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.
At the conclusion of the 2012 season, the 49ers made no attempts to hide their desire to upgrade the depth along the defensive line. A late-season injury to all-world defensive end Justin Smith really stifled the effectiveness of the defensive line to close out 2012. Combined with the expected losses of nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga and backup Ricky Jean Francois, the defensive line was due for a makeover.
One of the first moves the team made this offseason was signing the former fifth overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft, Glenn Dorsey. Dorsey, still just 27 years old, has been labeled a bust after failing to live up to the expectations that come with being a top-five pick. But was it entirely his fault?
The Chiefs drafted Dorsey as a 3-technique defensive tackle out of LSU, and he absolutely dominated for a year. Then, in 2009, a regime change in Kansas City saw the Chiefs switch from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4. Dorsey was moved from the 3-tech to the 5-tech; this changed his responsibilities, nearly nullifying his explosiveness and limiting his ability to create havoc along the line.
Dorsey still had a couple of solid seasons with the Chiefs. In 2010, he finished fourth on the team in tackles with 69, including two sacks and four tackles for loss. In 2011, Dorsey again finished fourth on the team in tackles with 62, but he had zero sacks and only one tackle for loss.
Last season Dorsey managed to start just four games, tallying seven total tackles and one for a loss. Injuries kept him on the sidelines in all but those four games. He missed several games early in the season with a knee injury and was placed on injured reserve after a calf injury sustained in week nine.
What to expect in 2013
The word out of Niners camp is that Dorsey will compete with third-year vet Ian Williams for the starting nose tackle spot. At 6-1 and around 300 lbs, Dorsey doesn't have the typical size you'd expect from a 3-4 nose tackle. Good news for him is the 49ers don't run a typical 3-4 defense. (See the 4-3 Under breakdown here.)
Dorsey will also get plenty of opportunities to spell defensive ends Ray McDonald and Justin Smith. Dorsey actually played Smith's position at LSU and that seemed to work out quite well for him. Dorsey will likely line up at nose tackle when the Niners are lined up in the base under defense and move to a more traditional 4-3 defensive tackle role in the nickel and dime defenses which the 49ers operate out of the most.
Ultimately, this signing could be one of the more underrated signings of the offseason. The 49ers get a young, experienced veteran capable of playing multiple roles along the line. To boot, the 49ers and Jim Tomsula are going to put Dorsey in the best position to succeed and hopefully reach the potential that once made him a top-five pick.
Odds of making the roster
Dorsey signed a two-year; $6 million contract this offseason with a guaranteed $2.285 million guaranteed signing bonus. Barring something completely unforeseen, it's extremely likely Dorsey will be part of the roster in 2013.