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.
We told you we'd be looking at every single player on the roster, and we meant it. Today, we move on to safety D.J. Campbell. The 49ers signed Campbell to a reserve/future contract earlier this year. Just as a reminder, the reserve/future contract basically means, the 49ers own the rights to him. If he is cut during training camp, there is not likely to be any sort of cap ramifications.
Campbell was drafted by the Carolina Panthers in the 7th round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was released on September 9, 2013, and signed by the Miami Dolphins to their practice squad on November 11. The Dolphins released him on November 25, 2013, and re-signed him on November 27. He was released again on December 16, 2013.
What to expect in 2014:
Campbell actually got some playing time with the Panthers back in 2012, but he was not really able to capitalize on it in 2013. It sounds like he played fairly well in his 2012 chances, but he was quickly outplayed in 2013 training camp. His best shot at a roster spot with the 49ers is if he can provide strong play on special teams. That is how Darryl Morris earned his roster spot, so any opportunity on the 49ers roster for Campbell would require that kind of showing.
Odds of making the roster:
Incredibly slim. The one thing playing in his favor is that the 49ers don't exactly have great depth at safety. After Eric Reid and Antoine Bethea, the remaining safeties are Craig Dahl, C.J. Spillman, and Bubba Ventrone. All three excel at special teams, but have their limitations one defense (and Ventrone doesn't even play defense).
Could a youngster like Campbell somehow squeeze his way on to the roster? I strikes me as pretty doubtful, but you never know. My guess is his best chance is earning a spot on the 49ers practice squad. Craig Dahl and C.J. Spillman likely will make the roster, but their futures are uncertain. Spillman is a free agent, and I expect he walks after this season. Dahl is signed through 2015, but after taking a pay cut this offseason, he either will take a pay cut next offseason, or he'll be released. Maybe 2015 provides Campbell with a better chance at cracking the 49ers 53-man roster.