49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

March 16, 2009
Niners short on safeties for first minicamp

As MM reported last week, three 49ers currently under contract - Jonas Jennings, Mark Roman and Isaac Bruce - are not expected to take part in this weekend's minicamp. Four more players will be limited due to lingering injuries from last season. They are: cornerback Shawntae Spencer, who went on injured reserve Oct. 16 with a torn knee ligament; receiver Arnaz Battle, who suffered a nagging foot strain and went on IR on Dec. 13; Ray McDonald, who missed the Oct. 26 game against Seattle with a knee injury and who had offseason surgery on his knee; and safety Michael Lewis, who gutted out 16 starts in 2008 despite an array of ailments, including injuries to his back, elbow, abdomen and knee. I haven't been able to pin down exactly why Lewis will be limited.

Lewis is the only starter among that group, and he plays a position at which the 49ers are already thin. Newcomer Jimmy Williams and second-year player Lewis Baker could see time at strong safety when Lewis isn't practicing.

The 49ers informed Roman that Dashon Goldson will be the new starter at free safety in 2009. Roman has been given permission to seek a trade and will not take part in the minicamp. His agent has said that if Roman can't find a better situation by June, he likely would return to the 49ers. Without Roman, depth at free safety also is a question mark. Williams could see time at that position, too. The 49ers also could test a cornerback -- such as Marcus Hudson - at free safety.

-- Matt Barrows

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MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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