One of the few positive things about watching NFL preseason games is getting to see which players can earn their way onto the final 53-man roster heading into Week 1 of the regular season. For the San Francisco 49ers, one such player is inside linebacker Nate Stupar.
Stupar signed by the 49ers to be part of the practice squad back in January during the 49ers’ playoff run. Entering training camp, it was safe to assume that Stupar would not make the final 53-man roster and potentially be sent back to the practice squad.
Well, Stupar clearly had other plans as he went out, took advantage of his extensive playing time during the preseason and earned his way onto the 53-roster and thus being one of the surprises on the list released on Saturday.
Now, it is clear that Stupar will very likely not see any game action during Week 1 given that he is clearly fifth on the depth chart for inside/middle linebackers, but we can count on Stupar being a part of the special teams unit. His contribution to the special teams will be valuable as his presence and determination can help lead to an improvement on kickoff returns.
In many ways, Stupar is a lot like Blake Costanzo. Costanzo was in many ways the player who was the leader of the special teams unit, and it is no coincidence that the 49ers’ kickoff unit had struggles during the 2012 season due to his absence.
With Stupar playing his way onto the 53-man roster in a surprising manner, he can stay on the active roster and solidify his spot by serving as a special teams stalwart.