49ers roster breakdowns, 90-in-90: OG Brandon Fusco
Breaking down the 90 players on the 49ers offseason roster in 90 posts (over 90 or so days). We move on to offensive guard Brandon Fusco.
Each year, we run a series of post called “90-in-90” here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we’ll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we’ll have more than one so it’s not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers are looking for ways to improve three straight years of poor offensive line play, and veteran additions are the short-term option. The team added Garry Gilliam, Tim Barnes, and Brandon Fusco in free agency, while also trading for Jeremy Zuttah.
The 49ers wrapped up their offseason workout program last week, and the most notable offensive line competition for the time being might be at guard. The 49ers have Fusco competing with Joshua Garnett and Zane Beadles for the two starting guard spots. Beadles and Garnett held them down last year (along with Andrew Tiller), but John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have made it clear there will be open competition up and down the roster.
Fusco joins the 49ers after spending the first six years of his career with the Minnesota Vikings. He was a sixth round pick in the 2011 NFL draft, and since then has appeared in 67 games, making 64 starts. In 2016, he started 14 games at right guard, and ranked among the ten worst guards in PFF’s pass blocking efficiency stat.
Age: 28 (29 on July 26)
Experience: 6 accrued seasons
Weight: 306 lbs
Signed a one-year contract for $ 1.4 million. He received a $ 100,000 signing bonus, and is due a $ 1 million base salary. He can earn up to $ 300,000 in incentives. He had previously been cut by the Vikings three seasons into a five-year, $ 24.25 million contract.
Why he might improve in 2017
He’s coming off back-to-back poor seasons, which followed a season on injured reserve. He remains a solid run blocker, but struggles as a pass blocker. In 2013, PFF rated him as a top five run blocker, and No. 8 overall among guards. Maybe a change to Shanahan’s system can get him back on track this season. If that happens, he will take one of the starting guard roles, with Beadles being the one most likely to lose his job.
Why he might regress in 2017
A change of scenery could help him, but two straight poor pass blocking seasons is closer to a trend than a one-off issue. He could simply be losing the skills that netted him the big five-year extension three years ago. If that’s the case, he gets cut by the end of training camp.
Odds of making the roster
He stands a very good chance of making the 53-man roster out of camp, and even landing a starting guard job. Where it gets interesting is if he does not claim the starting job. The team added Tim Barnes and Garry Gilliam in free agency, with Barnes competing at center, and Gilliam competing at right tackle. The team acquired Jeremy Zuttah via trade, and he is competing with Daniel Kilgore for the starting center job.
If Zuttah wins the job as many expect, Kilgore also has reserve guard experience to go with his center work. Would it become a competition between Kilgore, Fusco, and Barnes for one or two roster spots?
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