It’s four days before the start of the San Francisco 49ers offseason program, and the outside linebacker has developed a pre-lunch routine. He trains at team headquarters then spends his downtime hanging out with friends in the Bay Area before starting his weekday routine all over again.
“There’s definitely a sense now of knowing where I fit in on the defense and being able to work towards that and not just generally working out,” the sixth-year pro told 49ers.com.
The 6-foot-2, 250-pound defensive and special teams contributor has settled into a role as a reserve outside linebacker for the 49ers. Skuta, however, didn’t foresee this would be his calling in San Francisco 13 months ago.
Skuta, 27, left the Cincinnati Bengals to sign a two-year contract with the team last March. He knew he would contribute on special teams, but the former inside linebacker didn’t expect to be rushing the passer.
This notion, however, wasn’t foreign to him. Skuta played defensive tackle at Grant Valley State. He went undrafted in 2009, but this didn’t stop the physical defender from finding a job in the NFL.
Nowadays, Skuta is one of several 49ers looking to get a head start on the team’s offseason workouts.
“I just wanted to come in and start the program in the best shape I can get in,” he said. “I want to show the players around here and coaches around here that I’m ready to play. I’m ready to contribute more and more.”
Skuta took on a situational role at outside linebacker. According to the count of San Francisco’s coaching staff, Skuta recorded 34 tackles. He also returned his first career fumble recovery for a 47-yard touchdown return in the team’s blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8.
The more Skuta played at outside linebacker in the team’s 3-4 scheme, the more he wanted to be a part of the action. He recorded four tackles and two sacks in the postseason. The sacks came at the expense of Cam Newton and Russell Wilson, two of the most agile quarterbacks in today’s NFL.
Skuta said he has visions of continuing those contributions in 2014.
“That’s the goal for me,” he said. “This time last year I was probably a little uncertain about what I was going to be doing, being on a new team and playing a new position compared to where I was at with the Bengals.”
Skuta walks, talks, and acts like an outside linebacker. He even thinks like one.
So when Bleacher Report listed their top 35 outside linebackers from teams using 3-4 schemes, Skuta jokingly took issue with his ranking at No. 24 on the list.
“24? I think I can do better,” Skuta tweeted earlier this week after teammate
Skuta could very well have his chance to climb his rankings with a solid offseason.
“For me personally, I thought it was cool that I was ranked,” Skuta said. “But with time, I think I’ll be ranked higher on that list.”