Now that OTAs have officially ended, we must endure the dreaded six-week hiatus, while patiently waiting for training camp to begin. In the meantime, I’ll be discussing three players who must really show out in order to secure a roster spot.
There seems to be a collective excitement about 49ers running back Joe Williams. All the way from the top of the organization to the fanbase, folks were eagerly waiting for a backfield combination of speed (Matt Breida), power (Carlos Hyde), and agility/combo back, which is where Williams came in. Despite showing flashes when given the opportunities, injuries kept Williams from seeing regular season action last year. It will certainly be an uphill battle going into 2018. Williams had a decent 2017 preseason, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, but ball security was a huge concern for the coaches and staff. Hopefully, that won’t be a lingering issue going into the new campaign. The Niners aren’t extraordinarily deep at the running back position; however, the talent that Williams will be competing against for a backup role(Raheem Mostert, Malcolm Johnson & Jeremy McNichols) is no walk in the park. Needless to say, I’m looking forward to a fun, competitive running back battle.
There is a ton of competition all throughout the Niners lineup, especially at the wide receiver position. A person that’s all too familiar with that statement is Aldrick Robinson. The six-year vet has a fairly difficult road ahead of him. During the 2017 season, Robinson amassed only 19 catches for 260 yards, with two touchdowns to his credit. This year’s WR competition is even more stacked, thanks in large part to the emergence of undrafted free-agent Kendrick Bourne last year. The Niners have also added two young studs to bolster their roster in 2018. Dante Pettis and Richie James are both slated to have an immediate impact this season because of their intangibles on special teams. This may be the deciding factor for Robinson’s spot on the Niners.
During the dog days of OTAs & camps, players are constantly looking over their shoulders for the next man up…to take their spot!! From veterans to rookies, everyone must remain in attack mode. Even established guys such as defensive tackle Earl Mitchell still have to go and deliver a lights-out performance just to secure a spot. Regardless of his efforts, sometimes it’s simply a numbers game which is not determined by the player’s production. Mitchell didn’t fill up the stat sheet in 2017, accumulating only 19 tackles & one sack, but his disruptive presence was enough to allow his teammates to reap the benefits of his work. The Niners have pretty good depth along the defensive line, so it’ll be interesting to see how Mitchell works himself onto the final 53.
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