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 signed outside linebacker Chase Thomas on May 27, 2014. The move came in conjunction with their waiving of OLB Morgan Breslin due to his college injury issues. Breslin aggravated something, and the 49ers decided not to keep him around. The team's OLB corps consisted of Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks, Corey Lemonier, Dan Skuta, and Aaron Lynch, so it made sense to add another OLB to the mix.
Thomas, a Stanford graduate, entered the NFL in 2013, signing with the New Orleans Saints as an undrafted free agent. He was waived by the Saints on August 19, and later acquired off of waivers by the Oakland Raiders on August 20, before being released on August 31. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons practice squad on September 17, where he spent the remainder of the season. Thomas was signed to a Reserve/Future contract with the Green Bay Packers on January 7, 2014, and was later released on May 12.
Vic Fangio is a fan of Thomas, having said back in 2011 that he was "born to play football." Given that Jim Harbaugh was the head coach there, it's not surprising he recruited a guy like that. I have not heard Coach Harbaugh comment on Thomas, but I have to think we'd get a, "he's a football player" type of comments. Thomas is fourth all-time at Stanford with 27.5 sacks, and was twice voted first team All-Pac 12.
Here is a helpful scouting report.
What to expect in 2014:
Thomas is at the bottom of the OLB pecking order, so his roster chances are pretty slim. We should get to see a decent amount of him in the preseason. Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks are unlikely to get crazy playing time. Corey Lemonier and Dan Skuta will likely get plenty as they prepare for a potential Aldon suspension. That leaves Lynch and Thomas. I suspect those two will get plenty of second half playing time, particularly in the fourth quarter. I don't think Thomas is just a camp body, but he's going to have to absolutely blow it up in camp to secure a roster spot. And even a strong camp might not be enough. Injuries and Aldon's suspension are likely his best bets to stick with the 49ers.
Odds of making the roster:
They are pretty slim, although I think he has a good shot at making the practice squad. Aldon Smith's suspension will boost his chances of an early season roster spot, but it would probably take that plus an injury to someone else for Thomas to earn a roster spot. I suppose he could light it up and the 49ers then trade him for a late round pick, but that is unlikely as well. After all, a strong performance for him would likely come in the second half of games. Teams will grab those kinds of guys off waivers at the end of August, but I highly doubt they would give up any kind of draft pick for them.