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.
Daniel Kilgore is potentially looking at not having a starting job going into next season thanks to moves the San Francisco 49ers made under new general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Kilgore, a guard who moved to center, has played quite well at the position at times, but a significant injury history has often had the 49ers in a worse position than if they’d have went with someone else from the onset.
They drafted Marcus Martin, ostensibly to compete with Kilgore and potentially take over for him. But Martin was bad at just about everything, and was released in March.
Kilgore is good against the run and is able top nose tackles in the trenches. He plays a lot bigger than his size, has great hips and uses his leverage well. When he’s on the field, he’s certainly an above-average center in the league. He doesn’t have any glaring holes in his game.
The problem is he’s missed a combined 23 games since being named a starter in 2014. Kilgore has seen injured reserve more than once, and it’s definitely not a good thing that he’s often thought of as one of the better linemen on the team.
He’s second only to Joe Staley in that area, in my opinion, but the position is one that needs stability. Kilgore doesn’t offer that, unfortunately. Last season, he missed three games, and in 2015, he only played in five games, starting three.
This offseason, in addition to getting rid of Martin, the 49ers added some stiff competition in the form of a Pro Bowl alternate from a year ago, Jeremy Zuttah. Most expect Zuttah will beat Kilgore in a competition and be a starter next season.
Experience: 6 accrued seasons
Weight: 308 lbs
Kilgore signed a three-year contract extension with the team around the time he earned the starting job. He has a base salary of $1.15 million for next season, and a cap hit of $1.7 million. He’s entering the final year of his contract, and if the 49ers were to release him, they would save $1.35 million against the cap, with $337,500 in dead money.
Why he might improve
Kilgore will be learning a new blocking scheme that fits his build and skillset well. He gets good push in the running game and he’s solid in the passing game. He’ll be blocking for a quarterback who is more aware in the pocket and is less capable of getting his offensive linemen into a jam. He’s always been able to pick things up quickly and has a good head on his shoulders.
Why he might regress
Kilgore is at or just past his physical peak, and the injuries have to be taking a toll on his body. I’m not an injury expert and never have claimed to be, and it’s difficult to just throw around phrases like “injury-prone.” But Kilgore has taken a beating, and he’s now got competition from a veteran who has the skill to beat him.
Odds of making the roster
Kilgore’s cap hit of $1.7 million isn’t insignificant, but it’s probably about what he’s worth, provided he’s healthy. Kilgore will probably lose the starting battle to Zuttah, but I doubt he gets released in that situation. If the 49ers feel he can contribute at the guard positions, Kilgore would be the most valuable backup on the team. I feel the odds he sticks around are very high regardless of what happens in the battle for starter.