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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: OT John Theus

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). We move on to offensive lineman John Theus.

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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 did not invest 2017 draft capital in the offensive line, but they invested plenty in 2016 capital. A year ago, the 49ers traded up into the first round to select guard Joshua Garnett, and then spent fifth round picks on John Theus and Fahn Cooper.

Theus earned a spot on the 53-man roster last season, but was inactive for much of the season. He was inactive the first 12 games of the season, and active the final four games. He started at right tackle in Week 16, and came off the bench in Weeks 14, 15, and 17.

Theus entered the NFL as a solid college lineman, but scouting reports pointed to a player lacking foot quickness and sufficient power. They pointed to a guy who could compete as a swing tackle, and maybe develop as a right tackle. In his one start with the 49ers, PFF graded him one of the 10 worst performers of Week 16. They had this to say:

This was about as badly as you will see a tackle beaten in the run game. John Theus was beaten for eight clean tackles when run blocking, and that doesn’t count the plays where he was beaten only for his man to chase the back into somebody else’s arms. Whether it was against William Hayes on the edge, or when trying to down-block Aaron Donald, this was just beyond the capability of Theus to execute.

Basic info

Age: 23
Experience: 1 accrued season
Height: 6’6
Weight: 303 lbs

Cap status

Second year of four-year rookie contract. Will earn $540,000 this season. If released, 49ers would carry $64,403 in dead money this year, and $128,806 in dead money for 2018. He has no guaranteed money, just signing bonus proration.

Why he might improve in 2017

He has a year under his belt, with the NFL coaching that entails. He got limited snaps last year, but taking part in a year of camp, practice, and coaching would hopefully provide an opportunity for a step forward for Theus.

Why he might regress in 2017

From a coaching perspective, he is sort of starting over with a new coaching staff and a change in the offense. I don’t think he will necessarily get worse, but we might find out this year if he is a solid college lineman with a limited ceiling in the NFL. It would not technically be a step back, but for a second-year player, it would not be ideal. This is a huge training camp for Theus.

Odds of making the roster

The 49ers invested in the offensive line primarily with veteran additions. They are inexpensive additions, so it does not preclude Theus from claiming a job. But as one of the last draft picks of the Trent Baalke era, he does not exactly have a lot of cache with the new coaching staff and front office. Garry Gilliam could prove to be his primary competition for a swing tackle role, although that depends on how Gilliam and Trenton Brown fare against each other. And of course, we don’t know where Zane Beadles fits into this competition as well.

I’d say Theus’ roster chances are between something like 30 and 50 percent. That’s mostly a guess at this point.