49ers roster, 90-in-90 breakdowns: Parys Haralson

Ezra Shaw

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today we focus on all-world linebacker Parys Haralson.

Here at Niners Nation, we're presenting a series called "90-in-90". We'll be looking at every player on the 49ers offseason roster, one player per post, from now until the start of training camp. Consider it a countdown to football!

Parys Haralson is a guy who it seems has somehow been both overrated and underrated over the course of his 49ers career. He came out of nowhere to lead the 49ers with eight sacks in 2008. Since then, his sack numbers have decreased each season and he has generally been viewed as more of a run defense option.

2012 was a lost season for Haralson as he was placed on injured reserve before Week 1. In March, word got out that Haralson had restructured his contract. He had previously been on the books for a 2013 cap hit of $2.87 million. Given that it was the final year of his contract, a restructuring or a release was inevitable.

Prior to 2012, Haralson had been a solid enough veteran, and 2011 was a very obvious transition year for the 49ers at outside linebacker. Aldon Smith spent 2011 getting his playing time almost exclusively in the nickel as he learned the rest of the linebacker's role. He was expected to take over Haralson's starting job in 2012, which he did. Haralson wasn't helped by the injury, but Smith was going to take Haralson's job even if he had been healthy.

What to expect in 2013

Since Haralson missed out on 2012, I decided to skip over whether he would improve or regress. If Haralson makes the roster, he would likely operate as the primary backup outside linebacker while Corey Lemonier learns the job. Lemonier is looking at a similar learning curve to Aldon Smith, so he is likely to focus on the pass rush side of things his rookie year. The 49ers need an all-around outside linebacker in case Smith or Brooks gets hurt. If Haralson makes the roster, it would seem like he is the guy the team expects to plug in if injury warrants.

Haralson would basically be a stop-gap measure. We don't know where he really stands at this point given the year off and a year older. I can't imagine the 49ers would be expecting a lot from him, as he would be filling a role similar to Clark Haggans last year.

Odds of making the roster

The contract restructuring would seem to be a mark in his favor, but with all sorts of young talent in Lemonier, Darius Fleming and Cam Johnson, Haralson is in for a significant roster battle. It's a bit of a cop-out, but I think his odds are 50-50. His performance this offseason and into the preseason will matter, but it could be as much about whether or not Lemonier, Fleming or Johnson take a sizable step forward. If one or more of them do, Haralson could end up as one of the final roster cuts at the end of training camp.

For now, I am going to predict he sticks around one more season. I think after seeing Aldon Smith deal with wear and tear last year, they would want a proven commodity behind him. And all three youngsters have some work to do to prove they can be that primary backup outside linebacker. Personally, I hope one or more of that trio shows me something in camp, but we'll see.

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