STANFORD, CA - OCTOBER 01: Chris Owusu #81 of the Stanford Cardinal is tackled by Andrew Abbott #26 of the UCLA Bruins at Stanford Stadium on October 1, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
In the 2012 offseason, the 49ers added some much needed depth to their team. But 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is expecting a few diamonds in the rough to come out and cause a stir. For more on the 49ers, visit Niners Nation
"Who that guy is, that newcomer, that new startup guy that's going to be more motivated. Who is going to be more talented, going to be hungrier - going to be a harder worker. Somebody that is going to come in here and kind of upset a position that's already established on this team. I know it'll be somebody," 49ers Head Coach Jim Harbaugh.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh is keeping an eye out for the next up and comer. Entering the 2012 offseason, Harbaugh, along with the front office was determined to load up Niners camp with competition at every position. For the 49ers, it was an offseason mainly dedicated to adding depth to an already stacked roster.
However, coach Harbaugh believes that not only will these guys provide depth, but he expects at least one of them to cause a stir on the depth chart. Whether it's a starting position or a featured No. 2 or No. 3 slot, he expects the new blood to make waves.
Chris Owusu, WR
Owusu was the best depth threat for Andrew Luck and the Stanford Cardinal. He's a fast, tough, versatile guy with dependable hands and playmaking ability. There were a number of pre-draft boards that had a round 2 grade on him, and in some, he was ranked higher than 49ers first round pick A.J. Jenkins.
Familiar with Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers offensive system, Owusu has an edge that other newcomers don't have. Owusu has both the tangibles and intangibles to not only make the 49ers' roster, but compete for playing time at a position San Francisco was looking to upgrade.
Kyle Williams and Ted Ginn Jr. should be wary of Owusu because he brings a similar skill set, but has the potential to be better. There's nothing fancy about Owusu but he does a lot of little things well, and when ex-players and coaches talk about greatness, that's how they describe it. Besides being a deep threat in Stanford's pro-style offense, Owusu was used to get a lot of the tough short yardage as well.
Owusu runs all the routes and is competing at a virtually wide open position group. He's got the potential to be a solid receiver for San Francisco and erase the spell of No. 81 in the Bay Area.
LaMichael James, RB
Frankly, it's hard to imagine LaMichael James not causing a stir at 49ers camp - the kid is a human highlight reel. He's also a humble youngster with a very good head on his shoulders and the desire to be great. He has a homerun hitting ability that Brandon Jacobs and Anthony Dixon do not have, and since San Francisco is looking for big plays, James could have the edge.
James also has the potential to be a better running back than second-year player Kendall Hunter. A second-round pick in 2012, James is going to be competing hard at OTA's and training camp to earn significant time during the season. If San Francisco's coaching staff sees that they got the same LaMichael James who was a regular rushing-leader in the NCAA, it'd be hard to keep him on the bench.
Their goal was to add speed and explosiveness to an offense that lacked both; they did that by drafting James. He will be used but Harbaugh and the coaches are going to need to see him earn it, which I believe he will. Whether it means carrying more running backs or Dixon and/or Jacobs being released, I wouldn't bet against LaMichael James.
Andrew Iupati, DT
The 49ers defense should remain untouched, but depth-wise, they needed to add pieces. An undrafted free agent out of Humboldt State University could bring enough tenacity to earn a roster spot and provide depth beside Ricky Jean-Francois. Younger brother of the 49ers' starting left guard, Andrew Iupati brings the same ferocity in the trenches.
At 6'1, 300-pounds, I love the idea of Iupati as an understudy to nose tackle Isaac Sopoaga. His brother was a first round selection who has started since day one. And while they are not expecting the same results out of Andrew, his similar competitiveness and toughness could help him tremendously in camp. He won't be pushing any starters for time, but the reserves should have their eye on Andrew Iupati.