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 you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers added a whole lot of talent to the offensive line. Zane Beadles was the notable free agent addition, but the team added significant young talent during and after the draft. They traded up to draft Joshua Garnett in the first round, and then added John Theus and Fahn Cooper in the fifth round. Following the draft, the team signed Blake Muir, Norman Price, and Alex Balducci as undrafted free agents.
Balducci seems like the most interesting of the UDFAs because of his college experience and the money involved. Balducci played defensive line at Oregon, serving in a nose tackle role in the Ducks 3-4. He was first-team All-State in high school on both the defensive line and offensive line. Balducci would not be the first player to transition from one side of the ball to the other. We saw it with Bruce Miller back in 2011. And given Balducci's experience at offensive line, it's not entirely a stunning change.
Where it actually gets interesting is in the guaranteed money. Balducci received $57,500 in guaranteed money. That included a signing bonus of $12,500, and a base salary guarantee of $45,000. He received the most total money, and the highest base salary guarantee of any of the 49ers 2016 undrafted free agents. That does not guarantee a roster spot, but it would likely guarantee at least a spot on the practice squad.
Earlier this week, Matt Maiocco mentioned Balducci in his notes from 49ers OTAs. He said that Balducci lined up at center with the third-team offense and had only bad snap during his time on the field. We don't know how he is handling calling out assignments and whatnot, but only bad snap is certainly a plus for a guy who has not played offensive line full-time since he was in high school.
Balducci signed a three-year contract as a UDFA. If he makes the 49ers roster this season, his base salary would be $450,000. His salary cap hit would be $454,166. If he is released, the 49ers would have $66,500 in dead money. If he was then signed to the practice squad, the $45,000 base salary portion of that would be offset by his practice squad salary, and so the only dead money would be his $12,500 signing bonus. If he plays the full three years of his contract, he would be a restricted free agent after 2018.
What to expect in 2016
It sounds like he's off to a solid start in OTAs. If he were to surprise folks and make the roster, I suspect he would be inactive fairly regularly. Even if he ends up as the primary backup center, my guess is he would be inactive as long as Daniel Kilgore remained healthy and playing every snap.
Odds of making the roster
His odds seem better than most of the UDFAs given all the guaranteed money. His primary competition for a roster spot might be Marcus Martin given that nobody else seems to be regularly competing at center. My guess is Balducci ends up on the practice squad, but unlike the other UDFA linemen, I'd put him in the weak bubble instead of long-shot category.