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 offensive line will feature quite a bit of turnover in 2015. Mike Iupati departed in free agency and Anthony Davis abruptly retired earlier this month. Those two departures opened up the left guard and right tackle positions for competition. The team drafted Brandon Thomas a year ago and red-shirted him, likely with the option in mind to replace Iupati. The team signed Erik Pears to compete at right tackle, but Alex Boone and rookie Trenton Brown will also likely see some opportunities in August.
One player that was flying under the radar prior to OTAs and minicamp was guard Andrew Tiller. He has emerged on the radar following OTAs and minicamp because he got a sizable chunk of the first team left guard snaps. Brandon Thomas got some first team work, but also seemed to work a decent amount at right guard. Alex Boone spent minicamp at left guard, but was primarily the second team left guard behind Tiller.
The 49ers signed Tiller to their practice squad in Week 6 last season. He was originally drafted by the New Orleans Saints in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He spent the 2012 season with the Saints, and then spent the 2013 season between the San Diego Chargers and Green Bay Packers practice squads. He was released by the Packers at the end of training camp last year before signing with the 49ers on October 7.
What to expect in 2015:
I would be surprised if Tiller was the starting guard this season, and realistically, I would think he would be surpassed by someone at the start of, or early in training camp. It is possible he has impressed enough this offseason, but I just have a hard time buying that. Of course, that is based on just a few random thoughts in June. If he did make the roster, my guess is it would be as a reserve guard. We'll get a better handle on this early in camp, either right on day one, or no more than a week in.
Odds of making the roster:
My guess is fairly long, but it is hard to ignore the fact that he was getting first team snaps in OTAs and minicamp. I had initially expected Brandon Thomas to be getting those snaps, but Jim Tomsula has also said he is still getting used to being back in football. He tore his ACL a year ago April, and as Tomsula described it, there are still day-to-day hitches in his giddyup:
And when you come back off the legs, it's not like everything, you're medically cleared but now you've still got, now you've got to get football going. You got to get stepping on that thing and getting running and getting moving. And there's a period of time there, and just to watch him, and you see it now, those little hitches in the giddy up, they're going away day-to-day. Every day, it's just getting better. He's doing really well.
As for Alex Boone, his absence from OTAs likely explained why the team decided to start him with the second team for now. My guess is when training camp gets here, things will be different. Maybe we see Boone at left guard, maybe we see Thomas at left guard. I just would be surprised if Tiller was starting at left guard when training camp gets here, or at least when we get a week into training camp.
But again, he does have the advantage of getting a lot of first team work in this evolving offense. It would not be the craziest thing in the world to see the journeyman work his way onto the roster. He could be competing with guys like Joe Looney, Ian Silberman and Trenton Brown for some kind of opportunity. It's kind of hard to figure out the favorites with so many moving parts at center and both guard positions. It has been a while since we've seen this many moving pieces.