Who Is On The Hot Seat
May 9 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
This years’ 49ers squad will have a few names on the depth chart that will have to really pick up their games, or it could be the end of their time with the team. These players have had their time with the team, but have done little to live up to the expectations the team had of them when they signed or drafted them. Some will have to contend with some new additions to the team fighting to move up the depth chart.
One such player is Reggie McGrew. McGrew could be cut before the season ever gets started, but more likely the team will give him one last shot at stardom. The big defensive tackle, a former first round pick, has fought injury after injury during his tenure with the club.
Another one of those players is JJ Stokes. Stokes spent the early part of his career with the team injured, and was then beat out for the second receiving spot on the team by Terrell Owens. Stokes spent time as the third receiver on the team, starting for one long bout when Jerry Rice was injured, and finally assuming the official starting role last season. The former first round draft pick looks like he could be a productive receiver, but if he doesn’t come up big, or at least bigger this season, his days will be numbered with the team.
Offensive lineman Derek Deese is another player that fall under this category. Deese has been a very productive player with the 49ers for quite some time, but the team will be looking to upgrade its offensive line next off-season particularly on the left side where Deese plays. Deese will need a big year to secure a spot on the starting roster next season.
Chike Okeafor may have his days numbered at defensive end barring a great season at defensive end this season. Okeafor was for the most part ineffective during his time with the team. He had one strong stretch last season but then suffered an injury that eliminated the chances of a big season. After losing his starting role to John Engelberger, and the team bringing in Sean Moran this season, Okeafor will have to give the coaches a good reason to keep him on the squad.
It may surprise some that Dana Stubblefield’s name is on this list too. The two time 49er, signed a big contract last season that will have the 49ers paying him big money next season. Stubblefield was quite at defensive tackle this past season, stopping the run well, but not doing much to disrupt the pass. He’s a huge presence in the locker room, and a key chemistry man to the team, but with the team having such high hopes for rookie Josh Shaw, Stubblefield needs a big season. However, if the team parts ways with Reggie McGrew, Stubblefied may receive a ‘get of jail free’ card, giving him an extra life. The team also hopes Stubblefield will eventually coach on the team.
These players need to bring big things to the field this season. It’s crucial for their futures that they have successful seasons. The 49ers will be watching, evaluating, and these are players that are likely targeted as areas for improvement if they don’t come up big this season.