Roster day continues here at Niners Nation. On Tuesday, this was going around on Twitter. Fans of teams are trying to decide who their teams breakout guy will be, comeback kid, rising star, don’t forget about, and needs to rebound. For the San Francisco 49ers, this is especially interesting. So many young guys played in 2018 that you can have legit arguments for each. Let’s start with the “breakout” player.
Breakout player- Mike McGlinchey
Our own Mark Saltveit thinks it’s newcomer Jordan Matthews. I’ve also seen some fans say Matthews might be a surprise cut candidate come August.
Can an offensive lineman breakout? I think so. My answer is McGlinchey. Last year, the 49ers struggled to run the ball off right tackle. They were 26th in the NFL. That’s all on McGlinchey by any means. Assuming the injury bug doesn’t decimate the roster again in 2019, the production running the ball behind McGlinchey will be much improved. If the 49ers are able to put up big numbers, it’ll be because their offensive line took the next step forward.
I imagine everyone will look much better with Jimmy Garoppolo under center, and McGlinchey is the biggest beneficiary here.
Comeback kid- Jimmie Ward
The front office is banking on Ward. He really doesn’t have much of a choice. It’s quite the gamble. Ward appeared in 16 games just once over the course of his five years in the NFL. This will be the best defensive line Ward has played with by a good margin. Assuming he is indeed the free safety, the do-it-all safety rewards the front office by playing a full season and playing to his full ability.
Rising Star- Fred Warner
Warner will be another player that benefits from the added help in front of him. Warner was sound as a rookie, and that’s exactly the type of player you need in Robert Saleh’s defense. Someone that knows where to be and doesn’t mess up their assignments. Another year under Warner’s belt and I believe we’ll see the missed tackles go down. He’s already all over the place. Of the all the 49ers on defense, Warner feels like the safest bet to be a rising star.
Don’t forget about- Weston Richburg
In hindsight, giving Richburg a five-year, $47.5 million deal doesn’t look great judging by how Richburg played in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded Richburg as a 51.9 overall grade, which put him 33rd among 38 qualifiers. He also surrendered four sacks (tied for second most) and 23 quarterback hurries (tied for third most) on the year.
Richburg was really good in his four-year stint with the New York Giants. A concussion in 2017 cut his season short. Last year, he was obviously hindered by injury. Richburg had surgery to clean up what was causing problems in his knee and quad back in January. A full recovery, and we should see the Richburg that deserved the contract he received last offseason.
Needs to rebound- Jaquiski Tartt
Tartt has too much talent to play like he did in 2018. What Tartt showed in 2017 was a Pro Bowl level player. Injuries and inconsistent play has derailed a promising career. In 2019, it’s time for Tartt to make it happen for 16 games. He’s another player the front office is banking on to perform.