Player #1: Chad Slade
To say that Chad Slade, a 6-foot-5, 315-pound lineman, has an excellent chance to make this roster is an understatement. He has played terrifically on the offensive line as of late and I do believe he’s now in the moment where he’s finally starting to hit his stride.
An undrafted free agent out of Auburn U that has been on this roster since the 2015 season, he finally is hitting a point in his short career where has seen an elongated stretch of health. He had the previous two seasons nursing maladies on the injured reserve list. I personally didn’t have him make my 53-man roster for 2017 but I stashed him on the practice squad for additional development.
He actually made the Houston Texans roster late last season because of all of the injuries that occurred and there has been no looking back for him. His appearance last season was the first of his NFL career where he had the opportunity to appear in five games — three starts — at guard. He also has the ability to play tackle — another excellent quality he possesses — but his versatility is what is going to keep him on this roster.
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Lest we not forget that he got the call to bolster Auburn’s offensive line as a freshman in college when a few injuries put guys on the shelf. The rest is history — he went on to complete 49 starts in his collegiate career and pivotal component of their success, no matter how much or little.
Slade is hoping to get that opportunity this time as he’s getting the call because there is a tremendous need for depth in this unit.
According to Pro Football Focus (subscription required), Slade took 175 snaps in the five games that he appeared in and was able to eke out 63.6 overall grade, 60.0 pass block grade and 61.9 run block grade in that final stretch of 2017. He had only one penalty.
Although a grade of 70 or better is passing, he still was the 7th highest-ranked offensive player for 2017 and the top-graded offensive lineman as well. To put things in perspective, Duane Brown had the same score as Slade in his one game that appeared against the Seattle Seahawks to it goes to show you how great of a track that he’s on to succeed.
He took 28 snaps at right guard as well as seven snaps at right tackle last week and I expect his workload to be about the same for the 49ers. He received a 69.5 overall grade, a 79.0 PBG and a 63.7 RBG. He allowed two pressures, one quarterback pressure and a hit but I still feel he’s on an upward trend at this moment. Keep an eye out for the Slade!