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 invested quite a bit in their secondary this past April, adding Will Redmond and Rashard Robinson in the 2016 NFL Draft. They used their third and fourth round picks to add the two cornerbacks, surprising most of us with the back-to-back position picks. The Redmond pick was a bit surprising as well because of the planned role. General manager Trent Baalke said at the time that the plan is to get him work in the nickel. Jimmie Ward has handled that work the last two years. Baalke suggested he would eventually transition to safety, but now we see Ward playing outside cornerback. So maybe Redmond as a nickel isn’t out of the realm of the possible.
Of course, that brings us to another significant question: What is the status of Redmond’s knee? Redmond tore his ACL last October, and has been rehabbing it ever since. He did not work out at the Combine or his school’s Pro Day, and once the 49ers drafted him, he was focused entirely on rehab during the offseason workout program. Trent Baalke told the media that he expected Redmond would be ready to compete at training camp. It’s hard to take anything a GM says too seriously, but this was the most forceful statement Baalke had made about an ACL All Star being ready, and not ending up on the NFI list for a season.
The 49ers return for training camp in late July, and the first practice is likely going to be on July 31. If he is going to open camp on the NFI list, we’ll find out before that first practice. If he takes part in that first practice though, we’ll know he cannot go on the NFI list.
The ACL injury leads to questions beyond just when he will be healthy. Redmond did not enter the starting lineup until his senior year. He made his first seven career starts, and then tore his ACL, so we don’t exactly have a huge set of games with which to work. He showed great recovery speed and strong instincts for the ball, but every scouting report pointed to his poor tackling. His size is also an issue. His skills work well against smaller receivers, but if he was matched up with a bigger receiver it could be problematic.
Played in 27 games (7 starts) for the Bulldogs and registered 99 tack- les, 5.5 TFLs, 5 INTs and 8 PDs in his career. As a senior, started all 7 games in which he appeared and notched 25 tackles, 2 INTs and 1 PD. In 2014, played in 12 games and led the Bulldogs with 3 INTs. Also tallied 51 tackles, 3.0 TFLs and 5 PDs. As a sophomore, played in 8 games and registered 23 tackles, 2.5 TFLs and 2 PDs.
Age: 22 (23 on December 28)
He has not yet signed his rookie contract. None of the first six picks in the third round have signed. The third round offers some wiggle room on guaranteed money and bonuses, which is why it takes longer for that round to sign than other rounds.
What to expect in 2016
It all comes down to that knee. It would not surprise me to see the 49ers place him on the NFI list at the start of training camp. That does not mean he won’t play in 2016, but they likely will reserve the option in case anything shows up early in camp. He could be removed a day or two later, he could be removed a week or two later, he could spend the whole time on the NFI list. Nothing would really surprise me.
If he was activated from the NFI list during camp, he would likely get in the mix quickly for slot playing time. Jimmie Ward is moving outside for the time being, and that opens up the slot role in the 49ers nickel defense. Chris Davis and Dontae Johnson were getting some first team nickel work in the offseason workout program, but we don’t really know where things stand with that unit. If Redmond is able to get on the practice field during training camp, he has the physical tools to get into game action fairly quickly. My guess is he would start in more of a dime role, but if the talent connects, he could move up to that nickel role sooner rather than later.
Odds of making the roster
The two most likely scenarios are that he is either on the 53-man roster or on the NFI list. On the one hand, I am sort of feeling like, I’ll believe it when I see it with regard to him actually playing this year. On the other hand, I don’t recall Baalke ever being this declarative in stating an injured player is expected on the field when training camp begins. I’m going to lean more toward the former for now, but hopeful that he actually gets out there.