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September 3, 2013
Derek Carrier makes eight: 49ers psquad analysis

carrier.jpg

Here are the 49ers' eight practice-squad players and how they fit into the team's current and future plans. The practice squad always is in a state of flux, but many of those who have stuck around on Jim Harbaugh's squads in recent years have gotten shots on the regular roster. Jose Hastings, Michael Wilhote, Chad Hall and Tony Jerod-Eddie all spent time on both the practice squad and - later -- on the 53-man squad in the last two seasons.

2013 practice squad:

OT - Carter Bykowski. The team's penultimate draft pick has nice size at 6-7 but needs to get stronger and to move his feet better. That's typical for a late-round rookie. Next year will be interesting when Luke Marquardt, who at 6-8, 311, looms over everyone else in the locker room, joins the competition. Marquardt is coming back from a broken foot.

TE - Derek Carrier. Carrier is the only practice-squad player who did not spend the offseason with the 49ers. He was prolific in college - Division III Beloit College - with 189 receptions, 3,111 receiving yards and 29 touchdowns. He spent time last season on the Raiders' and Eagles' practice squads. The 49ers, however, have a lot of tight ends at the moment. Newcomer Chris Harper will be converted from wide receiver to F-back, the role Delanie Walker played in recent years. That conversion, however, likely will take time.

RB -- Jewel Hampton. Finally healthy, Hampton led the team in rushing in the preseason. Though the 49ers seem stacked at the position, Frank Gore is in the twilight of his career, Kendall Hunter is coming back from an Achilles', LaMichael James does not have the size to be an every-down runner and Marcus Lattimore is no sure thing moving forward. That is, they are wise to keep a good inside runner like Hampton in the fold for now.

WR - Chuck Jacobs. Every offseason, a plucky wide receiver seems to earn a spot on the practice squad, whether it's Hastings or Hall or, this year, Jacobs. He impressed coaches by toughing it out through every training-camp and preseason practice despite being sub-180 pounds. That zeal will serve the team well as Jacobs emulates opposing wide receivers in practice. Will it ever earn him a regular role on the 49ers' 53-man squad? It didn't for Hastings or Hall.

CB Darryl Morris - The 49ers intended to place draft pick Marcus Cooper on the practice squad, but the Chiefs claimed the big-bodied cornerback first. Would they have kept Cooper and Morris? Probably. The team has all sorts of question marks at cornerback next year and beyond, and the 49ers want as many bodies as possible moving forward. Morris has elite speed but below average size.

OL Patrick Omameh - The 49ers are deep at guard and center with Adam Snyder, Daniel Kilgore and Joe Looney filling the three backup spots. Like every other team in the NFL, they could use depth at tackle, which is why they initially are hanging onto Bykowski, Marquardt and Omameh, who played guard and right tack this offseason.

DL Mike Purcell - Purcell played well toward the end of training camp and into the preseason. However, there's a lot of young talent on the defensive line, including injured rookies Tank Carradine and Quinton Dial, neither of whom have played to this point.

S Michael Thomas - The former Stanford defensive back is smart and he's familiar to defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Jim Harbaugh. In fact, he's the only one of Harbaugh's ex college players in the building. Thomas plays both safety and nickel cornerback. That's notable because the team's two nickel cornerbacks - Carlos Rogers and Perrish Cox - are iffy for next season while starting strong safety Donte Whitner is scheduled to be a a free agent. Cox is scheduled to be a restricted free agent while Rogers has the highest cap figure on the squad for 2014.

- 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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