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Bronson Emerges As Pivotal Man
May 25 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
Zack Bronson will finally get his due this season. The former undrafted free agent has battled to be a part of the 49ers ever since joining the club out of college. After nearly an entire season as the teams starting free safety, Bronson can finally feel secure in his position. Amazing what seven interceptions will do for your roster spot isnít?

With a full season under his belt, Bronson will be the leader in the 49ers defensive backfield this season. His ability to play Ďcenter fieldí will allow the punishing Tony Parrish to sneak up into the box and wreak havoc on opposing offenses. Meanwhile the addition of Mike Rumph, will give Bronson some more freedom on passing downs.

A key aspect to Bronsonís continued development however, will be his ability to mesh with Tony Parrish. Bronson and former strong safety Lance Schulters had a great chemistry between them, and it will take a strong effort from both these players to achieve that.

The 49ers have much more confidence in their defensive backfield this season. Bronson and Ahmed Plummer are two players that have extreme football smarts. Their presence along with the continued improvement from Jason Webster, and free agent addition Tony Parrish should make for an absolutely great starting tandem. In nickel and dime situations having a guy like Mike Rumph around will certainly prove key, and the further improvement of Rashad Holman may prove handy too. Two Injured In Mini-Camp The 49ers were not as lucky in this mini-camp as they were in the previous one. Unfortunately the injury list has grown this time around. While neither injury is heart stopping, it does remind us all how crucial it is to keep the team healthy. Seventh round pick Teedy Gaines and undrafted free agent Donnie OíNeal will both miss some off-season practice time to rehab their injuries.

Gaines was injured playing cornerback when he pulled his quadriceps. He could be back for the teamís next mini-camp, while the injury to OíNeal will likely last a little long. The promising receiver broke his left foot in practice. Itís quite unfortunate, but for OíNeal the injury may postpone the teamís interest in him. The 49ers are already loaded at the receiver position - and while OíNeal was a very encouraging sign, it seems unlikely that heíll be able to catch up with other players in his position - like Nate Jackson, after missing about six weeks.

An injury to young players in practice is a popular occurrence. Particularly with muscle pulls and strains. Not only have the youngster not learned to fully protect their bodies, but there is greater impact and stress on the body at the pro-level. In addition some of the younger players do not understand the full importance of warming up. Any or all of these reasons could have contributed to the unfortunate injuries to these players.

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