49ers OLB Diyral Briggs: Future impact player?

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Over the three-plus years I've been operating Niners Nation, we've had a whole assortment of random little known players (outside the Bay Area) pass through town that develop huge fan bases. Some of the recent batch has included guys like Thomas Clayton and Bear Pascoe. They give us a reason to get excited, whether it be on the field or off, and before long they've passed through town as but a fleeting memory.

Diyral Briggs is a guy who is not well known outside the Bay Area, but has certainly developed his share of fans here at Niners Nation. And yet, he's never really reached that Thomas Clayton/Bear Pascoe level of support. That's not to say he doesn't get support, but it' never quite been the irrational level that is always fun to see.

I remember a game last preseason in which Takeo Spikes was talking about Briggs on the sideline. Briggs was solid last preseason, but was never able to leap too far up the depth chart. He spent the first half of the season on the practice squad, and after being elevated to the 53-man roster in late October, he registered 4 special teams sacks.

While that's not exactly spectacular, some recent comments from Matt Maiocco following last week's minicamp had me wondering if we'll see more from Briggs in 2010:

50-Diyral Briggs: Worked at left outside linebacker behind Ahmad Brooks. When Manny Lawson showed up for minicamp, Briggs was pushed down the depth chart a bit. It was a strong offseason for Briggs, who could be a candidate for the most-improved list. He looks stronger and quicker. He made his mark late in the final practice when he batted down an Alex Smith pass in his face. He had good coverage to tip away pass for Delanie Walker in two-minute drill that Taylor Mays was able to gather in for the interception.

Training camp kicks off in just over a month. It does not appear as though Manny Lawson will be holding out, which means Briggs gets bumped down the depth chart. Given the strong potential that Lawson walks next spring, the team has to be hoping Briggs can step up this year. If Ahmad Brooks can step up with some consistency, Briggs could at the very least move himself into the 2011 three-man rotation of outside linebackers. Whether that will actually happen remains to be seen.

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