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One Open Roster Spot
October 26 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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As Frank Strong was added to the 49ers injured reserve, the 49ers opened up a roster spot on the active 53 man roster. The team is considering a number of ways to fill that spot after already adding linebacker Cornelius Anthony this week. Still with injuries mounting, the 49ers have plenty of options for the spot.

Steve Mariucci has already declared that should the 49ers fill the roster spot, and they likely will, it will be through the promotion of a player from within the organization. Given that the 49ers have four glaring holes, safety, receiver, tight end and running back at this moment, itís likely that the roster spot could be used, at least for the time being to fill one of those spots.

The 49ers are very short at safety, where the top backup is actually a linebacker on the team. Activating John Keith who has been out since the first game of last season could be a good way to fill this role, especially if Keith is back to his starting form that he portrayed last season. Keithís addition however, would not fill any of the offensive holes - although it could be a tremendous help on the woeful special teams.

JJ Stokes is likely to be probable at receiver, and given that the 49ers have four other receivers, it is somewhat unlikely that the team would activate Aaron Lockett. Still this remains a minute possibility.

At tight end it appears rather unlikely that Eric Johnson will be able to play this Sunday. That leaves the 49ers with Justin Swift as the lone tight end. Coincidentally, Swift is the teamís emergency full back too -another area where the 49ers are tremendously short. The 49ers will seriously considering upgrading rookie Mark Anelli to help fill this hole.

Garrison Hearst returned to practice on Friday, and the 49ers hope he can at least spell Kevan Barlow throughout the course of the game, to give him some relief. However Hearst isnít the only worry in the offensive backfield. The 49ers currently have no backup fullback, and though Paul Smith returned to practice this week, he is still questionable for Sunday. Fullback Jason Isom from the practice squad would be a nice addition here.

Finally the 49ers may choose to leave the roster spot open for two more weeks and then promote Josh Shaw from the injured reserve. I personally believe Shaw will not be activated unless the 49ers suffer an injury on their defensive line, which leaves the 49ers with two prominent options.

It appears that the team will look to either Jason Isom or Mark Anelli to round out the 53 man squad. With so many injured players on the team, either of these players would likely be active for Sundayís game if they are promoted up to the regular roster. Itís unfortunate that the 49ers are in this situation, but for some of these young players itís the chance of a lifetime.

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