49ers’ 2018 ‘Who Is?’ series: Wide receiver Aldrick Robinson

SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 24: Aldrick Robinson #19 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after a catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images)
SANTA CLARA, CA - DECEMBER 24: Aldrick Robinson #19 of the San Francisco 49ers reacts after a catch against the Jacksonville Jaguars during their NFL game at Levi's Stadium on December 24, 2017 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Robert Reiners/Getty Images) /

Niner Noise’s 2018 “Who Is?” series looks at a player possibly on the fringes of the San Francisco 49ers roster, wide receiver Aldrick Robinson, and if he makes the cut this season.

A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers‘ new regime of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan brought aboard veteran wide receiver Aldrick Robinson on a two-year deal primarily because Robinson knew Shanahan’s offense. And Shanahan knew Robinson.

Robinson worked under Shanahan when both were with the Atlanta Falcons in 2016, as well as the Washington Redskins from 2011 through 2013. It wasn’t uncommon to see the 2017 Niners bring aboard players familiar with Shanahan’s complex offense.

And Robinson was such a commodity.

Taken by the Redskins in Round 6 of the 2011 NFL Draft, Robinson spent most of his rookie year on the team’s practice squad. Ever since, he’s mostly been a fringe receiver never having accumulated more than 365 yards in a single season:

Aldrick Robinson Receiving & Rushing Table
3 yr3 yrWAS363653060820.35680.816.9
1 yr1 yrATL161322032316.22591.320.2
1 yr1 yrBAL200000.00.0
1 yr1 yrSFO161481926013.72451.216.3

Provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 6/27/2018.

The 29-year-old Robinson enters this season on the back end of San Francisco’s depth chart. Last year, he had the bonus of understanding Shanahan’s offense. In 2018, he no longer is alone in that luxury. Especially with a number of other returning veterans vying to climb the depth chart.

If Robinson hopes to make the cut this season, he’ll have to do more than just impress in training camp. He’ll have to beat out some of the younger, more promising competition outright.

Here’s how.

Why Aldrick Robinson Improves in 2018

Robinson fits the bill for a Shanahan-esque receiver — short-statured but boasting plenty of speed.

At the 2011 NFL Scouting Combine, Robinson ran a 4.43 40-yard time, which was classified him as a top performer at the position. Soon to turn 30 years old this season, some may argue Robinson could lose a step or two. It wouldn’t be shocking. But his straight-line speed could still be something of noted value to the 49ers offense.

Robinson’s 5-foot-10, 187-pound frame doesn’t exactly equate to physicality. If he can finally capture both his speed and route-running abilities, meshing them into one uber-trait of sorts, he’ll be able to showcase more impact ability.

Why He Regresses

Age concerns aside, Robinson has never been touted as a great route runner — inherent in Shanahan’s offense.

And while Robinson has the bonus of working under Shanahan for five of his six years at the pro level, all one needs to do is look at the stats and see the wide receiver isn’t exactly a prime benefactor of Shanahan’s play-calling.

San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco 49ers /

San Francisco 49ers

Even when San Francisco’s No. 1 wideout, Pierre Garçon, went down with a season-ending neck injury halfway through the season, Robinson never truly emerged as the go-to replacement. Tack on the Niners’ 2018 NFL Draft selections of receivers Dante Pettis and Richie James, and Robinson’s future with the franchise is doubtful at best.

Chances of Making the 49ers’ 53-Man Roster in 2018

Well, they’re not good. At least four of the likely six spots on San Francisco’s wide receiver depth chart are filled — Garçon, Pettis, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor. Second-year wideout Kendrick Bourne is strongly in the mix, and James has a solid chance on the stronger side of the bubble.

Barring injury to one of the aforementioned names, there’s simply no room for Robinson on the regular-season roster.

Combine this with the mere $150,000 in dead money (with $2.05 million in cap saving) if Robinson is cut, the 49ers might be better off parting ways prior to Week 1 to open up a roster spot for someone else at another position.

That’s likely what happens to Robinson at some point during the preseason. He might see a good deal of “featured time” in the Niners’ fourth, and final, exhibition game to market his talents to 31 other teams.

Next: 49ers offseason positional preview: Wide receiver

But that would probably be the last time we’d see Robinson don the red and gold.