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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: Keith Reaser

Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). Today we move on to cornerback Keith Reaser.

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Kelley L Cox-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.

Another member of Trent Baalke’s All-ACL team, Reaser was a fifth round draft pick in the 2014 NFL Draft. He has so far been a “nearly” man in San Francisco. In each of the past three off-seasons, Reaser has generated hype as a possible starter before ultimately failing to achieve those lofty heights on the depth chart.

2016 was nevertheless something of a career year for Reaser as he appeared in 15 games, made 26 tackles and had 5 passes defensed. He has once again garnered hype this offseason as a potential starter. Two of the three starting corner spots available (if you include nickel corner) and Reaser is capable of playing both. He certainly has a shot at making one of those spots his own.

Training camp and the preseason will be huge for Reaser. He will be a very interesting player to watch as he enters the final year of his rookie contract with a point to prove and future employment to earn, in the Bay or elsewhere.

Basic info

Height: 6’0
Weight: 190 lbs
Age: 25 (26 on July 31)
Experience: 3 accrued seasons

Cap status

Reaser is entering the final season of his rookie contract. He has a cap hit of $731,200 in 2017 and a dead cap hit of $41,200 if he fails to make the 49ers’ roster.

Why he might improve in 2017

Last year Reaser demonstrated a decent cover ability, particularly in man coverage. Where he particularly stands out from the competition however is athletically, and with his ability to play both inside and outside. Even if Reaser ended up being the third corner, he would give the 49ers the ability to let Rashard Robinson track receivers all over the field, as Reaser is capable of playing wherever Robinson was not (ie. Reaser inside whilst Robinson outside and vice versa).

It is also interesting that Reaser found himself above Dontae Johnson on the depth chart last year, despite the 49ers being a press heavy team. With the same defensive backs coach and a similar press-heavy plan, Reaser could find himself ahead of Johnson at this stage. If he gets consistent snaps, we could see further improvement from Reaser.

Why he might regress

Reaser could end up finding himself buried on the depth chart, either if he fails to perform well or if he is simply outperformed by the other corners on the roster. He lacks the desired height for an outside corner in this scheme and based on the reports I have seen, is focussing largely on outside corner whilst Will Redmond and K’waun Williams battle it out for the nickel role. If Reaser finds himself beaten out for each spot, he is unlikely to come close to matching his playing time last season and, even if he doesn't actually regress as a player, this season would be viewed as a step back.

Odds of making the roster

Another strong bubble player, and much like Dontae Johnson, Reaser could be a starter in September or be looking for a new team. His versatility will certainly be attractive but barring an unforeseen AJ Bouye-esque explosion of a season, we probably know what Reaser’s level is - a good, versatile backup.