Finding Hidden Gems on 49ers 2016 Roster
Brandon Thomas – Guard
The Niners need to find out once and for all if they have anything with this guy. Brandon Thomas is a borderline bust at this point, though with only two years of league experience it is difficult to place him in this category.
He was a third-round pick in the 2014 draft, and after suffering a torn ACL, was considered a steal as he was graded as being a first or second-round talent.
However, despite all the issues with Jordan Devey, Marcus Martin and Erik Pears last season, Thomas failed to get on the field and play.
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No official reason was ever given on why he didn’t play, though the obvious reason was he wasn’t considered good enough by the coaching staff, or he was still not fully healthy.
He won’t be a starter in 2016, but the O-line needs quality depth and players who can come in and contribute without dropping the standard by a large margin. Whether Thomas can become one of those players or not is the question.
The Niners have a new offensive line coach in Pat Flaherty (formerly of the New York Giants) who has an excellent league reputation for getting the talent out of his players. NBC Bay Area’s Doug Williams explains:
"Head coach Chip Kelly hired Pat Flaherty as offensive line coach, and perhaps Flaherty can get more out of Thomas. After all, the entire 49ers offensive line seemingly performed below par in 2015, and Flaherty – the longtime offensive line coach under Tom Coughlin for the New York Giants – has a successful track record."
If it is a mental problem or a technique problem with Thomas, Flaherty should be the man to get him to turn his performance around. There was a reason Baalke drafted him in the third-round. He must have some talent. If he can show this talent, then he becomes a hidden gem who can add value to the line.
If he can’t add the necessary value (certainly by the end of training camp) he will be a roster casualty, and he will be another “Baalke Bust”.
Next: San Francisco 49ers: Training Camp Start Set for July 30
All statistics, records and accolades courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Sports-Reference.com and 49ers.com unless otherwise indicated.