Earlier this month, I ran a feature called "The 49ers Anti-Starting Lineup." One of the featured players on that squad was wide receiver Dominique Zeigler. The second year receiver out of Baylor spent all of 2007 on the practice squad and appeared to still be stuck in a numbers game as we head into 2008.
When I was projecting the 49ers 53-man roster I never even factored him into the roster. When I moved onto the practice squad projection I didn't include him there either, figuring there were better, fresher options. And I probably would not have thought about him again until he was cut, which I naturally assumed would take place.
However, as is the case in training camp, some comments have me considering whether I should be singing a different tune. Over at the 49ers scout.com website, Craig Massei had some interesting comments about Zeigler:
And then there’s lanky Dominique Zeigler, who appears to have added some thickness to his frame, particularly from the waist down. Zeigler, an undrafted rookie last year who made a nice impression while spending the season on San Francisco’s practice squad, made a fine leaping catch while tiptoeing the sideline to end the morning session, then got open and snagged everything that came his way during the course of the afternoon, including a couple of passes deep down the field. If he keeps doing those kind of things, he’s a youngster that has to be considered.
Dominique Zeigler, who made a highlight-reel catch on a weekly basis on the practice squad last season, has gotten off to a strong start. The 6-3, 185-pounder can really extend himself to make grabs.
Now, every training camp, some youngster makes a name for himself ever so briefly and becomes the player du jour for fans. Last season, we had Marcus Maxwell and Thomas Clayton. In the case of Maxwell, he had a big game in the NFL Europe title game, which naturally got me excited. Clayton got us in a huff when he was the leading rusher last preseason.
So, what of Dominique Zeigler? Considering the team has been going without pads, we certainly have to take any performance to date with a grain of salt. A plus to a strong start is that he is hopefully in the minds of the coaches and thus they might pay a little closer attention to him. However, until he produces during a game, it's all mere speculation, right?
Barring multiple injuries, I don't see how Zeigler can possibly make the 53-man roster. Based on Mike Nolan's comments yesterday, it's pretty unlikely that the team will carry 6 wide receivers. So that battle for spots 4 and 5 would be between Jason Hill, Ashley Lelie and Josh Morgan. Dominique Zeigler does not factor into that race.
However, a return to the practice squad is not out of the realm of possibility. He spent his entire first season on the practice squad so he remains eligible for a second year on the squad. It's probably not the wildest and earth shattering suggestion in the world to suggest Zeigler might end up back on the practice squad. Zeigler's situation is a good news/bad news type of thing for the 49ers and their fans. The bad news is that there is a numbers crunch and Zeigler just isn't good enough to break through that crunch. The good news is that three years ago, Zeigler probably would have gotten significant playing time because the team was so bad. So, there's your silver lining.