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Expecting Versatility From Depth
August 17 2002
By Bryan Hersh of 49ers Paradise
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As the 49ers try and fill out their final spots on the fifty-three man roster, the team will not just be evaluating how well the players play, but also how many different positions the players can play. Versatility is key on the depth chart, and the ability to play multiple positions is essential in todayís salary capped version of the NFL.

Depth players are expected to participate on special teams as well as at their position, but thatís not all. The 49ers want their safeties to be able to play both free and strong safety, they want their backup cornerbacks to be able to play on both the left and the right side, they want their linebackers to be able to play at least two of the three positions, their defensive lineman to play at least two positions, their offensive lineman to play at least on both sides of the line and if possible more than one position, their running backs to play both the halfback and fullback position, and the received to be able to play in and out of the slot. About the only players the team expects to play one position is quarterback and tight end - but even they participate on special teams, as place kick holders and as long snappers.

The more one can do, the better their odds are at making the team. Players like Dave Fiore and Derrick Deese are notorious for their versatility along the offensive line and there are many others on the squad with similar flexibility like Paul Smith, Terry Jackson, Sean Moran and recently signed Chat Cota.

When younger players start bidding for roster spots, particularly on a team filled with as many veterans as the 49ers currently have, their ability to play more than one position gives them a much better chance on making the team. Itís for that reason that guys like Eric Heitmann, Jimmy Williams, Saladin McCullough, Jamal Robertson, are all trying to play as many positions as possible. As the 49ers look to August 27th to trim their roster, they will factor in how well players play, but the amount of positions they can play wonít be left out.

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