49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

September 3, 2008
Rookies will be scarce on Sunday

There's a good likelihood that just one of the 49ers' six draft picks will be in uniform for Sunday's opener against the Cardinals. Both Kentwan Balmer and Chilo Rachal look to be on the sideline. At this point, Balmer is the least versatile of the team's d-linemen, having only played left defensive end. Rachal, meanwhile, is the team's fourth best guard.

The 49ers' fourth-round pick, center Cody Wallace, also looks to be on the bench because Tony Wragge and David Baas have experience playing center. The outlook is better for the third-round pick, Reggie Smith, because he plays special teams and because the 49ers are playing the Cardinals, a team that likes to pass the ball. However, the team has an abundance of defensive backs this year, including two -- Donald Strickland and Marcus Hudson -- who can play both cornerback and safety. Smith would appear to be the odd man out if they chose to sit a defensive back Sunday. The 49ers' seventh-round pick, Larry Grant, is on the practice squad.

Mike Nolan, of course, chose to look at the glass-is-half-full angle regarding his rookie class. "The better you are, the less those rookies play," he said. "... It's nice to see that we've got a little bit of depth."

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Asked why he thinks this year's squad is better than last year's, which went into the season with high expectations, Nolan immediately pointed to the quarterback position: "We're more established at the quarterback position than we were a year ago. More depth." More established? The 49ers essentially exchanged Trent Dilfer, who had 14 years in the league, for J.T. O'Sullivan, who will be making his first-ever regular-season start Sunday. What is it about O'Sullivan that gives Nolan so much confidence? "Because of what we've done in practice and in the preseason games. Six years of experience. I think that's pretty good," Nolan said of O'Sullivan's tenure in the league. "... I think that makes you better. I've been several places myself. I'm glad I've been several places."

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The 49ers head into the season with just two players - Parys Haralson and Aubrayo Franklin - on the injury report. Both, however, will go through practice today. They don't have an official designation yet, but both look to be questionable or better for the game.


-- Matt Barrows



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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