The San Francisco 49ers added a pair of veteran offensive linemen this offseason, signing Jonathan Cooper in March and then Mike Person in early May. This marks Person’s second stint with the 49ers. The team drafted him in the seventh round of the 2011 NFL Draft. He spent the season inactive, and then was released as part of roster cuts in 2012 training camp.
Person bounced between the Seattle Seahawks (2012-13), St. Louis Rams (2014), Atlanta Falcons (2015-16), Kansas City Chiefs (2016-17), and Indianapolis Colts (2017). During his career he has appeared in 43 games (18 starts). He appeared in 12 games last season with the Colts.
The signing came two days after the team released offensive lineman Zane Beadles. I don’t know if the moves were exactly correlated, but it seems likely. Beadles could play all five positions on the offensive line. Erik Magnuson seems to be the eventual successor to that role, but in the meantime, Person has rotated between the guard and center positions during his NFL career.
Experience: 7 accrued seasons
Weight: 300 lbs.
Signed one year contract worth $915,000 contract with no bonuses. His cap hit is $630,000 due to the veteran minimum salary benefit rule.
How he might improve in 2018
He has been a less than stellar performer in extended appearances for the Colts and Falcons the past two seasons. However, part of that was moving into clear starting roles. He seems best suited for a depth role, which might be ideal for him with the 49ers. He could end up being the primary utility guy between guard and center. Additionally, he worked in zone concepts with the Colts last season, which puts him in position to build on that with Kyle Shanahan’s offense.
How he might regress in 2018
Person fits into that group where he might just be a league average guy and nothing more. It’s not so much a regression as we see no significant ceiling and a fairly low floor. He turned 30 this month as well, so injuries and generally breaking down could be on the horizon. There’s not much to think, “he’s going to get considerably worse,” and more just, the 49ers would rather go younger with a utility contributor.
Odds of making the roster
Laken Tomlinson seemed to be locking in a guard job, so his contract extension on Friday does not really change Person’s odds. In the offseason workout program, Person was splitting first team snaps with Joshua Garnett, while Jonathan Cooper was sidelined rehabbing his January MCL surgery. Cooper should be back for training camp, at which point we’ll see if Person really is in the mix for the starting job. My guess is no, and he gets guard and center work at that point.
If that’s the case, his biggest competition for a roster spot could be second-year lineman Erik Magnuson. The 49ers signed Magnuson as a UDFA, and he got work at different periods all along the offensive line. I have to think the 49ers are hoping to see Magnuson claim that kind of super utility role, even if Garry Gilliam claims the swing tackle role. Person has a good chance of making the roster, but I think in the end Magnuson claims it over him.