Coleman Shelton is a strange case to pinpoint. He is definitely one of those UDFA acquisitions that has a shot, but it’s a shot for the future. The San Francisco 49ers depth for center behind Weston Richburg is up in the air and they will be looking for someone capable of snapping the ball just as they can to play another spot on the offensive line. Which Shelton can do, but it would be concerning if it was called upon in 2018.
In the guard competition, Shelton is beat. The 49ers have too many others competing for those two guard spots. While the team may need a swing tackle, Shelton can come in as a second center or third-string guard in case of emergencies. Given this versatility that may earn him a roster spot. Unfortunately, Erik Magnuson may also be competing for just this role, and he has a season in Kyle Shanahan’s system under his belt. Suddenly, Shelton’s chances are limited. This is definitely a wait-and-see, but when watching his film, there’s definitely some talent that could pay off with patience.
Experience: Rookie Season
Weight: 299 lbs
He is on year one of a three-year deal. His salary for 2018 pays $480,000 with a prorated signing bonus of 6,666 to total a cap hit of $486,666 for 2018
What to expect in 2018
While a UDFA guard in a competition he’s definitely outclassed, snapping the ball is much more important than many realize. For that reason, we can possibly expect a third guard and a backup center out of Shelton. The problem with Shelton is he’s not ready to do either. His one-on-one blocks need work and his upper body strength from the film I watched seems average at best. For a kid his size, I’d have liked to have seen a bit more power out of him and that’s something that’s not going to improve with a single offseason. It definitely can improve though which is why the 49ers gave this cat a little extra cash in his UDFA signing. He’s a development project and the 49ers know it. He might get stashed on the roster but he’s probably not seeing the field on gameday until he gets his blocking and upper body strength under control.
Odds of making the roster
The 49ers have a center in Weston Richburg, but they could use a dedicated backup who can fill in at guard as well. That could be the competition between Shelton and Alan Knott. Both have experience playing center and both can fill in at guard. The 49ers also have someone they brought in in 2017, Magnuson who can do the same thing. John Lynch saw Magnuson as having some guard/center flex last year, so we’ll see if the same holds true for this year since Magnuson filled in at tackle instead for 2017. If Richburg goes down, it’s a toss up on who can fill in. Magnuson had his shot with the team last year and it wasn’t anything to write home about, so maybe Shelton makes a good backup? From what I watched I doubt it, but maybe he can turn it around in OTAs/training camp. Given the position, I think he has a 50/50 chance of making the roster, but it’s more on how good he can snap the ball, not on how good he can block and it’s not so he can play right away, it’s because he has promise. Regardless, he’s making the roster because of his development capability, with hope his versatility between guard and center doesn’t need to be taken advantage of until late in the season.