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 close of the 2016 NFL Draft means we begin the final lengthy haul toward the start of the new season. We are approximately 90 days from the training camp reporting date for San Francisco 49ers veterans. The team has OTAs and minicamp, and then the dead period in late June and early July, but next thing you know, it will be training camp!
We've started up the 90-in-90 series, and a couple days after looking at special teamer Nick Bellore, we're back with another special teamer in safety L.J. McCray. The 49ers signed McCray as an undrafted free agent back in 2014. He earned a roster spot out of training camp, serving primarily on special teams. As a rookie, McCray played 231 special teams snaps, and seven defensive snaps. This past season, he played 134 special teams snaps, and no defensive snaps. He was placed on injured reserve in early November with a knee injury.
He is entering the final season of his rookie contract, which was a three-year deal since he was a UDFA. He will be paid $600,000 in base salary, and has cap hit of $602,000 thanks to a $6,000 signing bonus.
Why he might improve
Any improvement from a special teams perspective would come with improvement across all the units, similar to Bellore. From a defensive perspective, odds are pretty good he will remain primarily a special teams guy. However, as a younger player, it is possible a new coaching staff could open up more opportunities for him. The team is pretty settled at safety, so it's unlikely, but crazier things have happened.
Why he might regress
There are a lot of new bodies on the roster, competing for opportunities. If one of them can do a bit more on offense or defense to complement their special teams skills, McCray could end up getting cut or traded. The 49ers dealt away special teamer Colin Jones a few years back, so that is certainly a possibility. I think it's less about him getting worse, and more about other options providing more return.
Odds of making the roster
For now I'd say pretty good. I think the 49ers would be more likely to try and deal him for a seventh round pick than cut him.