8 Players Who Might Find Themselves on the SF 49ers' Practice Squad in 2014
The San Francisco 49ers have a stacked roster with very few potential spots available.
The practice squad is an ideal way for a team to hold on to its most promising prospects who just need more seasoning to be ready for the NFL. There are eight coveted spots on the practice squad.
As explained by SBNation, the practice squad rules can be very complex:
- A player is eligible if he does not have an accrued season of NFL experience. Players gain an accrued season by being on the active roster for at least six games.
- If a player has one accrued season, they can still be practice squad eligible if they were on the 45-man active gameday roster for less than nine regular season games.
- A player is deemed to have served a season on the practice squad if he remains on the practice squad for at least three weeks. Players are eligible to be on the practice squad for two seasons.
- Players can be eligible for a third practice squad season if their team maintains no less than 53 players on the active/inactive list at all times.
Let's take a closer look at eight players who are practice squad candidates for the 49ers' upcoming season.
Lawrence Okoye, Defensive End
Lawrence Okoye signed as an unrestricted free agent following the 2013 NFL draft. He is a tremendous athlete, but has very little football experience.
Okoye participated in the 2012 Olympics for Great Britain in the discus. He was extremely impressive at the 2013 scouting combine, which peaked the 49ers' interest.
Okoye did not play in 2013, as a knee injury enabled the 49ers to place him on injured reserve. This benefited both parties, as Okoye was not going to make the roster anyway. Okoye was able to watch the 49ers' defensive line last year and learn as much as he could.
Still very raw, Okoye is an ideal practice squad candidate. His athleticism is not questioned, it's just his fundamental development that needs time to improve.
Kory Faulkner, Quarterback
Kory Faulkner came into camp as the fifth quarterback on the depth chart. In addition to Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert, Faulkner is also behind Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson.
Faulkner was signed by the 49ers as an undrafted free agent out of Southern Illinois. In 2013, he completed 165 of his 272 attempts for 1,997 yards, 18 touchdowns and four interceptions.
The likelihood of Faulkner making the 49ers' roster is extremely remote, but a spot on the practice squad is a very strong possibility.
Al Netter, Offensive Guard
Former Northwestern guard Al Netter joins the 49ers for his third tour of duty. Originally signed as an undrafted free agent in 2012, Netter spent 2012 on the 49ers' practice squad. In 2013, he split time between Tennessee and San Francisco's practice squads.
Netter has good size at 6'6" and 310 pounds. However, with Joe Looney, Adam Snyder and Jonathan Martin all ahead of him, the best Netter can hope for is another stint on the 49ers' practice squad.
Kenneth Acker, Cornerback
Kenneth Acker was selected in the sixth round of the 2014 NFL draft. He was the 180th player taken overall.
In his college days at Southern Methodist, Acker started 38 of the 46 games he played in. He has good speed and athleticism, but needs work to improve his technique.
Acker is currently the eighth cornerback on the 49ers' roster. He is behind Tramaine Brock, Chris Culliver, Jimmie Ward, Perrish Cox, Chris Cook, Daryl Morris and Dontae Johnson.
It is very unlikely that the 49ers will carry more than six or seven cornerbacks, so Acker would need to jump ahead of one or two players in order to make the 49ers' roster.
Derek Carrier, Tight End
Derek Carrier is entering his third NFL season. He was on the Eagles' roster in 2012, but did not play. In 2013, he joined the 49ers but was active for only five games, making him eligible for the practice squad.
Carrier has yet to catch his first NFL pass.
He has an uphill battle to make the 49ers' opening-day roster. He is currently behind Vernon Davis, Vance McDonald and Garrett Celek. In addition, he is competing with Asante Cleveland, an undrafted free agent, for playing time.
The 49ers will carry no more than three tight ends, so barring injury, Carrier's chances are extremely remote.
Carter Bykowski, Offensive Tackle
Carter Bykowski was selected by the 49ers in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. He was the 246th overall pick.
Bykowski spent the 2013 season on the 49ers' practice squad and is destined for a repeat performance. At 6'7" and 306 pounds, Bykowski has the size to be a competent NFL tackle.
The 49ers already have Joe Staley, Anthony Davis, Jonathan Martin and Adam Snyder ahead of him. In addition, right guard Alex Boone is a former tackle and would likely shift over if the need arose.
The 49ers liked Bykowski enough to keep him around last year, and the same could hold true in 2014.
Kaleb Ramsey, Defensive Tackle
Kaleb Ramsey was the 243rd player selected in the recent NFL draft. A seventh-rounder, Ramsey is behind several tackles on the roster and has little chance to make the team.
If Ramsey shows well in training camp, the best he can hope for is a practice squad invitation.
Ramsey is currently behind Glenn Dorsey, Ian Williams, Quinton Dial and Demarcus Dobbs at the nose tackle position. This spot is often removed from the game on obvious passing downs, so the playing time is also limited.
On the outside, Ramsey would need to beat out at least two of the following to have a chance: Justin Smith, Ray McDonald, Tank Carradine, Tony Jerod-Eddie and Dobbs.
Ramsey has potential, but injuries have held him back. As reported by Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle, Ramsey had 36 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. This was the second-highest total at the combine.
Shayne Skov, Inside Linebacker
Shayne Skov is a little too small (6'3", 247 lbs) and also a bit too slow to be an inside linebacker in the NFL. The 49ers signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Say what you want about Skov's deficiencies, but he is simply a football player. He was one of the leaders of a tough Stanford defense and plays with a nonstop motor.
49er head coach Jim Harbaugh is very familiar with Skov, as he recruited him to come to Stanford. If Skov fails to make the 49ers' roster as a linebacker or on special teams, he would be an excellent candidate for the practice squad.
The extra time would give Skov a chance to get bigger and put on some more muscle.