exhibition game Sunday, 1 p.m. (FOX-TV), at the Denver Broncos.)The 49ers signed Ikaika Alama-Francis 10 days ago when they were quickly running out of outside linebackers.Aldon Smith sustained a right hip bruise. He is getting better. But it's still iffy whether he will be available to play against the Broncos. Ahmad Brooks missed a game with a knee injury. He should be back in the lineup Sunday. Undrafted rookie Kourtnei Brown (leg) does not figure to play, though.
The 49ers want to keep four outside linebackers on their 53-man roster, but only if that fourth player earns his spot on the team.After all, the 49ers kept four outside linebackers through the final cuts a year ago. But a day later, the 49ers cut Antwan Applewhite to make room for the addition of inside linebackerspecial-teamer Tavares Gooden.Behind the starters, the 49ers have a solid backup: Parys Haralson, who started all 16 games last season before yielding to Smith in pass-rush situations.After that, there are no clear-cut answers.Journeyman Eric Bakhtiari is the No. 4 right now. He played well in the second halves of the 49ers' first two exhibition games. Alama-Francis, who has played 35 games in five previous seasons with Detroit and Miami, will get a chance."He's got some potential," 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio said of Alama-Francis. "Hopefully we'll get him some good playing time this week and get him prepared to play."Alama-Francis (6-foot-5, 275 pounds) does not have much time to make his case for a roster spot. The first round of cuts from 90 to 75 are scheduled for Monday. Every NFL team must cut to 53 players by Friday at 6 p.m."I got a two-week window, so hopefully I can show them enough to be on this team for the 53," Alama-Francis told this week. "You know how the NFL works: 'Hey, come in, get the job done or go home.' "