Which SF 49ers Undrafted Free Agents Have the Best Chance of Making the Roster?
The 49ers selected 11 players in the recent draft. These players will get the first chance to show they belong on the roster. Nipping at their heels are 12 undrafted free agents, (UFAs), who have an even longer shot of making the team.
Nevertheless, the dream of an NFL career lives in all of these men. The competition will be stiff and even if they do not make the 49ers' opening day roster, many of these players could earn a coveted spot on their eight-man practice squad.
In addition, with the wealth of talent on the 49ers, if a player shows well in training camp and preseason games, there is always the chance that if he's cut, another team could pick him up.
Let's take a closer look at the 49ers' UFAs and rate their chances of landing an NFL job in San Francisco.
All stats are courtesy of 49ers.com.
Lowell Rose, CB
The San Francisco 49ers have a tremendous number of defensive backs that are ahead of Lowell Rose. The odds are more than enormous for him to make the 49ers roster.
Rose, a cornerback is 6'1" and 192 pounds. In his three seasons at Tulsa, Rose started 29 games. He showed steady improvement at Tulsa and had a solid senior season. In his final year at Tulsa, Rose had 56 tackles and two interceptions. He was named honorable mention as an All-Conference USA player.
Rose's problem is that there are already 12 defensive backs ahead of him in the pecking order. With the 49ers likely to keep no more than nine defensive backs, Rose has virtually no shot at making the roster.
The absolute best he can hope for with the 49ers is a practice squad opportunity, but even that is extremely unlikely.
Sherman Carter, C
Sherman Carter has a chance to make the 49ers' opening day roster. The 49ers' starting center is Jonathan Goodwin, who will be entering his 12th NFL season.
Goodwin is in the final year of his contract and the 49ers will be looking to go younger in the future.
The primary backup at the center position is Daniel Kilgore. In addition, the 49ers signed free agent Adam Snyder, who can play any of the offensive line positions.
If Carter, who is 6'3" and 304 pounds, can perform well in training camp, he could make the team. Injuries could play a role here also, because if Snyder is needed to fill in elsewhere, that could provide an opening for Carter.
With Goodwin unlikely to return after this season, the 49ers may be looking for a way to keep Carter in the fold. He could be a very good candidate for the practice squad.
D. J. Harper, RB
D.J. Harper is a very good running back out of Boise State. Unfortunately, barring injuries to other 49er running backs ahead of him, Harper is caught in a numbers game that he will have trouble winning.
The 49ers already have Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James, Anthony Dixon and Jewel Hampton on the roster. They also drafted the highly touted Marcus Lattimore, who is likely to spend the season on IR in order to allow his knee to fully heal.
Gore is the unquestioned starter, so the keys to Harper's future are intertwined with the other backs. Hunter, who is coming off a season-ending Achilles injury is vulnerable. If he has trouble recovering completely or is hurt again, that will be one less running back to compete against Harper.
James played well in 2012, after Hunter's injury. He also showed a good burst as the 49ers' kickoff returner, following the injury to Ted Ginn Jr.. James is extremely explosive, and if he stays healthy, will be ahead of the rest of the stable of 49ers backs.
Dixon has learned to play fullback in addition to his normal halfback position. This makes him valuable as a backup to starting fullback Bruce Miller. Davis is also one of the 49ers' best special teams players, so it would be hard to envision him cut.
Hampton was on the 49ers practice squad last season. He impressed enough to warrant getting another opportunity in 2013. The 49ers like Hampton and he is ahead of Harper, as well.
Harper carried the ball 228 times in his senior season at Boise State. He gained 1,137 yards and scored 15 touchdowns.
Harper is a nice player, but when the music stops, he's unlikely to get a seat.
Darryl Morris, CB
Darryl Morris is caught in the same predicament that Lowell Rose has stepped into. There are too many defensive backs and not enough roster spots.
As a senior at Texas State, Morris played well, making 61 tackles and four interceptions. He also has great speed and could be tried as a returnman. However, the numbers catch up to Morris and he will not make the opening day roster.
The absolute best Morris can hope for with the 49ers is a practice squad opportunity.
Luke Marquardt, T
Luke Marquardt played his college football at Azusa Pacific University, but missed his senior season due to a foot injury.
Still not fully recovered, Marquardt is a unique prospect due to his size. Marquardt, at 6'8" and 315 pounds, turns heads when he walks by.
That size is something you cannot teach. Now, it will be up to Marquardt to refine his technique, if he hopes to make it with the 49ers.
The most likely scenario for Marquardt is that the 49ers will stash him on IR or the Physically Unable to Perform, (PUP), list.
Alex Boone is a classic example of a big offensive lineman that spent time on the practice squad honing his skills. In Marquardt's case, due to his slow recovery from the stress fractures in his foot, he can easily be retained.
