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 lost both Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis, and what they really needed to do last offseason was get a couple serviceable offensive linemen. They didn't need to be great, they simply had to be serviceable. Somehow, Trent Baalke missed the memo and the 49ers ended up with a pair of players that were literally ranked as the two worst starting offensive linemen for a large portion of the 2014 season in Jordan Devey and Erik Pears.
In the 90-in-90 post on Pears last year, Fooch wrote that Pears is a "backup option that you don't really want starting on a regular basis." Well, he did start. On a regular basis.
The absolute nicest thing I can say about Pears and his play for the 49ers last season is simple: he wasn't as bad as Devey and he wasn't as bad as Marcus Martin. He was bad -- don't get me wrong -- but he wasn't as bad. Pears is an odd player in that when he engages his blocks, he blocks very well and doesn't seem to get overwhelmed.
Where he gets caught up is actually engaging them. Pears missed more assignments than both Devey and Martin (at least by my reckoning) last season, and too often a rusher came around the edge without Pears even getting a hand on him. Too often was Pears simply left in the dust while Colin Kaepernick or Blaine Gabbert got pummeled.
Not only does Pears only get the slightest fingertip-touch on his guy, he also stumbles and rolls to the ground after missing the block. He gets up just in time to watch Kaepernick go down for a significant loss. Oh, and if you hadn't looked at the top left corner, that play was a third and goal.
Sure, I've picked out a single play above, and surely Pears has had his strong moments. I'll admit that when I went to search back through my breaking down the breakdown posts from last season, I noticed on several sacks I noted that Pears generally "handled his business." But at this point he only deserves the little bit of praise that amounts to because he's not the worst player on a bad offensive line.
But then again ...
Why he might improve
I wanted to drop in a "shrug" emoticon and leave it at that, but after giving it some thought I decided to put in a tiny bit of effort. Pears is old, coming off a bad year with a new team and will once again learn a new offense. It's unclear if he's even in the starting discussion, but if he is there is the tiniest possibility that, with Devey and possibly Martin out of the picture, Pears' somewhat average play is enough to qualify as an improvement. It's a slim chance.
Why he might regress
Football is a young man's game, and Pears has nothing even approaching stability in the NFL. Couple that with the fact that he might not even have a shot at starting next season, and regression is more than possible. It's likely.
Odds of making the roster
Despite his age and below average play, Pears will probably be in the discussion to start at multiple positions, and if he doesn't make it, then he'll be in the discussion to be a backup at multiple positions. He'll have value as a swing tackle at worst, may be a somewhat average starter at best and I'd put his chances of making the roster fairly high.