Cornerback Greg Mabin faces an uphill battle to make the San Francisco 49ers’ 53-man roster this season. Niner Noise’s 2018 “Who Is?” series breaks it all down.
Mabin’s own path to the NFL was difficult. He joined the league as an undrafted free agent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bucs waived him a week later, though, and he eventually signed with the Buffalo Bills, seeing action in one game before being waived again in October.
The 49ers pounced, recognizing their own depth problems, and eventually promoted him to the active roster last November. Mabin saw action in six games, primarily due to the struggles former Niners cornerback Dontae Johnson was having late last year.
“Mabin’s been doing a great job,” 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh said last December, via Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee. “So if you see him on the field it’s not an indictment on what Dontae Johnson’s been doing as much as it is on what Mabin’s been doing in practice and giving him a chance to go put some tape on.”
All that was before the Niners added veteran corner Richard Sherman in free agency and also inked defensive back Tarvarius Moore in the 2018 NFL Draft.
With these new bodies, does Mabin have a chance to stick around this season?
Why Greg Mabin Improves in 2018
At 6-foot-1 and 200 pounds, Mabin’s physique embodies the big-bodied cornerback Saleh’s Cover 3 defense prefers.
And Mabin’s collegiate efforts at Iowa are worth noting:
Not exactly a ballhawk, Mabin is still solid in press coverage and jamming receivers at the line of scrimmage. These are good traits to have in one-on-one coverage, and Mabin adequately displayed these abilities while in college.
One should think Saleh’s scheme would be tailor made to Mabin’s best abilities. If he can hone the other aspects of his game, there’s a decent chance he makes some notable strides this season.
Why He Regresses
While Mabin is good at the line of scrimmage, his recovery speed isn’t always the best. A broken leg his senior season prevented him from running a 40-yard time in pre-draft scouting sessions, but his in-game efforts seemed to back this issue up.
San Francisco 49ers
Plus, Saleh’s defense requires a lot of zone coverage which, in turn, also requires excellent reaction abilities.
These aren’t among Mabin’s strengths. And if those are exposed between now and the start of the regular season, he’ll face that much tougher of a chance making it through roster cuts.
Chances of Making the 49ers’ 53-Man Roster
Mabin returning to San Francisco this offseason makes a lot of sense. The body type is a match, and he flashed some moments with the Niners last season.
But Mabin is likely little more than a reserve option in case Sherman, who is still not cleared from his 2017 Achilles injury, isn’t ready to go by Week 1.
That’s something of a long shot anyway, though, meaning Mabin’s chances of sticking around will hinge on his abilities to thrive when given the chance and contribute adequately enough on special teams.
It’s anyone’s guess whether or not this will be enough. As of right now, Mabin is on the weaker side of the roster bubble.
An excellent camp could change this, but it’s going to be an uphill battle nonetheless.