Center Jeremy Newberry is pain-free for the first time in a while after undergoing microfracture surgery on his right knee late last season. Newberry is hoping to be cleared to begin on-field work for the start of training camp.
If Newberry is healthy it could be a big lift to an offensive line that struggled last season. The 49ers feel good about left tackle Jonas Jennings, who missed 13 games last season with shoulder surgery. Larry Allen was signed this off-season and will start at left guard.
That means Justin Smiley is the leading candidate to start at right guard, though David Baas and Eric Heitmann will also compete for playing time. Heitmann and Baas will also see some work at center as insurance policies for Newberry. Adam Snyder, who played decently at left tackle late last season, and Kwame Harris will compete for the job at right tackle. TEAM NEEDS
1. Pass rusher: The 49ers have already lost Andre Carter to the Redskins through free agency, and OLB Julian Peterson signed with Seattle. The 49ers need to find players to put heat on the quarterback, whether they are DEs or OLBs in the 49ers' 3-4 scheme.
2. Defensive back: The 49ers added CB Walt Harris through free agency, but they're not through at this position. Harris is ideally suited to be a nickel back. The 49ers need another good CB. They also are in the market for a free safety to take over for Mike Adams, who started 10 games last season and struggled.
3. Tight end: Antonio Bryant and Arnaz Battle appear set as the starting receivers, but the 49ers need to find some help in the passing game from the tight end position. Eric Johnson is expected to return after missing all of last season with a foot injury, but they need to find someone who is not so injury-prone to be a factor as a pass catcher.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
QB Ken Dorsey.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
S Mike Adams.
Copyright (C) 2006 The Sports Xchange. All Rights Reserved.