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 pass rush has dealt with numerous inconsistencies the last few years. Aldon Smith looked like the answer, but off-field issues derailed his career. The team has not spent a first round pick on an outside linebacker since Smith, but they have invested in the position. A year after spending a seventh round pick on Cam Johnson, the team drafted Corey Lemonier with a third round pick. Lemonier joined the team with some solid raw skills, and hopes that he could turn it into a consistent presence in the pass rush.
Welp, not so much. Lemonier actually had a decent first season. He only had one sack, but he seemed to bring some pressure. However, a significant problem that developed was he simply did not develop more of an arsenal of pass rush moves. He could get to the quarterback in college, but his skillset has just not fully translated to the NFL. His scouting report coming out of college pointed to a guy with stiff hips, lacking powerful hands, and issues moving in space.
Lemonier played in all 16 games his first two seasons. As a rookie, he played 276 defensive snaps, and 181 special teams snaps. In 2014, he played 143 defensive snaps and 235 special teams snaps. Last season, he played 271 defensive snaps and nine special teams snaps, but he was also inactive for six games. Although he did see more defensive snaps, that’s not exactly trending in a good direction.
Age: 24 (25 on November 19)
Experience: 3 accrued seasons
Weight: 255 lbs
Entering final season of his four-year rookie contract. If he makes the roster, he will earn a base salary of $685,000, and have a cap hit of $820,880.
Why he might improve in 2016?
He’s in his contract year, and maybe year four is when he figures things out. Maybe something about the new defense works well for him. Anything is possible, but it’s hard to be overly optimistic about potential improvement.
Why he might regress in 2016?
He’s entering his fourth year and has to learn a new defense. He played more defensive snaps last year, but played very few special teams snaps. Considering his track record over three years, we could really just say we know what we’ve got with Lemonier at this point. But the loss of special teams snaps and being deactivated for six games would indicate he’s going backwards.
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers pass rush has been a question mark, but the team has some intriguing options competing for work. Aaron Lynch and Ahmad Brooks are penciled in as the starters, with Lemonier, Eli Harold, Tank Carradine, Marcus Rush, Jason Fanaika, and Lenny Jones competing behind them. Harold and Tank seem all but certain of making the roster, and both look like they are ahead of Lemonier on the depth chart. If Lemonier does not show some pass rush improvement, his loss of special teams snaps last year would seem to be problematic. Even if we don’t factor in a potential training camp surge from either of the OLB UDFAs, Lemonier would seem to be facing an uphill battle for playing time. My guess is Lemonier does not make the roster, but it’s going to be a close competition to watch.