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53-Man Roster Gets to Work


Fullback Zak Keasey first joined the 49ers in late December of 2005 but the 2006 practice squad player and 2007 special teams standout didn't get to be part of a 49ers team photo until this morning.

Keasey joined the other 52 active players for the photo, which under head coach Mike Nolan has traditionally taken place on the first Monday of the regular season.

"It's the first team photo I've had the chance to be a part of," said Keasey who plans to eventually send the photo to his mom. "It's definitely an honor and a privilege, and I'm excited to be a part of this."

Keasey beat out Moran Norris for the roster spot, and a starting position at fullback with the ball club.

"Having the opportunity to move into a starting spot is definitely an honor and a lot of responsibility," said Keasey. " I'm looking forward to taking advantage of it and helping the team out as much as possible."

Other first-time team photo takers included this year's rookies – Kentwan Balmer, Chilo Rachal, Reggie Smith, Cody Wallace, and Josh Morgan.

"I'm real excited about it," said Smith. "It's always been a dream to be able to play in the NFL and it's finally coming here. I guess taking the picture is really going to finalize it for me."

The rookies had probably the roughest time this weekend dealing with the cuts. Although five of the six 2008 draft picks made the active roster, it was their first real taste of how rough the NFL can be.

"It was real hard this weekend just seeing a lot of guys, especially one of my teammates from college (DJ Parker) get let go," said Morgan. "Seeing how hard they worked and how much you put into it, and then you don't get to live your dreams. That's why every day you have got to be thankful to wake up and thank god for the situation and the blessings he put in your life. I kind of noticed even how it was back in the OTA's when you were seeing guys coming in and out. It was just tough. I don't think you could ever get used to it. I see why they say, 'Never get comfortable.'"

Now that the 53-man roster is set, it was time to move on and prepare for Sunday's season opener against the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers did just that with an afternoon bonus practice on Monday, a day that usually is reserved for review of Sunday's game.

"To know this is our core group of guys and to start to mesh and get ready for the regular season is definitely exciting," said Keasey. "We've got an extra day to work out the kinks and to get ready for the regular season, and it's important that we take advantage of it and get good work done."

Tackle Jonas Jennings and guard Adam Snyder got a chance to shake off some rust after missing the last two preseason games.

"It was great to be back out there," said Snyder. "I thought it was good seeing how the ankle held up in practice."

Snyder and David Baas both worked at left guard, while Tony Wragge stayed at his position of right guard.

Nolan expects to have everyone back by Wednesday, but he did opt to rest Morgan, nose tackle Aubrayo Franklin, linebacker Parys Haralson, and safety Keith Lewis for one more practice. Lewis and Morgan missed the game after being out all last week with an illness. Franklin suffered a knee sprain in the final game against San Diego, while Haralson suffered a shoulder injury.

Lewis and Morgan ran sprints with the 49ers strength and conditioning staff while the team practiced.

Nolan said he still hasn't decided on his starting receiver opposite Isaac Bruce. He did say he expects all five receivers to be active for Sunday's game against Arizona.

The 49ers also elected team captains today. Running back Michael Robinson was named special teams captain, center Eric Heitmann was named offensive captain, and linebacker Joe Staley was named defensive captain. Cornerback Walt Harris, who is the 49ers player rep, will also be a captain for the season. While those players will be captains for the season and wear a "C" patch on their uniforms, Nolan will still pick game MVPs from each contest to handle the coin toss. The season captains will handle the coin toss this Sunday.

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