2006 49ers practice squad: Player analysis

The 49ers signed three young players Monday to complete their eight-man practice squad, joining five others who had spent the summer with the team before being released at cutdown time. Here's a look at each player, with analysis of his potential and chances of contributing on the 53-man roster at some point in the future.

QB Gibran Hamdan: Hamdan was almost a prize awarded to the Niners when no other team claimed him off waivers after he was released Saturday. The Niners had hoped that would be the scenario, because they like what Hamdan, the 2006 NFL Europe MVP, has to offer as a developmental prospect who really isn't that far away from being able to step in and perform at the NFL level. Hamdan is a legitimate challenger to Shaun Hill for the No. 3 role as the team gets a better and longer look at him, but he also is at high risk of being plucked off San Francisco practice squad onto another team's 53-man roster once others around the NFL start making changes at quarterback.

FB Zak Keasey: An excellent developmental prospect who probably could contribute to the team right now on special teams and as a backup fullback if he had a little more polish in the latter role. Keasey, who finished the 2005 season on San Francisco's final practice squad, ran with power and nice burst during an extensive stint in San Francisco's preseason finale, picking up 53 yards on 14 carries, with several of those carries coming late in the game on simple dive plays to run out the clock. He also caused a fumble and had two special teams tackles in that game, raising his preseason total to five, which placed second on the team. He'll be on call during the regular season and has a good shot at seeing time on the big roster this year.

OT Tavares Washington: The 49ers had several young fringe offensive linemen competing this summer, and the undrafted rookie from Florida consistently stood out among the crowd. He moved past other young linemen who were either brought in this year or spent time on the team's practice squad, and while he's not quite ready to take a backup role among a talented San Francisco line, the 320-pounder may be ready to push for that status after further seasoning.

WR CJ Brewer: It's really no surprise the 49ers opted to bring back Brewer for further development rather than 2005 seventh-round draft pick Marcus Maxwell, who still had practice squad eligibility remaining. The only player on the practice squad to be released during the first NFL roster cutdowns Aug. 27, Brewer is a nice-looking young receiver who displayed some athleticism and good use of his 6-foot-2, 205-pound when shielding defenders away from the football. But his skills are raw and he needs to work on route running and gaining separation from defensive back at the NFL level. An undrafted rookie free agent out of Wyoming, Brewer will get more reps in practice now on the scout team to hone his skills in 11-on-11 situations. With the 49ers' weak depth at receiver, he stands a good chance to break in as soon he develops his skills at the NFL level.

LB Bobby Iwuchukwu: Some thought Iwuchukwu had shown the 49ers enough to make the final roster, and he probably was one of the last two of three players released by the team. An undrafted free agent out of Purdue, Iwuchukwu has good all-around skills to play the edge in the 49ers' 3-4 system. He had 10 tackles during the preseason and impressed to the point that he was running with the second unit on an injury-depleted linebacker corps by the end of the preseason.

DT Damane Duckett: Duckett barely has practice squad eligibility remaining, having played in six games with the New York Giants in 2004 and eight with the Giants last season. A big (6-foot-6, 313 pounds) body on the inside, Duckett could give the Niners some of the bulk they are lacking in their defensive interior and was picked up because of his NFL experience and the fact the Niners could use a spot on their practice squad to keep him on their roster. An undrafted free agent out of East Carolina, Duckett spent part of his rookie season with Carolina's practice squad before joining the Giants, who released him this year on Saturday's final cutdown.

LB Jeremy Mincey: Mincey was a sixth-round draft pick by New England this year out of Florida who couldn't make the cut with the three-time defending AFC East champions. Bringing great size (6-foot-3, 260 pounds) at linebacker, Mincey also has excellent speed for that size, having run a 4.78-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. He is something of a tweener who also can play defensive end and could contribute on the edge in the 49ers' 3-4 system once he gains some pro experience.

WR Cory Rodgers: A fourth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers this year, the 49ers were surprised to see the 6-foot, 186-pound prospect available on the waiver wire. He lacks quality speed but is an excellent prospect at kick returner who would have been asked back to the Green Bay practice squad had the Niners not grabbed him. A junior who came out early in the draft, he is a promising prospect who may get a chance to dent the 53-man roster this year as he develops his skills at the pro level. Rodgers had 150 receptions in three seasons at TCU, leading the team in that department for the second consecutive season last year. He also rushed for five touchdowns last year and averaged 30.3 yards per return on kickoffs and 15.3 on punts. He tied for first in the nation with two kick returns for touchdowns.


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