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 feature a defensive line in 2015 that is drastically different than recent seasons. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald were anchors on the line. Over the last four years, they were joined by the likes of Ricky Jean Francois, Isaac Sopoaga, Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey and Quinton Dial at the nose tackle role.
This year, McDonald and Smith are no longer in the picture. Ian Williams, Glenn Dorsey and Quinton Dial are all still in the mix, but they are joined by the likes of Darnell Dockett, Tank Carradine, Arik Armstead, Tony Jerod-Eddie, Lawrence Okoye, Mike Purcell and Kaleb Ramsey.
The competition along the defensive line will be extensive, but more importantly, we will potentially see a significant amount of rotation. The line featured more and more rotation as Justin Smith and Ray McDonald got older, but this year could see it reach new heights.
One player who could benefit from this is Kaleb Ramsey. The second year defensive tackle spent last season on the PUP list following an injury in the offseason workout program. The 49ers spent a seventh round pick on Ramsey in the 2014 NFL Draft. He is viewed as a solid talent, but he struggled to stay healthy throughout his college career. And struggle might be an understatement. His injury list includes the following:
2008: Seemed to stay healthy as true freshman
2009: Ankle injury cost him five games
2010: Concussion, hip injury, appeared in 11 games
2011 spring: back or shoulder surgery (seen both mentioned)
2011 season: Plantar fasciitis knocked him out of opener, played one game, missed rest of season, granted medical hardship waiver
2012: Played first two games, then left calf tear cost him rest of season, granted a sixth year of eligibility
2013: Missed three games with hamstring injury
2014 NFL Combine and Pro Day: Could not participate in either due to calf injury
Suffice to say, injuries have been a problem. There has been no word on what put him on the PUP list, but it would seem like a calf or hamstring is the likely culprit given his history. Whatever the case, it appears he was a full participant in this year's offseason workout program. For now, we are just left to wait and see if he is active for training camp. His inclusion on the PUP list to start camp last year caught us by surprise, so we'll see if it happens again this year.
For now, here are some scouting reports:
What to expect in 2015:
Given his history, odds are probably kind of high that he gets hurt again. I certainly hope not, but he has not stayed healthy in quite some time. If he can actually stay healthy, he could work his way into the back end of the defensive line rotation. If he made the 53-man roster, he likely would spend a decent amount of time inactive. However, given the injury history of some members of the defensive line, he very well could work his way into a little bit of playing time. I fully expect a sizable rotation on the line, and Ramsey is a guy who could work his way into it to some degree.
Odds of making the roster:
I don't think he has a great shot of making the roster, but I think he comes in pretty decently under the radar. I view these six players as locks to make the roster.
I think Tony Jerod-Eddie is a strong bubble candidate. He has extensive experience as a reserve on this line. He is a not huge impact player, but he can play all along the line as needed. And again, given the injury histories of some of these guys, extra bodies will be valuable.
TJE would put the line up to seven people. Last year the 49ers went with eight out of training camp, but that included Glenn Dorsey, who was put on injured reserve with a return designation shortly after roster cuts. We'll see at least seven players on the line, but given the turnover, eight is entirely possible. It would seem like Ramsey is competing with TJE, Lawrence Okoye, Mike Purcell and Garrison Smith for the last one or two roster spots.
In the Garrison Smith article, someone suggested Smith and Ramsey were more logical practice squad candidates. Lawrence Okoye is approaching make-or-break territory in his development, but he like Smith and Ramsey have practice squad eligibility. They likely won't keep all three of them around on the combination of rosters, so they need to start making some decisions.