Junior Bryant- 10/06/2000
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The 49ers are a growing team. They are an improving team. They are a young team. Being all that there are several factors to consider. What allows a team to improve? What causes a team to fail? The obvious answer is the personnel, but how about the not so obvious. One of the hardest things to do as a young team is establish depth at every position. The 49ers will see the effects of that as the season wears on.

With only two real tight ends on the roster, this was clearly a worry area for the 49ers heading into the season. Now with Greg Clark out indefinitely, the ramifications will be felt. Justin Swift is the only other real tight end on the roster; the other Brian Jennings is really a long snapper. I hope that the 49ers wont miss Clark too much, but don't look for any two tight end sets until he comes back.

Injuries in the NFL are inevitable. The 49ers were short on linebackers heading into the season, and now that Jeff Ulbrich and Julian Peterson are out for at least one game together, the 49ers have only four active linebackers on their roster. This is absurd. I wouldn't be surprised if the 49ers are forced into moving Chike Okeafor to linebacker until someone recovers.

The safety spot was hardly a worry at the beginning of the season, but with two injuries to the position, in John Keith and Zack Bronson, the 49ers are suddenly short in this area too.

Clearly adding solid depth is the hardest part of establishing a young team. The 49ers are the perfect example of that. They have managed to field an improving starting twenty-two, some of whom are actually real talents, but once one goes down there is simply no one there to pick up the slack. It is clearly the greatest area of concern for the team, and is the reason they will likely try to stockpile talent from this season's draft, as they did in the last one.

It should be noted that the 49ers have established this depth in some areas. The defensive line for example has seen a multitude of injuries, but the team seems to have enough players at this position. Quarterback is obviously over-stocked. Defensive backs, though they are not all the best talents, there are enough bodies. Clearly the offensive backfield has the greatest amount of depth, with Garner, Hearst, Beasley, Jackson, Jervey, Lewis, and Smith. The other areas flat out need depth, and the 49ers will struggle until they find some.
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