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.
Earlier this week, the 49ers worked out a deal with center Jonathan Goodwin to renegotiate his contract. Goodwin was the favorite to secure the starting center role, but reducing his cap number by $1.2 million likely just about locked him in to a roster spot, and the starting center role in particular.
Given Goodwin's new contract, now seemed as good a time as any to use the 90-in-90 series to take a look at the man who likely will be Goodwin's primary backup, and potential successor. After the first set of OTAs, Daniel Kilgore is likely going to enter training camp as the top backup along the offensive line. He faces competition from Adam Snyder and Joe Looney, but Kilgore is the favorite.
While Goodwin has spent the offseason workout program doing his own work from home, Kilgore has handled the first team snaps at center. While Snyder would be a bit more versatile across all five positions on the line, Kilgore has been focused in on the interior guard and center positions.
Last season, Pro Football Focus had Kilgore down for 77 total snaps. He was second among backups, behind Leonard Davis who PFF listed with 141. They operated primarily as extra blockers when the 49ers went to their larger personnel packages. Kilgore got plenty of offensive line work in training camp, but once the season started, any primary time with the five-man offensive line came during blowouts.
Why he could improve in 2013
Now that Leonard Davis is out of the picture, Kilgore elevates to the primary backup offensive lineman. He could face a tough battle against Adam Snyder and Joe Looney, but odds seem pretty good that he will secure the role in 2013. Even a strong training camp showing likely caps him behind Goodwin, so improvement remains relative in terms of playing time. Given the time he has now spent behind Goodwin, Boone and Iupati, he is gaining plenty of experience to eventually move into the starting lineup. I suppose he could surpass Goodwin this year, but the odds of that seem kind of long.
Why he could regress in 2013
Any chance for a regression would seem to be more about external forces, as opposed to what Kilgore does. His primary competition is the returning Adam Snyder and second year guard Joe Looney. Snyder's best quality is his versatility along the entire offensive line. He knows the rest of the offensive line, but the addition of Boone, and Colin Kaepernick taking snaps now likely reduces the value of that. Nonetheless, his versatility does benefit him.
Looney spent all last season inactive, so there is a certain element of the unknown. He was projected as an early day two pick last year, but he slipped to the fourth round because of injury. Kilgore is a talented lineman, but maybe Looney just does too much to keep him down. I would be surprised by that, but not shocked.
Odds of making the roster
Kilgore is making the roster, but it is simply a matter of what kind of playing time he gets. I think he ends up in that Leonard Davis primary extra blocker role. Starting center is not entirely out of the question, but it would be an upset following Goodwin's pay cut. Adam Snyder will get plenty of opportunities to compete, but I'm more intrigued by Kilgore vs. Looney in August.