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?
One of the many San Francisco 49ers players that dealt with injuries in 2014 was defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. A year after excelling as the team's nose tackle in place of Ian Williams, Dorsey tore his biceps muscle in training camp. The 49ers placed Dorsey on the injured reserve with return designation, and actually activated him after Williams got hurt. However, Dorsey was inactive for three games, and when it was clear the season was circling the drain, the team placed him on season-ending injured reserve.
After Dorsey suffered his biceps tear, the 49ers signed him to a 2-year contract extension. He was due to hit free agency following the 2014 season, but the injury cost him any chance at a potential sizable deal after the season. His extension is worth a similar amount to his first deal with the 49ers, and he will get a chance to earn plenty of playing time with Justin Smith out the door.
The retirement of Justin Smith and the release of Ray McDonald open up significant change on the defensive line. Matt Barrows suggested Dorsey would start at right defensive end in base downs, and Tank Carradine would replace him in the nickel. This makes a lot of sense, particularly if Darnell Dockett or Quinton Dial ends up starting on the other side of the defensive line. And of course, given Dorsey's strong performance at nose tackle in 2013, he will likely remain the primary backup to Ian Williams.
Why he might improve:
I don't think I could have been any happier with Dorsey's 2013 performance. He struggled out of the gates as a rookie with the Chiefs, but he finally figured some things out and became an impact player. The departures of Smith and McDonald open the door for even more opportunities. I suspect we see him primarily in the base defense, but given that Tank has not shown enough to earn significant playing time to date, there is always room for more opportunities. I'd like to hope Tank breaks through this year, but if not, Dorsey potentially benefits with more playing time. I don't know that he actually "improves" compared to his 2013 performance, because it was very solid. He first showed improvement with the Chiefs once he switched to a 3-4 end role, so he could build on that.
Why he might regress:
The injury is of course the first concern. The biceps tear seems like it was a bit of a freak injury, so fingers crossed it is nothing more than that. However, until we see him back on the practice field with some consistency, the concerns will be there. We will learn more in OTAs, but it will obviously be something to watch even closer in training camp.
Dorsey does turn 30 this August, so he is not quite the youngster he once was. Assuming the biceps muscle is fully healed, he has a year less tread considering he sat out last season. But with age in professional sports, you never know when a player's skill level will drop off a cliff.
Finally, there is the likely switch to defensive end. He had success in the role in Kansas City, so I don't think this is a big concern. But given the success he had at nose tackle, it's at least something to sort of consider. But honestly, I don't see a lot of worst case scenario here.
Odds of making the roster:
He's not going anywhere. He signed a 2-year extension shortly after his biceps tear, and he was incredibly effective in 2013. The team likes what he brings to the table, and he is not going anywhere. Assuming he is healthy, I see no reason he is not a significant contributor this season.