49ers Veterans Fighting for Roster Spots
Every year, training camp brings heated position battles and inevitably leaves some good players, both young and old, out of a job. The 49ers have an infusion of youth spearheading a majority of the starting roles which could lead to some seasoned veterans on the outside looking in.
Along with Pierre Garcon, Aldrick Robinson was signed last offseason partly because of his experience with Kyle Shanahan. He had played previously under Shanahan in both Washington and Atlanta. Robinson was a rotational receiver who posted the second best season of his career last year. He managed to reach paydirt in Week 6 against Washington and Week 17 against Rams-Lite. However, Garcon is coming back healthy and the team drafted Dante Pettis and Richie James to compete for roster spots. With the development of Marquise Goodwin, Trent Taylor and Kendrick Bourne, Robinson faces a serious uphill battle to retain his roster spot. He will need to supplant at least one of those receivers on the depth chart because it is hard to see them keeping more than seven on the 53-man.
Garry Gilliam was signed last year to be the primary swing tackle behind incumbent bookends Joe Staley and Trent Brown. He saw limited snaps until playing 20 against the Cowboys and 15 against the Eagles, in which he suffered a season-ending knee injury. Despite signing a two-year extension in February, Gilliam will face competition from Erik Magnuson and Mike Person for the swing tackle position. Both of those players also bring the added bonus of being able to serve as a backup for multiple OL spots. If outright released, Gilliam would represent $2.15M in dead money but that is just a drop in the bucket for a team with more than $45M in cap space.
It is not a stretch to say that Earl Mitchell is one of the 53 best players on the current 49ers roster. Mitchell stepped in as the veteran leadership among a young and inexperienced defensive front after three years in Miami. He did make some splash plays during last season, most notably the hfourth-and-1 stop against the Texans, and generally played the role of nose tackle well. However, the coaching staff may look to get younger along the line and, at 30, Mitchell is the oldest member of the group by five years. D.J. Jones was drafted in the sixth round of last year’s draft and showed some flashes of solid play that could force the team’s hand moving forward. Much like Aldrick Robinson, Mitchell could be a victim of a numbers game where the team sees more value in having depth at other position groups. His $2.6M in.
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