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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: Jimmie Gilbert

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today we move on to linebacker Jimmie Gilbert

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NCAA Football: Washington State at Colorado Ron Chenoy-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.

Jimmie Gilbert was an UDFA pickup of the 49ers out of Colorado. He received the second highest UDFA guarantee on among the 49ers players, getting $62,000 between a signing bonus and base salary guarantee. This would demonstrate the team’s belief that he could amount to something as an NFL player.

Gilbert played every game in his four year career, but it wasn’t until his senior year that he became a full time starter. He nevertheless exploded as a starter, recording 51 tackles (37 solo), including 10.5 sacks and forcing six fumbles. He had a fantastic performance in his bowl game, recording five tackles, including two for losses and a sack, along with a hurry against Oklahoma State. 33 percent of his plays in college were made behind the LOS, demonstrating his playmaking abilities at that level. He was particularly effective at forcing fumbles by attacking the quarterback’s throwing arm.

His performances resulted in him becoming the first Colorado player to earn Associated Press All-America honors since 2011. He was also a first-team All-Pac-12 selection by the Associated Press and the league coaches, becoming his college’s first defensive player to collect All-Pac-12 honors since they joined the conference in 2011 and he got votes on SB Nation’s All-America team.

Despite this, Gilbert was a Combine snub. However, his pro day numbers would have ranked top-10 at the combine amongst edge players in the 40-yard dash (4.68), vertical jump (37 inches) and broad jump (10 feet). On the other hand, Gilbert’s 12 bench press reps would have been worst in the edge class and are demonstrative of the lack of playing strength that shows up on film.

Basic info

Height: 6’4
Weight: 231 lbs
Age: 22
Experience: Rookie

Cap status

Gilbert has a cap hit of $469,000 in 2017 and a dead cap hit of $62,000 if he fails to make the 49ers’ roster.

What to expect in 2017

Gilbert is a pass-rushing outside linebacker/undersized defensive end and therefore a SAM or a late down edge rusher in this scheme. His father was a basketball player for the Chicago Bulls and Gilbert has something of a musclebound basketball player look about him at 6’4, 231 lbs. He has outstanding length (at 6’4 and his arms have been reported as 34 inches) and athleticism, natural traits that make him an intriguing option as a pass rusher, where he shows a clear understanding of how he can use his length. He can prevent tackles from getting into his body and can be incredibly effective when he manages this.

His production translated to a pass rushing grade of 81.2 and a pass rushing productivity that ranked No. 28 in college football, per PFF. His pass rushing productivity was only marginally worse than Jordan Willis. Nevertheless, his lack of functional strength limits his power rushing moves and prevents him from translating speed to power. He relies on his long arms and speed to beat tackles at this stage and can be stonewalled if they get their hands on him.

Gilbert also showed some ability against the run in college though it is highly unlikely that this translates to the NFL at this stage. His aforementioned lack of strength affects him here. Gilbert needs to add strength and improve his tackling considerably to be a viable option on running downs - the crucial part of a SAM linebackers role in the 49ers’ scheme. He possesses good speed as a pursuit defender however, and this speed also allows him to function in space as a cover man. If he improves in space, Gilbert could develop into a WILL linebacker.

Odds of making the roster

Right now Gilbert faces a steep battle to make the 53 man roster, but some of his tools and his resultant potential will undoubtedly make him a hard man to cut. Currently competing as a SAM linebacker, he could challenge the underwhelming Eli Harold for a roster spot, or the team might choose to keep him over a lower level stack backer if he proves to be one of the team’s better pass rushes as well as demonstrating his special teams prowess and the coverage abilities to potentially play some WILL linebacker in spot duty. I think he’s a practice squad candidate given his lack of functional strength suggests he will struggle as a SAM right now in the NFL. However, his tools could see him sneak onto the roster as a specialist pass rusher, special teamer, and possible cover at both SAM and WILL linebacker.