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49ers Still Shuffling - By Bryan Hersh Sept 10 2006

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With the NFL regular season only 9 days away, most teams are quite confident on their depth chart, and over base systems they intend to implore. Despite the fact that Mike Nolan was brought to the 49ers to lend direction to the club, the team currently sits 'dazed and confused'. In a recent press conference Nolan claimed that only about half a dozen players were in question leading up to the final roster cut down. While those 6 players may be on the brink of making the team or not, the rest of the team's depth chart is far from secure, and lacks the direction many 49ers fans were hoping for.

There is no doubt in my mind that Nolan was handed the short end of the stick when he was asked to be the 49ers head coach last year. Nolan accepted a position with great power, and with that came great responsibility that is to overhaul one of the worst rosters in the NFL. As Nolan continues to build a roster from the bottom up, many fans have begun to question whether or not Nolan is actually improving the roster.

From my perspective I see Nolan trying to find players from teams that had better records than the 49ers. After all, a backup on a 10-6 team is probably better than the backups on the 49ers 4-12 teams. This strategy makes sense, but only to an extent. Ultimately the starting players need to be overhauled with an infusion of real talent, not castaways from other teams. Nolan had attempted to that type of building primarily through the draft, but these young players take lots of time to develop. Nolan had made several free agent acquisitions that should help the first string talent on the club; but with $10 million in cap room, there is reason to question whether he has done enough to the first string talent to make the 49ers competitive particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

The lack of talent across the board on the 49ers roster means that heading into the teams last pre-season game there is still plenty of uncertainty. Expect the 49ers to be shuffling players in and out all game, though designated starters will either not play, or only get 10 15 snaps. Among those expected to not play are: Walt Harris, Jeff Ulbrich, Derek Smith, Larry Allen, Frank Gore and Bryant Young.

The team has to find a way to generate a pass rush and control third downs on both sides of the ball. Also, the coaches have to find a steady system and stick to it, with the right players in place. The season is just around the corner, and the 49ers will be pressing hard to get the roster set. That means that players should be playing their hearts out to secure their position with the club. When the season starts the 49ers will have to be prepared, and set. If not, the lower talent level, and lack of direction will make this one very long season.

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