Each offseason, we like to run a series of articles here on Niners Nation called "90-in-90." In the post, we take a look at 90 players (or so) on the San Francisco 49ers 90-man roster throughout the offseason and what we can expect of them the following year. We take a look at their expected impact, whether or not they'll make the roster and things of that nature. For rookies, we're going back and looking at how we did with those posts.
Thus far, we've taken a look at Chris Borland, Jimmie Ward, Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, Dontae Johnson, Bruce Ellington, Aaron Lynch, L.J. McCray and Dillon Farrell. Today, we're going to take a look at tight end Asante Cleveland. He was the third and final undrafted free agent to have an impact in 2015.
Like the other two UDFAs, I handled the 90-in-90 breakdown for Cleveland. I suggested he could compete for the third tight end role, and had an outside chance of making the roster in that role. I wrote the article a few days before training camp started, at which point Vernon Davis was still holding out. Nobody really knew what was going to happen, and that opened the door for more opportunities.
However, Davis returned at the start of camp, and Cleveland found himself competing with a fairly deep group of tight ends. Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald were the starters, with Garrett Celek and Derek Carrier competing for the third spot. Of course, things drastically changed as injuries reared their ugly head. It started with Garrett Celek opening training camp on the PUP list due to a back injury, and went down hill as the season progressed.
Cleveland was waived in the final round of roster cuts. The team signed him to the practice squad after he cleared waivers. He spent the first two weeks on the practice squad, but was promoted to the 53-man roster for Week 3 with Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald inactive that Sunday. He was sent back to the practice squad for the next two months. In late November, he was promoted back up to the 53-man roster and spent the final five weeks of the season on the active roster. He played primarily on special teams, but got offensive snaps in Weeks 15-17.
The tight end position is a big question mark heading into 2015. We don't know if Vernon Davis will be a cap casualty, Vance McDonald dealt with numerous injuries, Garrett Celek missed most of the season with a back injury before playing and then ending up on injured reserve, and Derek Carrier ended up on injured reserve late in the season. It was just an all around bad year, and who knows what it means for 2015. If all four of those guys return in 2015, Cleveland is unlikely to make the 53-man roster. But this is one position that could very well see some shake-up in the next few months.