EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't forget to make your predictions for this week's games.
In a rather quiet move today, the 49ers signed WR Dominique Zeigler from the practice squad to the 53-man roster. OT Kirk Barton was waived to make room for Zeigler. If you missed out on the preseason, Zeigler was quite impressive. He finished the preseason 2nd in the league in receptions (15) and 10th in yards (162).
Shortly before the first exhibition game, we did a roster bubble watch spotlight on Zeigler. While Zeigler was very impressive in the preseason, the numbers crunch sent him to the practice squad. The 49ers had 5 wide receivers in Isaac Bruce, Bryant Johnson, Arnaz Battle, Josh Morgan and Jason Hill. Even though Zeigler outperformed most of them, the 49ers were not going to keep a sixth receiver and even a guy like Jason Hill was higher on the pecking order at receiver.
Now that Arnaz Battle is out this week, it's not surprising Zeigler is getting the promotion. All reports indicate he continually impresses on the practice squad. The question now is whether he'll make any impact. Until Battle's injury, Jason Hill was the fifth receiver and he was seeing next to nothing. In fact, before the Seahawks game two weeks ago he had no receptions on the season. Battle's injury may have gotten Zeigler on the roster, but I think Hill is the one who should see the greatest increase in production.
So as the fifth guy, will Zeigler be able to make much out of it? Obviously it's better to be on the 53-man roster than the practice squad. Not even a question. However, with the potential for the offense to get a little more conservative, I'm not sure how often we'll see Zeigler on the field. If he does get on the field, he's got the size to make things happen. At 6'3 he's shown an amazing ability to stretch out and make some impressive catches. He's listed at 185 pounds, but he seems to play bigger than that.
Ideally, Zeigler would make enough of an impact to convince the team to keep him on the active roster through the end of the season. If this season ends up going in the crapper, Zeigler, Morgan and Hill are three guys that need to be completely assessed going forward. The wide receiver position has been a problem since TO left town and it'd be nice to see what the young trio bring to the table. I'm not expecting Zeigler, Morgan and Hill to all be homerun threats, but it'd be nice to have a better idea of what they bring to the table heading into 2009. Let's just up for a nice bit of playing time for Zeigler this Monday and going forward.