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.
A lot of college players go pro early — too early.
Not only did 26% of underclassmen go undrafted (25 of 95), but only 43% were taken in first 2 days. Tough way to make living as Day 3/UDFA— Gil Brandt (@Gil_Brandt) May 1, 2017
But sometimes players “do the right thing” by returning for their senior year, and that proves to be a mistake. Matt Barkley was projected as a top 10 pick in 2012, but was chosen 98th in 2013 after a senior year injury.
Georgia Southern RB Matt Breida is another player who might have done better going pro a year earlier, especially given the very deep 2017 RB class. Breida had two outstanding years as a sophomore and junior at Sun Belt conference Georgia Southern, averaging around 1,500 yards, 8 yards per carry and exactly 17 touchdowns those two seasons.
His senior year was miserable though — just 646 yards, 3 TDs and 3.8 yards per run — and it kept getting worse and worse. In a mid-November game against Louisiana-Lafayette, he managed just 18 yards on 14 carries. The answer to the question “Why did he drop off?” may determine his NFL prospects.
Was it the lower leg injury he suffered at the end of the 2015 season? (Maybe not; he played all 12 games in 2016.) New (and rookie) head coach Tyson Summers, previously the defensive coordinator at Colorado State? Injuries suffered by both of Georgia Southern’s quarterbacks?
The 49ers wooed him with a large cash guarantee for a UDFA and a pitch that he fit as a quick, smaller back to complement 4th round pick Joe Williams in the two-back offense Kyle Shanahan ran at Atlanta.
Age: 22 (23 on Feb. 28th, 2018)
Height: 5’9 (nfldraftscout.com) or 5’10 (Rotoworld, ESPN) or 5’11 (49ers website)
Weight: 190 lbs
40-yard dash: 4.38 (Pro Day)
Vertical jump: 42” (Pro Day)
Broad jump: 142” (Pro Day)
Bench press: 23 reps x 225 lbs. (Pro Day)
Why he might succeed in the NFL
In his sophomore and junior years, Breida showed amazing explosion and big-play potential, earning fans such as PFF’s Jordan Plocher. His 2015 breakaway percentage of 60.3% — the percentage of run yardage gained on 15+ yard runs - was second only to Dalvin Cook, and he got more yards after contact (3.61) than Ezekiel Eliott or Derrick Henry.
He wasn’t invited to the Combine after his weak senior season, but his Pro Day put him back on the map. Among RBs at the Combine, Breida would have been a very close second in the 40-yard dash (0.01 seconds behind at 4.38), third in the bench press, and best in both the vertical jump (42”) and broad jump (11’2”).
And his biggest game in 2016 — the only one above 100 yards — was on the biggest stage, against Ole Miss. He also offers kick return ability.
Why he might not
Breida was not productive as a receiver out of the backfield, in part because he wasn’t asked to be in the Eagles’ triple-option offense (only 22 receptions in 3 years).
He was under-sized even at Georgia Southern, and his breakaway potential won’t do him any good if he can’t get through an NFL line of scrimmage. Also, Pro Day numbers are often better than Combine results for the same player. Unfortunately for Breida, Pro Day results are all he’ll ever have.
Odds of making the roster
He’ll have to have a good training camp to make it. Early indications are good:
One 49ers assistant told me the best rookie on the field during minicamp was actually RB Matt Breida. Not ready to crown Joe Williams yet— Kevin Jones (@Mr_KevinJones) May 18, 2017
You can understand why Breida was signed, what with his pro day numbers and early production. But even with questionable coaching and fragile quarterbacks, it’s hard to imagine how a guy who struggled so much in the Sun Belt conference could break out in the NFL.