The 2010 49er’s secondary will probably open the season with the same top 5 players as last year: Dashon Goldson, Michael Lewis, Nate Clements, and Shawntae Spencer as the starters, and Tarell Brown as the nickel back. Dre Bly could arguably be considered one of last year’s top 5 DBs, but he was the sixth DB while Clements was healthy, and even though he then supplanted Brown as the starter after Brown replaced Clements, we’ll leave this hi-steppin’, hi-falutin’, heaved off the squad hot dog in Mark Roman’s backyard drowning some brewskis and talking about the time they used to play in the NFL.
It’s a fairly decent bunch, failing against only 3 teams in 2009 (GB, Houston, and Atlanta), though Lewis is a liability in pass coverage and one concussion away from Palookasville. Hopefully, Reggie Smith, Taylor Mays, or Curtis Taylor, the surprisingly decent 7th round pick from the 2009 draft, can take over if Lewis should go dancing with the stars. Those in the blogosphere (hint: Unca_Chuck) still blathering about moving Clements to safety should just stop that nonsense right now. We have safeties. The CB situation, however, is not nearly so comfortable.
Behind the Big Three of Clements, Spencer, and Brown are some 7th round/UDFA unknowns and a Who Dat list of guys who did not need a U-haul to bring their Resumes to 4949 Centennial Blvd. I’d say the glove compartment might have done the trick. Karl Paymah (5 year vet), Will James (10 year vet), and Keith Smith (6 year vet) are the Dats. Phillip Adams (7th round), Tramaine Brock (UDFA), Patrick Stoudamire (UDFA), and LeRoy Vann (UDFA) are the unknowns.
I would imagine we will keep at least two of the Dats to have some experienced players ready to step in if needed. Probably Paymah and James, since we lured them in as FAs. Smith, on the other hand, drifted onto the squad late last year just in time to be the guy who gave up the game deciding pass reception in the tragic Seattle loss. One play, especially for a CB, does not usually define a career or earn a ticket out of town, but who wants a Who Dat who wears a “who’s he?” avatar that reminds whomever of a painful moment in Whoville? Plus his name is Smith. We already have maxed out our quota of Smiths on the team. No chance for this guy.
All the unknowns have Practice Squad eligibility, so I’m sure we’ll keep at least one or two safely stashed there, leaving one or two more to make the roster and grab a spot on Kurt Schottenheimer’s Special Teams unit. This leaves one of the unknowns looking for work elsewhere at cut down time. The obvious choice is Brock. And the 49er brain trust has already decided his fate by issuing him Mark Roman’s old uniform number (as astutely pointed out in Tuesday’s “Comments” by NoFear, the blogosphere’s grizzled vet from Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and a long, long, way, way, long time pointer-outer expert). This uniform number (26) will be issued henceforth only to no-chance training camp fodder fellows.
At last, we have chaffed the wheat, milled the kernels, and sifted the flour to produce our pre-season watchables for today: Vann, Adams, and Stoudamire. Vann will make the roster if he can return punts or kick offs better than Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams, but probably not because he also plays CB. Ergo, look for Stoudamire and Adams to battle it out for the 53rd, and final, roster spot, and the loser going to the Practice Squad.
No matter what happens, though, everybody will be gluing on Vann and rooting for him to make the team. He already has one of the all time best Youtube highight videos, by a long shot. “5, 4, 3, 2, 1”. If you are one of the few remaining 49er fans who have not seen this guy’s sensational feats, here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4NvCMMHXgg.