Let’s see a show of hands of those of you who know who Ian Silberman is. Ok, a couple of you. Well, for the rest of you, here’s a quick rundown:
Ian Silberman was a 2015 6th round pick by the San Francisco 49ers out of Boston College. He is an offensive guard who has also played some tackle and he saw all of one NFL game with the 49ers in 2015 before being among the final roster cuts prior to the 2016 season.
The Raiders signed him to the practice squad in October during last season and brought him back on a reserve/future contract.
In other words, he was a fringe guy, clinging to a roster spot. A face in a crowd.
Then Mike Tice asked him to play some center. It was a position Silberman has never played before, but the Raiders needed an extra body in there with the injury to Jon Feliciano, so they moved him.
“We talked about when I first got here,” said Silberman of playing center. “I told them I do know how to snap but I told them I just know. I’ve never done it in a game, never done it in practice really . . . but I know being a backup in this league, you have to be as versatile as possible, so I kind of threw center in there as an idea to add value for myself.”
Initially Silberman was third team behind Rodney Hudson and returning practice squad center, Oni Omoile. But soon he would move up to second team ahead of Omoile and hasn’t looked back and last Saturday, the first team interior line not playing in the game, and Feliciano still not all the way back, Silberman ended up being the only Raiders player to play every snap.
“He’s probably been the biggest story on the line the whole training camp,” said offensive line coach Mike Tice.
“He had not snapped a ball in practice,” Tice continued. “He had not snapped a ball in a game. He played every snap in the game at center and did very well. Had one mental and the mental he had, he stepped with the wrong foot. I’m very proud of him.”
There were a couple miscues by Silberman in the game, one mental as Tice pointed out, the other he was simply late on a pull block. Both resulting in run stuffs. I named him among the Busters for those miscues, but if I were grading him on a curve ie ‘all things considered’, I would have had a similar view to that of his coaches.
“He’s developing,” Jack Del Rio said of Silberman. “Mike Tice does a great job with the O-line and centers, in particular. He’s had a long history of developing guys at that position. Taking athletic guys and teaching them how to make the calls and how to snap the ball. Ian’s come a long way in a short amount of time. He’s doing a really good job. He played well the other night. That was a pleasant surprise.”
It can’t be understated how amazing it is for a player who by his own admission had never played center at any stage of his career to step into such a difficult position, and perform as well as he has.
Centers have a considerably demanding position. They must read the defense and make the line calls, snap the ball accurately whether the QB is under center or in shotgun, and then either pass block or run block.
How Tice could foresee a guy who has played only guard and tackle in his career would be able to handle those duties is kind of amazing. I asked Tice what he saw in Silberman to choose him.
“Smart,” Tice said of Silberman. “First you have to be smart to go in there and play center for us because we make all the calls, center makes all the calls. He has good movement. He moves well laterally. He can run.”
“He’s been a great story for us. He’s a tough kid. He’s a determined kid. He’s been cut before and he’s determined not to be released again. Right now he’s our No. 3 center and we’ll move him over to guard next week and let him play a little left guard and create some versatility for him and give him an opportunity to make our football team.”