For those of you new to the NFL, along with 53 rostered “active” players, each team also carries ten practice squad players; players who, by name, only practice and are not eligible to play on Sundays (or Mondays or Thursdays). The 49ers’ 2018 initial practice squad has some players who fans thought might make the 53-man active roster. So far they have signed nine of their ten players, with the tenth target known, but not yet signed. The nine-signed players all spent the offseason in the 49ers camp.
If you need an explanation of NFL Practice Squad rules, David Fucillo has a good rundown over on Niners Nation
Lets take a look.
Nick Mullens QB
Mullens had a solid preseason for the 49ers after spending the 2017 season on their practice squad. Signed last year as a free agent rookie out of Southern Mississippi, some fans called for Mullens to be the backup quarterback while cutting C.J. Beathard. The fact that Mullens made it through the waiver wire shows Kyle Shanahan made the right decision by keeping Beathard active over Mullens. Aside from his great preseason work, Mullens has no NFL experience and barring an injury (or possibly even with an injury) he’ll be running the scout team offense every practice.
Jeff Wilson Jr. RB
A rookie FA signing after this year’s draft, Wilson beat out a couple of other rookie FA signings to stay on as the teams practice squad running back. He had a very productive four-year career at North Texas where he rushed for 3,205 yards and 32 touchdowns while he caught 70 balls for another 507 yards and 2 TDs. His NFL claim to fame so far was scoring a touchdown against the Chargers in week four of this preseason. I wouldn’t expect him to get activated this season, even if another 49ers back goes down with an injury.
Steven Dunbar Jr. WR
Another rookie FA signing after the 2018 draft, Dunbar stands 6-3 and weighs in at 202 pounds; a big-bodied receiver for the 49ers’ coaching staff to develop. His signing meant no Aaron Burbridge on the 49ers practice squad this season. In college Dunbar caught 180 balls for 2,430 yards and 11 touchdowns over four years, with his senior 2017 campaign accounting for 76/1070/3 of those stats. Expect him to spend the full 2018 season on the 49ers practice squad.
Ross Dwelley TE
A UDFA signing out of the University of San Diego, Dwelley is a pass-catching tight end. His last two years in college his stat lines were: 70/843/10 and 50/663/10 in 11 and 10 games respectively, nearly averaging a TD per game over his final two collegiate seasons. Dwelley is someone who may develop into either Garrett Celek’s or George Kittle’s replacement should the team end up losing one of them after this season or next. This year though, he will be lining up against the 49ers defense every day.
Najee Toran OL
While playing at UCLA, this FA rookie signing was assigned to the Honorable Mention All-Pac 12 team after his senior season. He started the first game of the season as a true freshman, and then spent time the following year as a backup along the OL, DL and played special teams, before starting along the OL his junior and senior years. It has been suggested that Toran could be being coached up as a center, although he projects out to more of a guard in the NFL. Having some type of insurance behind Weston Richburg (besides the untested guard Mike Person) wouldn’t be a bad idea, even if it was on the practice squad. Toran is a total developmental player who was a successful part of a pretty good UCLA offensive line in 2017.
Niles Scott DL
At 6-3 and 295 pounds, this UDFA out of Frostburg State projects out to a nose tackle in the NFL, a position the 49ers are rather deep in. There is plenty of talent behind presumptive starter Earl Mitchell, so Scott has a long way to earning an active roster spot. Over his four years of playing at Frostburg State, Scott amassed 43 tackles for a loss and 25.5 sacks. This is a player the 49ers coaching staff will be coaching up to earn a roster spot in 2019.
Pita Taumoepenu LB
“Pita T.,” as many fans know him, was maybe the biggest surprise to not make the 53 man roster. Rumor has it that he had offers to join other teams’ practice squads and turned them down to remain in San Francisco. Selected out of Utah in the sixth round of John Lynch’s first draft, Taumoepenu although he spent 2017 with the 49ers, suited up for only two games and saw zero field time. He is fast, having run a 4.67 40-yard dash at the scouting combine and showed some real raw talent in the preseason. Taumoepenu is a candidate to be activated onto the 53 man roster at some point this season, either from lack of success from other players or injury.
Emmanuel Moseley CB
After battling for a back up slot cornerback role, this 2018 UDFA out of Tennessee finds himself on the practice squad instead of fellow undrafted free agent Tavarus McFadden. He has good speed, clocking a 4.42 40-yard dash at the scouting combine. He is a great stash for next season. If he can smooth out his change of direction movements he could end up being a backup on the 2019 49ers roster.
Tyvis Powell DB
Originally a UDFA by Seattle out of Ohio State, Powell played in three games for the 49ers last season and registered four special-teams tackles. He transitioned from cornerback to safety and he was backing up Jaquiski Tartt for most of the preseason. This is another player who could find himself on the 53 man roster at some point this season. He has great versatility and experience in the NFL. Should one of the 49ers DB go down with an injury this season, expect them to activate Powell.
Zach Golditch OL
An UDFA out of Colorado State, Golditch spent the offseason with the Los Angeles Chargers. A 6-6 guard, Golditch survived the movie theater shooting in Aurora, Colorado after being shot in the neck. The 49ers coaching staff must have liked what they saw on Thursday when they saw him play for the Chargers. Although he projects as a guard, he played some tackle for the Chargers as well. It seems that Shanahan and company are trying to collect young offensive linemen who offer some versatility.
You can follow Travis on Twitter here!
Stay tuned to 49ersHub for more great content!