Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I've been puzzled more often than naught when it comes to how the San Francisco 49ers handle special teams players. They've let some very key players go in the past, and me being the alarmist that I am, I was worried each and every time. But the 49ers always seemed to pick up the pieces and have excellent coverage units anyway.
Now here's the question: are they just getting lucky and hitting on all the right players to fill each void left, or do the 49ers just have that good a scheme that they can plug in virtually anyone? I think it might be somewhere in the middle. Players like Kassim Osgood and C.J. Spillman don't end up in San Francisco on accident, but I also think it's about time I stop overreacting when they don't make it.
However, it's worth noting that both Osgood and Spillman were very good in 2013. Osgood, in particular, was great on punt and kick return coverage. Spillman was the king of angles, but when he did manage to miss a tackle, Osgood was basically always there, and he's quite a bit faster than Spillman so oftentimes he made it to the ball-carrier first, as well.
Osgood doesn't provide much value as a wide receiver -- he caught a single pass for 17 yards last season -- and is exclusively a special teams player. It's hard to really give a "season review" of that. He played a lot, made some great tackles, probably prevented multiple touchdowns and generally did everything he's needed to do. As to whether or not he'll be kept around, I think it's important that folks don't consider him a wide receiver, but rather a special teams player.
Why he might improve:
The 49ers moved on from Anthony Dixon this offseason, and there's going to be some new bodies in there on special teams. Osgood could always be counted on to take on an even greater role, and there he could flourish. But as for improving on, say, offense? I don't see him taking any snaps at wide receiver, so I don't think there's an avenue for that. But he could always make some headlines for his special teams play next season.
Why he might regress:
Osgood could regress for a lot of reasons, but most of them boil down to him not getting as much playtime. Whether that's due to his regression or the 49ers just trying to work in more younger guys, that's anybody's guess. He's definitely getting up there in years as well, and a lot of is game relies on his speed, so that could definitely be a negative factor as well.
Odds of making the roster:
Aside from those who kick footballs, I'd say Osgood as about the second-highest chance of retaining a roster spot among special teamers. Meaning, I'd put his odds below that of C.J. Spillman, but still relatively high. It will look like the 49ers are keeping an absurd number of wide receivers on the roster next season, but I continue to believe that Osgood shouldn't be classified as such. The general unpredictable nature of the 49ers special teams plans means he's far from a sure thing, but I still think it's a greater than 50 percent chance Osgood is here next season.