The San Francisco 49ers enter training camp in a few weeks with 11 players in their 2016 draft class, not including undrafted free agents. Each player enters camp with different expectations, and odds are pretty good expectations will have changed for some of them by the end of training camp.
With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to take a look at the best and worst case expectations for each player (players and links listed at the bottom). We’ll also try and come up with “realistic expectations,” but those extremes of best and worst will give us a framework heading into training camp. I want best and worst to be somewhat measured in realism, so we won’t have “gets cut” as the worst case scenario for every player. The same holds true for pie in the sky optimism.
Today, we’ll look at defensive lineman Ronald Blair. The 49ers selected the Appalachian State product in the fifth round with the extra pick they acquired from the San Diego Chargers in last year’s move down for Arik Armstead. David Neumann went into detail on Blair, explaining why he is the 49ers day three pick most likely to make an early impact.
Best case scenario
He becomes a regular in the 49ers defensive line rotation. He does not become a base defense starter, but we see him in the 49ers sub-packages all 16 games. The 49ers use of base vs. nickel as the primary defense will vary based on opponent, so even in the best case scenario, his snaps will vary.
Worst case scenario
As David wrote earlier this year, the 49ers are unable to best fit his workload to his skills, and he ends up inactive for much of the season. The 49ers have several options in defensive line depth. Blair likely plays even in the worst case scenario, but it would be considerably less, and very inconsistent.
I’m fairly optimistic that the 49ers will get him into the lineup with regularity. I see him surpassing Tony Jerod-Eddie on the depth chart, working as the second player off the bench after DeForest Buckner. It’s not quite best case because the rotation is a bit more extensive around him.
1 (7). DeForest Buckner, DT, Oregon (best case/worst case)
1 (28). Joshua Garnett, OG, Stanford (best case/worst case)
3 (5). Will Redmond, CB, Mississippi State (best case/worst case)
4 (35). Rashard Robinson, CB, LSU (best case/worst case)
5 (3). Ronald Blair, DE, Appalachian State (best case/worst case)
5 (6). John Theus, OT, Georgia (best case/worst case)
5 (35). Fahn Cooper, OT, Ole Miss
6 (32). Jeff Driskel, QB, Louisiana Tech (best case/worst case)
6 (36). Kelvin Taylor, RB, Florida (best case/worst case)
6 (38). Aaron Burbridge, WR, Michigan State (best case/worst case)
7 (28). Prince Charles Iworah, CB, Western Kentucky