The 49ers Warm Up For Regular Season --09/02/01
logo.jpg (11350 bytes)

The countdown to kickoff has really begun. The 49ers will be opening the season against the Falcons, but before they can even look to prepare for the game, the team needs to reduce it's roster from 62 to 53. Already the team has released the likes of veteran Jr. Bryant, and more tough decisions are sure to be made in the coming days.

Garrison Hearst is the perfect example of a tough decision. Hearst looked good in pre-season, but certainly was not his old self. The salary cap strapped 49ers were seriously considering releasing Hearst after his two-year comeback. Luckily for both sides, Hearst has agreed to a new contract that should keep him with the team. Of course, that would mean the 49ers will be keeping six running backs this season (Hearst, Barlow, Lewis, Smith, Beasley and Jackson); should that be the case, it will likely eat at other roster spots, possibly receiver.

A similar situation has occurred with the safeties on the team. Al Blades, Ronnie Heard and Pierson Prioleau are fighting for one or two spots on the team. The 49ers simply don't have enough room to keep all the talent they would like too.

The 49ers have finally resolved their punter issues in finding Jason Baker off the waivers. Baker looked excellent in the thin Denver air, and the team hopes he can perform in the gusty winds of San Francisco. However the team is still trying to figure out who the kick returner will be, and may even sift through the waiver wire in the hopes of finding someone.

Finally there is the matter of health. It seems like every season the 49ers are hoping to get healthy for the regular season, and this one will be no different. The team just lost Julian Peterson to a high ankle sprain. He's doubtful this week, and will be evaluated on a week to week basis. Peterson is not only the teams best linebacker, he's also has been playing in the 49ers system the longest. The team will turn to Terry Killens to take over Peterson's role. Linebacker Jamie Winborn is also looking to return this week. He is projected as a backup to Derek Smith and Jeff Ulbrich. The team is hopping that JJ Stokes and Tai Streets can return from their hamstring pulls. The two and three receivers respectively are needed to give Garcia the targets that can make him have another Pro Bowl season. The team is also hurting at defensive tackle, where Bryant Young is looking to come back. Young is the best defensive player on the team, and his presence should make the life of rookie Andre Carter, and team mate Dana Stubblefield much easier. Of course, if he can't return for Atlanta the defense will be in trouble. Finally there is cornerback Jason Webster. Webster is a key to the 49ers pass defense, and will be needed to start opposite of Ahmed Plummer. He is vital to stopping the deep threat of other teams.

The 49ers have lots on their plate before the season starts. From making some tough decisions to getting key players healthy (and fresh rather than rusty) - the determining factor for the first few games of the regular season, could very well be how the 49ers handle this week.

Talk about it in the 49ers Paradise Forum

fball.jpg (6395 bytes)fball.jpg (6395 bytes)