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.
The San Francisco 49ers drafted Nick Moody with a sixth round pick in last year's draft. Moody played linebacker his final year at Florida State, having made the switch from safety prior to that season. Although Moody was a linebacker, the general belief from day one was that Moody's ticket to the roster was on special teams.
Moody earned a roster spot, but he quickly became the 49ers first ever "short term" injured reserve player. Moody injured his hand in Week 1, and then spent the next eight weeks on injured reserve. The NFL instituted a short term IR that allowed a player to go on and subsequently be removed at least a couple months later. Moody was inactive his first week back, was active for three weeks, and then was inactive the final three weeks, and the three weeks of the playoffs. In his three weeks of active status, he played 23 special teams snaps in Week 1 against the Packers, 8 special teams snaps Week 12 against Washington, 14 special teams snaps and 10 defensive snaps Week 13 against the Rams, and 10 special teams snaps Week 14 against the Seahawks.
Why he might improve:
He's had a full year to work with linebacker coach Jim Leavitt. Moody has spent most of his playing time on special teams, so it's hard to know what kind of work he's gotten in practice as a linebacker. That will be something I'll track next week at minicamp, and then in July and August at training camp. If he's getting some time there, that does give him some edge over third round pick Chris Borland and UDFA Shayne Skov. He's a big hitter with enough athleticism to handle the linebacker role.
Why he might regress:
It could turn out that he is mostly just a special teams guy. There's no shame in that, and the 49ers have loaded up on inside linebacker talent. Eventually we'll look to see NaVorro Bowman back next to Patrick Willis, but in the meantime, Moody could simply be destined for special teams work. That hurts his roster chances given the versatility of others, but Harbaugh loves his special teams skills. Or at least, he did following the draft.
Odds of making the roster:
Once again, Moody's best shot at a roster spot is on special teams. He is probably going to get some opportunities at linebacker with NaVorro Bowman injured, but the inside linebacker corps features some stiff competition. Michael Wilhoite is likely to enter training camp as the front-runner for Bowman's starting spot. He will face competition from Moody, Borland, and Skov. Moody has a year in the system, but I just don't know if he's going to be able to move far enough up to get a legit chance to contribute as a regular season linebacker. At this point, he's a strong bubble guy. The 49ers have a lot of special teams types, so it will be interesting to see if he can work his way into the mix at linebacker, or if he can beat out a guy like Kassim Osgood or others for strictly special teams work.