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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: SS Chanceller James

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today: SS Chanceller James.

NCAA Football: Boise State at Air Force Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

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.

As a writer, it’s tempting to give too much attention to players who don’t really have much chance to make the team but make good stories, because they come out of nowhere. Chanceller James seems to be the rare great story who has a solid shot making this team.

That’s amazing because he wasn’t drafted and wasn’t even a priority UDFA. James signed up for tryouts with the 49ers and the Saints, and never got to New Orleans. He was one of just 3 players SF signed out of the 56 at rookie minicamp tryouts, along with WR B.J. Johnson and OL Richard Levy.

James was solid but not amazing at Boise State in the Mountain West conference and never got onto the scouting community’s radar, but he seems to have the Niners’ attention now. Per Matt Barrows, the team “cut a more celebrated rookie strong safety, Malik Golden from Penn State” to keep James.

Basic info

Age: 22
Experience: Rookie
Height: 6’2
Weight: 215 lbs at his Pro Day, but 49ers list him at 208
40-yard dash: 4.54
Vertical jump: 31”
Broad jump: 121”
Bench press: 21 reps x 225 lbs.
20 Yrd Shuttle: 4.27
3-Cone Drill: 7.07

Scouting reports

A 22-year-old native of Spring Valley, CA, James (6-2, 208) attended Boise State University. During his five-year career with the Broncos (2012-16), he played in 35 games (24 starts) and registered 171 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions, 3.0 sacks, seven passes defensed and one fumble recovery. As a senior in 2016, he started all 12 games in which he appeared, and notched 80 tackles, a team-high three interceptions and one pass defensed. In 2015, he appeared in 13 games (nine starts) and finished with 55 tackles, six passes defensed, 3.0 sacks and one interception. As a sophomore, he played in 10 games (three starts) and registered 36 tackles and one fumble recovery. After redshirting as a true freshman in 2012, he missed the entire 2013 season due to injury.

Cap status

He signed a three-year UDFA deal, but received no guaranteed money. He is scheduled to earn league minimums for each of the three seasons on his deal.

Why he might succeed in the NFL

Unlike many longshots, he has good NFL size (6’2, 208). As a strong safety he’s naturally a good tackler, but also has coverage skills, leading Boise State with 3 interceptions his senior year and grabbing another one during the Niners’ mandatory minicamp.

Why he might not

He’s not especially fast or athletic, nor is he a sideline to sideline player. says that he “struggles in man-coverage situations and plays better facing the action.” They peg him as a dime coverage zone specialist and, of course, special teamer.

At the risk of triggering Trent Baalke PTSD among Niners fans, James tore both of his ACLs (on separate occasions) early in his college career. All of his success came after he recovered from both injuries, however.

Odds of making the roster

Given his lack of hype, all he can ask for is a chance to show he can play, and James certainly has that. He’s in the right place at the right time, with a scheme change once again creating separate strong and free safety positions. There’s little chance he’ll beat out Jaquiski Tartt or Eric Reid, but there’s a decent possibility that either he or Vinnie Sunseri could make the team as a special teamer/SS3.