For most undrafted rookies in the preseason, lockers are short-term and opportunities on the field are even more temporary.
And with the 49ers officially wrapping up training camp practices on Thursday, solid performances at this time of the year are as imperative as ever. For each 53-man roster hopeful, every practice and every game represent a chance to impress the 49ers coaching staff.
Many of those rookies looking to catch the eye of coaches and scouts had a great stage to showcase their talents last Friday in New Orleans. Nevertheless, most of those third-stringers will look to display even more ability this Saturday in a home matchup against the Oakland Raiders.
For many, it’s going to be a crucial 60-minute period.
“This is going to determine what I do for the next three years of my life,” said undrafted Georgia defensive tackle
Players like Dobbs, who have played primarily as third-stringers, have seen tremendous growth in their own games. Working with veteran NFL players and knowledgeable coaches has given them newfound knowledge and respect for the professional game.
“I know one thing, this has to be something you commit yourself fully to,” said outside linebacker
Simmons’ goal is to let his coaches and teammates know he’s here to help the team succeed on Sundays. In his mind, personal glory can wait.
“The biggest thing for me is making the team feel like I’m someone who can help them win games,” said, Simmons, a speedy pass rushing specialist. “Sacks are great, of course I want them, but it’s all about what I can do to help this team. If I feel like I’m doing that, and they have that feeling, that’s satisfaction for me.”
On the other hand, Dobbs has one advantage over his rookie defensive counterparts like Simmons; he played collegiately in a 3-4 defensive scheme. Excluding size and speed of NFL counterparts, the biggest difference according to the 6-foot-6, 275-pounder, is gap responsibility.
“At Georgia, you played one gap as a defensive end,” Dobbs explained. “I’ve been learning how to play two gaps, controlling my gaps, and using my arms and my strengths.”
Dobbs has gained knowledge from watching his veteran teammates. He often spends time watching two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle
It’s something Dobbs aims to do himself. Blessed with long levers of his own right, the long-armed edge rusher aims to use his distinct advantage at all times.
“Creating separation against blockers is important,” Dobbs explained. “That’s when you start to make plays and tackles.”
Dobbs recorded a tackle-for-loss against the Saints, too. Undrafted Utah nose tackle
“Learning from (defensive line coach) Jim Tomsula has been tremendous. Today, I’m a whole different player,” Siliga said.
Tomsula adjusted Siliga’s stance early in camp and ever since, the 6-foot-2, 307-pound lineman has seen greater results.
“This is the first time I’ve changed up anything in my stance from college,” Siliga revealed.
While his posture might have been adjusted, Siliga’s goals remain the same. Against the Raiders, the young nose tackle plans to show off his newfound skill sets.
“I just want to be stout in the point of attack,” he explained. “If I don’t do my assignment, that could open up a crease in the middle and there goes our whole defense.”
With so much on the line, the players know this game is unlike any other they’ve played in before.
So does the Battle of the Bay matchup feel like a college bowl game in terms of importance?
“It’s nothing like a bowl game,” Dobbs said. “With bowl games, you’re out having fun. You can win or lose, but you’ll go home with your bowl gift and you’re waiting for next season. This is life or death. You’re out there playing for a position on this team.”
Notes and Quotes
Coach Harbaugh revealed his starters will play “fairly similar” the same amount as they did in New Orleans.
The 49ers coach spoke on the top performers in his first training camp. Harbaugh gushed over one player in particular, outside linebacker
“He’s having a heck of a camp, played extremely well in that ball game the other night,” Harbaugh said. “You talk about critical positions – the ability to rush the passer and drop into coverage – he’s made several plays on balls, got us the ball on defense in practice sessions. We’re pleased and encouraged by his progress and we hope he can just keep on coming at the rate he is.”
And to treat the fans, defensive tackle