Insider analysis: Jeb Terry

Who is Jeb Terry and what can he bring to the 49ers? Is the fourth-year veteran, who spent three seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but was out of the NFL last season, just a fringe player or actually somebody that can help San Francisco along the offensive line? Buccaneers' expert Matthew Postins spends some time at SFI to tell us everything there is to know about Terry.

Matthew Postins, Jeb Terry was selected in the fifth round of the 2004 NFL Draft and played in only four games his rookie season. But the Bucs were impressed enough with him to put him on the fast track to becoming a starter in 2005.

There was plenty of turnover on the Bucs' offensive line after the 2004 season thanks to injuries and free agency. The Bucs tapped Terry to be their starting left tackle in 2005 and when I spoke to him during minicamp he was excited about the prospect.

But early in training camp in 2005 Terry was injured and fell quickly out of the running for the job. Rookie Dan Buenning impressed coaches enough to give him the starting job in 2005 and Terry never did more than work on special teams that season.

Terry did finally get a start in 2006 at right guard for the injured Davin Joseph, Tampa Bay's first-round pick. But Terry had an unimpressive game against the Baltimore Ravens in the season opener and Sean Mahan was in his spot the next week.

The Bucs released Terry after the 2006 season. At 6-foot-5 and 311 pounds, Terry has solid size and speed for a guard. But the fact that he was never able to win back his job, and was ineffective in his only start, leads me to believe that he'll face an uphill battle to earn a backup job in San Francisco.

Craig Massei's take: Terry, who turns 27 next month, is said to have a mean streak in his playing style and he moves well out of his breaks, which will be an asset in Mike Martz's offense. While the 49ers are always on the lookout for versatile offensive linemen, they are looking at Terry as strictly an inside player, even though he has been tried at tackle and the team also is attempting to establish some depth there after losing Kwame Harris in free agency. But San Francisco is even more in need of depth at guard, where four-year starter Justin Smiley left to join the Miami Dolphins with a big-money deal in free agency and the team's other 2007 starter - 11-time Pro Bowler Larry Allen - is at the end of his career and not expected to return this season, though he has not yet officially retired. Terry looks more like a contingency plan than anything at this point, giving the 49ers a guard with NFL experience in case Allen does decide to hang it up and San Francisco is unable to land some solid guard prospects in the draft, where the team is expecting to find some help for their offensive line in general and the guard position in particular. The only other guards currently on the roster are veterans Davis Baas and Adam Snyder - who would be penciled in as the starters as of today - and Tony Wragge, who can play both guard and center. It might not be a coincidence that the 49ers signed Terry a day after they were stripped of a fifth-round selection in the upcoming draft by NFL commission Roger Goodell as a penalty for tampering with Chicago linebacker Lance Briggs. That fifth-rounder would have been a prime selection to use on a guard prospect, and now the 49ers - who figured to use as many as two of their seven selections on offensive linemen in April - now have only six picks, and that could cut into the team's flexibility in adding linemen through the college lottery. Terry doesn't appear to be starter material, but he's a guy who can challenge to make the team and earn a niche as a reserve, and his experience playing on special teams also is a plus.

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