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?
Over the weekend, I put together a 90-in-90 post for linebacker Shayne Skov. Unfortunately the timing of it was such that it was completely overrun by the news that Andy Lee was traded to the Cleveland Browns. I wanted to remind folks about it, but I figured I would also double down on the linebacker position.
There are plenty of high profile players we will look at over the remainder of the 90-in-90 series, but there are also a lot of under-the-radar guys that are worth a look. Desmond Bishop is one such player. The eight year veteran signed with the 49ers on December 16 to fill the void left by Chris Borland going on injured reserve. Bishop played 12 special teams snaps in Week 16, and then three defensive snaps and ten special teams snaps in Week 17.
Bishop was a free agent following the season, and signed a one-year deal on March 31.
Why he might improve:
Given that he is entering season nine of his NFL career, you kind of know what you are going to get from Bishop. That being said, having a full offseason to learn the new playbook will benefit him. He brings a veteran presence to a linebacker corps that lost a notable one in Patrick Willis, and a rising star in Chris Borland. Bishop is not at their level, but he could provide a steady veteran presence to the group.
Why he might regress:
He's a little bit older, which means he could lose a step. While there are positives to being a veterans, the team also could be happy going younger when final roster cuts come around. Salary is not really a concern given that the team can use the veteran's minimum salary benefit.
Odds of making the roster:
I'd say less than 50/50. NaVorro Bowman and Michael Wilhoite are likely to be the starters. That would leave Bishop competing with Philip Wheeler, Nick Moody, Shayne Skov and Nick Bellore. I think Bellore has the upper-hand given his previous relationship with the 49ers new special teams coach. Wheeler is the same age as Bishop, but likely brings more to the table as an ILB. Moody and Skov are the youngest of this group. Moody has gotten first team work this spring, and plenty of praise from Jim Tomsula.
The 49ers kept four inside linebackers last year: Patrick Willis, Michael Wilhoite, Chris Borland and Nick Moody (NaVorro Bowman was on PUP). Bellore is likely to be a special teams focused player, so I could see the 49ers keeping four inside linebackers plus Bellore. Moody and Wheeler seem like the strongest candidates for the spots, likely resulting in Bishop getting cut at the end of training camp.