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 will head into training camp with Michael Wilhoite likely starting at inside linebacker next to NaVorro Bowman. Wilhoite was the starter in place of Bowman last year, starting in all 16 games. One player who got some snaps next to him was Nick Moody. Patrick Willis opened the year as the starter before an aggravated toe injury ended his season. Chris Borland emerged as a starter in Week 7, but ended up on injured reserve after Week 15. The team signed Desmond Bishop to fill his roster spot, but Moody took over the starting role for two weeks.
The 49ers drafted Moody in 2013, looking at him primarily as a special teams player. He played that role most of his first two seasons before the Borland injury moved him into the starting lineup. In two full games at inside linebacker, Moody graded out negatively at Pro Football Focus, generally struggling with the role. He has gotten praise during this year's offseason workout program, but it is just in shorts and helmets.
Why he might improve:
He knows he is in the thick of competition for possibly a reserve role. Maybe knowing that he is actually in the hunt for some defensive playing time could result in improvement. And given the praise we have heard, maybe year three is when he takes a noticeable step forward. It is also worth noting he bounced between positions in college, so his developmental track is a little bit different. He came to college as a safety, then played strong-side linebacker in 2012, and then became an inside linebacker for the 49ers.
Why he might regress:
His game is built on athleticism, but coming out of college, he struggled with coverage. He could develop into a role that does not require as much coverage, but that will limit his opportunities to develop on defense. As we said last year, he could just be best suited for special teams. He was a sixth round pick for a reason, and this just might be it.
Odds of making the roster:
He has a strong chance due to his special teams skills. If he has indeed had a strong workout program, he could head into training camp with a decent amount of momentum. He is competing with guys like Nick Bellore, Philip Wheeler and Shayne Skov, as well as other guys who focus on special teams. Wheeler stands a strong chance of claiming the primary backup ILB job, but Moody is getting a chance. He has been getting second team work with the defense the last two months. I'd say his odds of making the roster are pretty good. I don't think he's a lock, but I am leaning "strong bubble" (as opposed to "weak bubble") at this point.