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.
With the retirement, unretirement, and re-retirement of right tackle Anthony Davis, the San Francisco 49ers can’t be blamed for the struggles at the position in recent years.
Well, you actually can blame them for whatever you want — that’s what’s so great about being a fan. In reality though, the 49ers brought in Trent Brown and they have worked on getting a capable swing tackle behind him and left tackle Joe Staley.
Brown is the player we’re going to talk about today, though. A mountain of a man who is more than capable of shedding the entire body weight of this site’s editor while still being in playing shape, Brown was a seventh-round pick in 2015 out of Florida.
He played in five games as a rookie and started two. He showed impressive ability blocking in space, good moves opening holes in the running game, and occasionally found himself out of position. In his second season, he “competed” with Davis, who eventually retired again before a competition could properly surface.
With no real competition, Brown started all 16 games at right tackle. What he ended up being was entirely different than most suspected — he was individually very good in pass protection, bad in run blocking and of course, he made the mistakes that a raw prospect starting too soon typically make.
When I say he was bad in run blocking, I mean it. He repeatedly missed assignments, got pushed around and rarely opened a hole of his own volition. To be fair, he didn’t have much help on the interior of the line with Zane Beadles in one spot and a rookie in the other.
Still, it’s his biggest issue and it needs to be fixed under Kyle Shanahan. The 49ers brought in Garry Gilliam this offseason, and then there’s John Theus, but neither are likely to unseat Brown. Gilliam is a much more complete player and might be better in 2017, but Brown has a higher ceiling and if he can show enough in training camp, Shanahan will stick with the man mountain.
Experience: 3rd season
Weight: 355 lbs
As a seventh-round pick in his third season, Brown still has a cap hit well under $1 million thanks to the rookie wage scale. He has a cap hit of just under $630,000 this year, which increases to just $718,974 in his fourth and final year of his contract. He is eligible for a contract extension following the 2017 season.
Why he might improve in 2017
Brown is 24 years old, coming off a full season of starting and he has what should be an improved group of players around him. Expecting regression in his case would be irresponsible at this point. He’s got all the tools to be an elite tackle, and with an overall stronger coaching staff in charge, he’ll be given every opportunity to succeed. I personally think he will.
Why he might regress in 2017
He’ll be in a real competition with someone who is good, and that’s not something we’ve really seen. He’s now had to learn two different blocking schemes in two years in the NFL, and this will be his third. He was a late-round prospect and his ceiling was always a moving target.
Odds of making the roster
Brown isn’t going anywhere. Even if he loses his starting job to Gilliam, he’s started 18 games in two years and would serve well as the swing tackle. As it stands, it’s likely Gilliam will be that swing tackle, and Brown will remain a starter. Unless the 49ers are completely sold on Gilliam, like Theus as a swing tackle and have a trade partner lined up, Brown will be with the 49ers likely through the end of his rookie contract.