SF 49ers: 5 smart decisions Kyle Shanahan made with 53-man roster

Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Kyle Shanahan, San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
2 of 6
Mark Nzeocha, SF 49ers
Mark Nzeocha #53 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) /

No. 5: SF 49ers Keeping Linebacker Mark Nzeocha

It’s not always easy for a player to regularly make a 53-man roster based on his special teams prowess alone, unless he’s a prolific returner or specialist.

So it’s understandable why veteran linebacker Mark Nzeocha would have been on the roster bubble even though San Francisco has regularly touted how good he’s been as a gunner on coverage units.

Nzeocha, who has been a finalist for a Pro Bowl special teams representative before, was in a three-way battle for one of just two backup linebacker spots on the SF 49ers depth chart along with second-year pro Azeez Al-Shaair and the veteran, Joe Walker. The other two players also have special teams prowess as well as the capability to fill in as defensive backups.

But with Walker on the out, Nzeocha made the cut.

As such, the Niners will be getting back one of special teams coordinator Richard Hightower’s favorites, and don’t overlook his elite-level 90.1 Pro Football Focus special teams grade from a season ago.

With Nzeocha back, one might expect San Francisco’s special teams unit to improve from the No. 12 ranking it had a year ago, per Football Outsiders.