The San Francisco 49ers head into their second preseason game looking to further sort through the various question marks on their roster. The 49ers have a pretty good idea of how most of their roster will sort out. As we see in the 53-man roster projections, a majority of the roster is just about set, with some question marks remaining as they sort through the last 15 or so players.
As we attempt to figure out who will make the 53-man roster, it helps to know who is eligible for the practice squad. After repeated requests, now seemed as good a time as any to provide a list of all 49ers players eligible for the team's practice squad in 2013. I will update this list after the team cuts down to 75 players, and then again when they cut down to 53 players. After the cutdown to 53 players, released players will need to clear waivers before they can sign with the practice squad. Here is a brief explanation of the practice squad rules.
The first group of players are rookies. They are automatically eligible as they have never been in the league, and have never been on a practice squad.
A player is ineligible for the practice squad if he has accrued a season of NFL experience. A player accrues a season of NFL experience for each season in which he was on full pay status for six or more regular season games, with time on the NFI list excluded. Jewel Hampton was on the 49ers NFI list for most of the season, before spending the final five regular season games on the 53-man roster. Given the six game requirement, I have to think the 49ers front office knew what they were doing in waiting until there were five games left in the regular season.
The 49ers kept much of their 2012 draft class inactive last season. The collective bargaining agreement states that any player who was on the game-day Active list for fewer than nine regular season games during accrued seasons is practice squad eligible. That means four more players eligible for the practice squad.
The 49ers had four players who were rookies heading into last season, and spent the 2012 on either the 49ers practice squad, or another practice squad. Cam Johnson and Tony Jerod-Eddie were both activated before the end of the season, but again, they did not reach the six game mark required for an accrued season, and thus retain practice squad eligibility.
A player is allowed to spend two seasons on the practice squad. A third season of practice squad eligibility is allowed "only if the Club by which he is employed that season has at least 53 players on its Active/Inactive List during the entire period of his employment." As I read it, that would seem to mean that if the 49ers release a player at some point, they have to fill the roster spot with one of these kinds of players.
There you have it. I'm pretty positive this covers the entire list of practice squad eligible players.