Chris Borland is an unexpected person to become great. But that's what defines many great players, the unknowns. They have an x-factor that they bring to the table because they don't have the size and speed of the expected greats. Chris Borland has an x-factor. Just watch his college game film. The guy is a maniac on the field. Flying in out of nowhere with helmet popping hits, and bringing an excellent spin move to a pass rush. He plays a step ahead of the competition, and this makes him lightning quick on the field. His measurables are lackluster; his 40-yard dash isn't that great, less than six feet tall, and has the second shortest arms of any combine linebacker since 2010. He makes up for these with his instinct, study of game film, and taking into account what he has to make up for, not ignoring it.
The Niners drafted Borland with their fourth pick, in the third round. Nothing exciting for a guy without any star player flare. Except with that pick they drafted the reigning Big10 Defensive Player of the Year, the player with the second most forced fumbles (15) in FBS history, and the only Wisconsin linebacker since 1951 to be named a first-team All-American. That is a little exciting, in fact its pretty damn exciting.
The Niners are looking for an inside linebacker to take the place of injured NaVorro Bowman until he can come back healthy. Big shoes to fill as many regard Bowman as a top three linebacker in the league. A perfect spot for a guy like Borland to come in and shine. The Niners only have backup Michael Wilhoite, and Nick Moody as competition. They are really solid, but not great. Borland could easily win the spot and start. When Bowman comes back Borland can still add a game changing pass rush at inside linebacker, as well as just an all out, physical playing style which he plays with.
NaVorro Bowman has become the player he has as an unexpected, unknown. Drafted out of Penn State in the third round, not expected to be a great player, and nothing close to what he has become. Sounds like a story that Borland is beginning to write up as well. Heck, their last names are even pretty similar, both drafted in the third round, and both from schools in the Big10, eerie. As of this week at mini camp he is behind Patrick Willis taking reps. He has all the on field abilities to succeed and the mentality to do so as well. He may have his chance to shine early on with Bowman out and will be able to show off his stuff quickly. He has a bright future ahead of him, especially playing and learning along side Bowman and Willis, the best inside linebacker tandem in the league.
Chris Borland is a player to watch out for this year on defense. He has a certain something that is very magnetic, making you want to watch more. He plays recklessly, yet his wildness is focused, and controlled. He seems to buzz around the field, always near the ball. His small stature, and short arms, has no effect on his big play and impact. He can do a lot of great things and will be a player who has a bright future ahead of him.