Former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah recently joined NFL.com to provide analysis on a variety of topics, and he opened his time there with a look at the top ten players under 25 (thanks to Virginia9er for the FanShot). The 49ers were well represented as both NaVorro Bowman and Aldon Smith made the list. The 49ers were the only team with two players on the list.
While the 49ers have made some big splashes in free agency, they have done an excellent job of keeping the roster relatively young and fresh. The current 90-man roster has nine players 30 years of age or older. By the time the season starts, the 53-man roster will have approximately eleven or twelve players over 30. Andy Lee and Brandon Jacobs will turn 30 this summer, joining David Akers, Randy Moss, Brian Jennings, Jonathan Goodwin, Justin Smith, Rock Cartwright, Isaac Sopoaga and Carlos Rogers in the 30+ club.
If you scroll through the 49ers roster (you can sort by age), does anybody jump out as a likely candidate for this list next year? Bowman and Smith are strong candidates to return to the list. However, looking at the players 23 and under, it will be tough for guys like Kendall Hunter, A.J. Jenkins, and LaMichael James to move into this kind of list.
One sleeper candidate for next year: Chris Culliver. He was the 49ers third cornerback in 2011 and the team has indicated they would be comfortable with him in the starting lineup. They could be blowing smoke with that, but he was solid as a rookie and will hopefully improve with a full offseason of work. There are a lot of great young players in the NFL, but Culliver could sneak in.