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.
A year ago April, the San Francisco 49ers used a fourth-round pick to select Wake Forest guard Joe Looney in the 2012 NFL Draft. Looney was a talented offensive lineman, but he slipped in the draft because of a Lisfranc injury suffered in the Senior Bowl. He was unable to take part in some Combine drills, and this kind of nagging injury meant teams were left wondering what he would be worth.
Looney started training camp on the PUP list, but within a week he was removed after passing his physical. Although he passed the physical, Looney spent the entire season inactive on game days. That didn't stop him from getting in whatever work he could, as he and practice squad linemen Al Netter and Kenny Wiggins were put through game simulations during pregame warmups.
According to the 49ers, Looney spent his rookie season working at both guard spots and center with the scout team. Obviously that is not the same as in-game action, but it's a learning experience, and one that could prove valuable sooner rather than later.
What to expect in 2013
This is where it gets interesting. I do think Jonathan Goodwin is on the hot seat sufficiently enough that the center position is up for grabs. That being said, Daniel Kilgore would seem to be the favorite to unseat Goodwin, if anybody was going to do so. Last year I read reports that Looney might have been a second round pick without the Lisfranc injury, so it is entirely possible the 49ers could see him leapfrog Kilgore on the depth chart. That being said, my guess is he ends up in that Leonard Davis, extra lineman role. Daniel Kilgore will be the primary backup interior lineman, but Looney will be right behind him, and getting some opportunities when the 49ers go with their particularly heavy formations.
Odds of making the roster
While Looney might not be a lock, he is about as close as one could get. The 49ers do face some interesting decisions with the offensive tackles they have added, but I don't see them squeezing out Looney at this point. He faces a tough battle for playing time, but I think the plan is to develop Looney and Kilgore to basically each move up a spot when the team is ready to replace Jonathan Goodwin.