Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but Fooch is a crazy person who manages this blog with no rhyme or reason and it's worked so far. Who am I to argue?
The San Francisco 49ers drafted offensive lineman Brandon Thomas just over a year ago, with the selection occurring a month after Thomas tore his ACL. The 49ers used a third round pick on a player that some viewed as a second round talent. It was one of several "medical redshirt" picks the 49ers made in recent years, and it is part of a group of players that will give a better handle on Trent Baalke's legacy in the coming years.
The 49ers placed Thomas on the NFI list at the start of training camp, and he remained on the list throughout the season. They were not allowed to practice for most of that time, although they did get some walkthrough and individual work in after a brief practice window activation. When the window expired, he spent the rest of the season on the NFI list.
What to expect in 2015
The 49ers start up their OTAs on May 19, and Thomas is expected to be a full participant. Trent Baalke said as much on March 12, and he has subsequently mentioned Thomas as the potential replacement for Mike Iupati. All indications are that his ACL recovery has come along smoothly. Barring any setback, I think he ends up starting at left guard. The 49ers drafted him as a long-term option at the position, and if he is healthy, he should be good to go to compete for and win the starting role.
A year ago, Nick Chiamardas put together a scouting report on Thomas. Nick looked at Thomas as a guy with good size, although he thought he could stand to gain 15 pounds on his frame. Thomas has the necessary quickness and awareness, but needs to develop consistency in his technique. Nick talked about his occasional hip-bending instead of knee-bending. The 49ers have changed offensive line coaches, but the basic technique improvement is something he has been able to learn over the last year.
Odds of starting
The 49ers signed free agent Erik Pears, and have Joe Looney, Marcus Martin and Daniel Kilgore all as potential competitors to replace Mike Iupati. Thomas should enter training camp as the favorite, and ideally will be taking first team snaps from the start of training camp. The line will see some changes and thus needs time to gel. Getting Thomas into the starting lineup quickly would be a big boost for 2015.
I suppose it is possible Thomas is not ready, but that would be a significant disappointment at this point. The 49ers media gets access to one full day of OTAs each week over the next month. They will be able to get some kind of grasp on the current depth chart, so we will get a better handle on where Thomas is fitting in next week.