Much of the 49ers related news recently has focused on the integration of new players (despite the majority of the 90 man roster being “new”), and Sunday’s batch was no different. A few of the articles written in the last week or so have left me with more and more questions, accompanied by a desire for OTAs to hurry on up and start; one specific article (reference) was ranking our top positional units, and another (reference) made note of Breida possibly challenging Williams in challenging Hyde.
The former left me feeling pretty good about the upcoming season - not in the traditional “in it to win it!” sense, but rather in an “on paper, we should improve not only in all phases of the game, but specifically, in all positional groups” way, brevity aside. The latter added a sense of urgent excitement about the prospect of having a handful of positional groups in which we aren’t faced with a presumed marginal starter and a smattering of lottery tickets and prayers (as was the case most recently in 2016).
Branch’s article on Sunday expanded the idea, specifically pointing out possible training camp (insert word that’s like 15% less extreme than “controversies”) at both the RB and TE positions. While I certainly wish the article was a little bit fuller, it did mention that only 40 of the players on the 90 man roster are returning players - which includes practice and injury squads.
I did a cursory search on the usual numbers of returning players and came up empty handed.
The number still gave me some hope that the casting aside of obsolete talent might be underway sooner rather than later. If players like Ahmad Brooks or Dontae Johnson, the nameless collective of -IOF (soon to be -WOF if you’re pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down) receivers, or even the tepidly maligned Vance McDonald, end up upstaged by a new face, we could see Baalke’s dubious legacy finally discarded in a short couple of years.
Some players just don’t hold the same value in certain systems. A handful of those 40 returning players will find that their skillsets or deficiencies make them, ultimately, expendable. It’s the nature of the business, I wish them well in their future endeavors and such (Any number of watercooler cliches will suffice here). What it means, to me, is that we’re one step closer to building the roster in the image of Kyle Shanahan. I, for one, am very excited for that.
Onto the links -
50 new faces on the 90 man roster, vets to be challenged | Branch, SFGate
OTA primer | Barrows, Sac Bee
Shanahan on Lynch hiring | Mano, Mercury
Zierlein: Kittle & Jones to exceed expectations | Bonilla, 49ers Webzone
Ahkello Witherspoon infographic | Peacock, PFF