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49ers keep four quarterbacks on roster for regular season
Posted: Monday September 06, 1999 12:38 AM
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) -- On a day the 49ers cut 18 players to get down to the 53-player limit, the biggest questions surrounded two players they kept: backup quarterbacks Jim Druckenmiller and Steve Stenstrom.
It was widely assumed that either Druckenmiller, the team's maligned first-round pick from two years ago, or Stenstrom, a free agent signee, would be released in Sunday's final cutdown with the survivor joining Steve Young and Jeff Garcia as the team's quarterbacks.
Instead, the 49ers opted to keep all four quarterbacks, cutting themselves short in such areas as the offensive line, where they have nine players instead of the normal complement of 10, and wide receivers, where they have four instead of five.
"It is unusual to carry four quarterbacks," coach Steve Mariucci said. "Right now, that's how it is.
"I don't know if it's possible to do that the entire season. If you end up getting banged up in one position or you have a certain need that you have to fill and, you know, you've got a lot of guys sitting watching Steve Young work, then you've got to rethink that whole thing."
Druckenmiller, whose stock has dropped steadily since being drafted in 1997, said he just wants a chance to prove himself but doesn't know if he'll ever get that chance in San Francisco.
"Do I feel like I was given an opportunity? No, I don't," Druckenmiller said. "But does it matter what I think? It really doesn't matter what I think because I'm not the one in charge. It's up to the 49ers.
"I just want an opportunity. If it can't be here, then it's got to be somewhere else."
Mariucci left open the possibility that the roster could change quickly, either through a possible waiver claim or even a trade.
"We're working around the clock to alter or improve the roster," Mariucci said.
In reaching the roster limit, the 49ers waived wide receivers Morris Anderson, Na'il Benjamin, and Damon Griffin; defensive tackles Shane Bonham, Curtis Eason, Matt Keneley, Dennis O'Sullivan, and Angel Rubio; linebackers Kory Minor, Brian Smith, Vernon Strickland and Joe Wesley, cornerbacks Kelly Herndon, Kelly Malveaux and Wasswa Serwanga, safety Toya Jones, tackles Dwayne Ledford and Chris Ruhman.
Bonham was a six-year veteran and Minor, the team's seventh-round pick, was the lone draft choice not to make the team.
San Francisco also activated defensive end Chike Okeafor, a third-round pick, from the active/non-football injury list. Okeafor has yet to practice with the team because of a back injury sustained in a pickup basketball game prior to training camp.
Druckenmiller, starting his third NFL season, was drafted out of Virginia Tech but hasn't developed into the team's quarterback of the future. He didn't throw a pass last season as the 49ers' third quarterback and general manager Bill Walsh has disparaged his skills.
A pure dropback passer, Druckenmiller has had a hard time adjusting to the West Coast offense, which emphasizes quarterback mobility and improvisation.
Mariucci conceded salary cap concerns were a factor in the decision to retain Druckenmiller, whose release would mean a $450,000 hit.
"I don't know if it was the chief consideration, but it was a consideration," Mariucci said. "Really, every man on this 53-man roster, his salary cap number came into the equation. Every penny was counted and accounted for."
Druckenmiller appears to have dropped to fourth on the depth chart.
Mariucci was asked if the 49ers organization was doing a disservice to Druckenmiller by failing to release him so he could at least get a shot with another team that perhaps used a system better suited for him.
"We're making in some ways a business decision with Druck, what's best for the team right now," he said. "You always have to do that. It's part of the business.
"This scenario may change as we go. If that's unfair to any one person, that's how the business goes sometimes, I guess."
Meanwhile, the question over who is No. 2 behind Young remains unsettled.
Garcia, on an NFL roster for the first time after starring in the Canadian Football League for five years, had the early edge but a terrible outing in San Francisco's exhibition finale Friday night has raised questions.
Mariucci said Garcia remains a possibility but Stenstrom also is under consideration. Stenstrom started seven games for Chicago last season, going 1-6. He also played at Stanford under Walsh and knows the West Coast system well.
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