STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 22: Chris Owusu #81 of the Stanford Cardinal gains forty five yards on an end-around against the Washington Huskies at Stanford Stadium on October 22, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The 49ers are coming down the final stretch of offseason training activities this week, with their final four OTAs of the offseason. Next week they'll host a mandatory three-day minicamp, and then it's into the barren wasteland that is mid-June to the end of July. During that stretch we'll be able to come up with every possible permutation of the 49ers 53-man roster and depth chart.
These offseason activities in May and June probably don't win or lose jobs, but they definitely can shift players around on the bubble heading into training camp. The coaching staff knows players can look excellent in nothing more than helmet, jersey and shorts, and then look average to mediocre once the pads come on and hitting picks up.
One player who will be under the microscope to a certain extent is soon to be former Stanford wide receiver Chris Owusu. There has been chatter that he has looked great in his limited work thus far, although apparently some Stanford observers think he's a bit more of a workout warrior who can look much better in shorts than in games. It is of course worth noting that the extent of his work has been the rookie minicamp because Stanford has not wrapped up their final quarter yet. Owusu cannot be a participant in 49ers activities until then.
Some folks here have been rather excited about Owusu. Whether you think he's a workout warrior or not, the health issues remain significant. I suppose he could never suffer a concussion again and go on to have a great career. Unfortunately, while he may not suffer a catastrophic injury anytime soon, repeated concussions are not exactly a positive sign for his future.
Owusu benefits from his work with Coach Harbaugh prior to this past season and knowledge of some of the things offensive coordinator Greg Roman brings to the table. He would seem to be a prime candidate for the practice squad. However, given his basic knowledge of the offense, he could put together a strong preseason and be tough to sneak through waivers.
The concussions remain a concern. Although Owusu reportedly never had a concussion before his final two seasons at Stanford, he suffered some nasty ones over the course of those two seasons. He says nobody has told him he's at a greater risk by continuing to play, but it would seem to remain a concern. I can't pretend to know more about Owusu's health than Owusu and his doctors. I have my own concerns, but it's up to him to decide the next steps in his professional career.
Aside from the concussion issue, he faces a tough uphill battle at his position. The 49ers have a lot of depth at the wide receiver position heading into training camp. There are question marks within that depth, but there are a lot of bodies that will be battling for playing time in training camp. Owusu faces a tough numbers game to work his way onto the roster.