49ers want to see what OT Pat Estes can do in NFLE
The 10 young players on the 49ers roster who have been allocated to NFL Europe in 2006 have learned which teams they will be playing for this spring while the rest of the Niners go through an offseason program a continent away. Here’s where those players are headed in Europe, along with several others who spent time with the 49ers but no longer are affiliated with the team and have joined NFL Europe rosters as free agents.
The NFL Europe league office began the process of forming the league’s 2006 rosters on Friday by assigning 100 allocated players across its six teams. Once that step was complete, the league’s head coaches drafted from the remaining pool of designated players from the NFL’s 32 teams. The six NFLE teams then rounded out their rosters by drafting free agents, many of whom are former NFL players not currently under contract with any team.
With the addition of those free agents, each of NFLE’s six teams will have at least one player on its roster that began training camp last summer with the 49ers.
Here’s a team-by-team look at the familiar 49ers faces to watch for when the league kicks off its 14th season on March 18:
AMSTERDAM ADMIRALS: Tight end Trent Smith, a veteran of two NFL seasons with the 49ers and Baltimore Ravens, started two games and played in five for the 49ers in 2005 before spending the final seven weeks on San Francisco’s practice squad. The big knock on Smith, who once led the nation’s tight ends in receiving at Oklahoma, is that he needs experience in game situations after his first two seasons with the Ravens were wiped out by injuries. He should get that here. Running back Zak Keasay, a rookie out of Princeton signed by the 49ers earlier this month, also will be suiting up for the Admirals.
BERLIN THUNDER: Offensive tackle Patrick Estes, a seventh-round pick by the 49ers in 2005, saw limited action in seven games with the team last season. Estes, who was a backup tight end in college at the University of Virginia, is making the conversion to tackle in the pro ranks, and playing with the Thunder should give Estes the extensive game action he needs to develop at the position.
COLOGNE CENTURIONS: Defensive back Randee Drew, who was with the 49ers in training camp each of the past two years, was picked up by the Centurions as a protected free agent. Drew also played with the Centurions last spring.
FRANKFURT GALAXY: Quarterback Bryson Spinner, who was with the Washington Redskins in 2005, was recently signed by the 49ers. The University or Richmond product was also with the Seattle Seahawks in training camp in 2004. Defensive end Josh Cooper, who played in two games with the 49ers in 2004 and spent the rest of the season on the team’s practice squad, was a first-round pick by the Galaxy in the free-agent draft, and cornerback Joselio Hanson - who started three games at cornerback for the 49ers in 2004 – was a sixth-round pick. Cooper and Hanson both spent time with the 49ers last year before being waived.
HAMBURG SEA DEVILS: Defensive end Scott Scharff spent his entire rookie season on San Francisco’s practice squad in 2005, and the 6-foot-3, 277-pound product will get an opportunity to show his stuff in game action here. Cornerback Rayshun Reed, who started one game and played in seven for the 49ers in 2004, was a second-round pick by the Sea Devils in the free-agent draft. Reed made it deep into training camp before being waived by the 49ers last year.
RHEIN FIRE: The Fire has by far the largest contingent of current San Francisco players with six on its roster. Running back DeCori Birmingham was signed earlier this month by the 49ers to be allocated to NFLE, as was running back Doug Easlik. Offensive tackle Sam Wilder, safety Arnold Parker, offensive tackle Harvey Dahl and offensive guard Tony Wragge are the other 49ers playing with the Fire. Parker was with the 49ers in training camp last year, Wilder spent the entire season on San Francisco’s practice squad and Dahl and Wragge both finished the 2005 season on San Francisco’s 53-man roster.