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49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: Rashard Robinson

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

NFL: Preseason-San Francisco 49ers at Denver Broncos 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.

When the 49ers drafted Rashard Robinson, it was widely believed that he would be a boom or bust prospect. He had the talent to start as a true freshman at LSU at the cornerback position, but was also kicked off the team and opted to enter the draft process rather than enrol at another college.

Robinson’s decision proved to be an astute one, as the 49ers took him in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft. Furthermore, he gave a tremendous account of himself in his first offseason in San Francisco and forced himself into the cornerback rotation, where he found himself in a weekly battle to be the third cornerback behind entrenched starters Tramaine Brock and Jimmie Ward.

Fast forward ten months, and Robinson himself is the entrenched starter at corner. With 28 tackles and an interception in his rookie year, in addition to a solid if unspectacular 67.8 coverage grade from PFF, Robinson certainly rewarded the faith shown in him by the previous front office.

Now, Robinson has the opportunity to enter into the top tier of NFL cornerbacks, utilising his tremendous natural abilities, increasingly polished tools and abrasive attitude to continue to carve out his reputation as one of the most exciting young corners in the NFL.

Basic info

Height 6’1
Weight: 177 lbs (listed weight - he has reportedly put on 15-20lbs since this measurement).
Age: 21 (22 on July 23)
Experience: Second year in the NFL

Cap status

Robinson is in the second year of his four year rookie deal. He is scheduled to make $540,000 in base salary and has a cap hit of $635,848. I won’t tempt fate by leaving out his (surely entirely irrelevant) dead cap hit of $287,545 - but it would truly be an extraordinary circumstance to see Robinson fail to make this team.

Why he might improve

Before he was drafted, Robinson appeared to be a fantastic fit in a cover 3 zone/cover 1 man defense. Now, in year two in San Francisco, he finds himself in exactly this scheme.

Robinson’s biggest strength is his ability in man coverage, where he showed himself to be capable of matching up with some of the best receivers in the NFL as a rookie. Physical and aggressive, Robinson is the perfect corner for the 49ers’ new scheme, as it trends towards an increasing usage of man coverage as well as containing a healthy dose of cover 3 zone. Robinson has both the agility and lateral movement skills, as well as the acceleration and long speed, to stay with receivers throughout their routes.

Furthermore, whilst he was always aggressive in his attempts to play the ball in man coverage, by the end of his rookie season he was becoming much better at reading a quarterbacks eyes in zone and driving to make an attempt to play the ball. These abilities will serve him very well in the new scheme, where he will patrol the deep outside third in zone coverage. If he is allowed to drop and find his spot (rather than being matched up with a receiver) he will have the time to both diagnose what’s going on in front of him as well as to get into position to play passes thrown into or near to his zone.

Additionally, Robinson’s aforementioned quickness allows him to also play inside, meaning that the 49ers could move him round the formation to shadow the opposition’s number one receiver.

Excitingly, all this means that Robinson absolutely has the potential to develop into a lockdown corner at the NFL level.

Why he might regress

Given the scheme fit and his development over the course of last season, it seems highly unlikely that Robinson will regress in year two.

The only way I can see that regression becomes a distinct possibility is if he gets banged up. There has been a lot of discussion about his size - or lack thereof - since he has been in the NFL. Nevertheless he has apparently put on around 20 lbs, weight that will make him less likely to get injured and not be able to compete at 100 percent.

Odds of making the roster

Barring an apocalypse (there really would need to be one), Robinson is making the 49ers’ roster and starting on September 10th at Levi’s.