Look for the 49ers to find a way to keep Marquardt and see if he can develop in much the same fashion they did with Boone.
Chuck Jacobs, WR
The San Francisco 49ers have a lot of players fighting for jobs at the wide receiver position. Add Chuck Jacobs to that list.
Jacobs comes to San Francisco as a 6', 178-pound wide receiver. In two seasons at Utah State, In his two seasons at Utah State, Jacobs caught 61 passes for 826 yards and seven touchdowns. He also averaged 14.3 yards on kickoff returns.
The injury to Michael Crabtree opens up an additional roster spot. The 49ers are expected to keep five wide receivers in addition to Crabtree.
Anquan Boldin has one of the jobs, but the other spot is up for grabs. Kyle Williams, A.J. Jenkins, Chad Hall, Ricardo Lockette, Joe Hastings, Quinton Patton, Mario Manningham and Marlon Moore are ahead of Jacobs.
Manningham is the only proven player of this group, and he is unlikely to be ready at the start of the season due to a knee surgery. This reduces the field down to seven vying for the four open positions.
It's a long shot, but Jacobs does have a slim chance if he can show the coaches that he can catch. If he plays well on special teams, that would also be a plus in Jacobs' favor.
If Jacobs does not make the 49ers' opening day roster, he will also be a good candidate for the practice squad.
Kevin McDermott, LS
Kevin McDermott's primary role in college football was as a long snapper.
Veteran Brian Jennings has handled these duties for the past 13 years.
McDermott will ease the preseason load off Jennings. His ability to perform the role of long snapper will also enable the kickers and punters in camp to get more work done.
Barring injury, the odds of McDermott making the roster are virtually nil. He has the look of training camp fodder.
Patrick Omameh, G
Patrick Omameh started 41 of his 45 games at Michigan. He has good size at 6'4" and 305 pounds. With a player of that size from a major college football program, not being drafted does not bode well for Omameh.
The 49ers have been going with big, tough offensive linemen. Omameh fits that mold well, but must work on his technique and footwork in order to have a chance to make the roster.
Omameh will compete against 2012 draftee Joe Looney, Daniel Kilgore, Al Netter and Adam Snyder for a backup role at the guard position.
Looney missed most of the 2012 season with a foot injury. If he has more trouble with his injured foot, it could open a door for Omameh. The more likely scenario is that he will make the 49ers practice squad.
Mike Purcell, NT
The San Francisco 49ers surprised a lot of people when they opted not to draft a nose tackle in the recent NFL draft. The losses of Isaac Sopoaga and Ricky Jean-Francois did not force GM Trent Baalke to panic.
The 49ers have Glenn Dorsey and Ian Williams who are likely to be the top two nose tackles on the depth chart. Ends Ray McDonald and Quinton Dial can also shift inside, if necessary.
The 49ers' defense, under coordinator Vic Fangio, only utilizes the nose tackle on about one-third of the defensive plays from scrimmage. In passing situations, the nose tackle will typically be removed from the game.
The odds of Mike Purcell making the roster are extremely long. Look for him to be cut long before the start of the season.
MarQueis Gray, QB-WR
One of the more intriguing prospects in this year's crop of UFAs is MarQueis Gray. He played quarterback and wide receiver in college at Minnesota.
Gray is an excellent athlete and is the type of player that can wreak havoc on an opposing defense because of his ability to line up all over the field.
Over his career at Minnesota, Gray threw for 2,053 yards and rushed for 1,731 yards.
Gray is unlikely to make the 49ers roster, but would be an excellent fit for the practice squad. With teams now moving towards mobile quarterbacks and some using the spread option, Gray would be an ideal scout team quarterback.
Alex Debniak, LB-FB
Alex Debniak was classified at Stanford as a linebacker, but the 49ers have him listed as a fullback.
The 49ers set a precedent by moving a defensive player to the fullback position. The current starter at fullback was a defensive end in college. He made a very quick transition to offense and earned a starting job as an NFL fullback.
If Debniak can make that switch, then he has a chance to make the roster. His primary competition for the backup fullback role is Anthony Dixon.
Debniak made his biggest impact as a special teams player at Stanford. If he can beat out Dixon, also a very good special teams player, Debniak has a legitimate chance to make the roster.
Lawrence Okoye, DE
Lawrence Okoye is the 49ers' most interesting and intriguing prospect among their UFAs. Okoye has never played football, but is a physical specimen and outstanding athlete.
Okoye is an Olympic finalist in the discus. He is 6'6" and 304 pounds, with the size and speed to potentially be an impact player for the 49ers.
Okoye will need to learn the game of football, along with proper techniques, but his physicality makes him a unique prospect.
Okoye burst onto the scene at the 2012 NFL Scouting Combine. He had a broad jump of 10' 5" and a 35-inch vertical leap. Okoye also ran an extremely fast 40-yard dash time of 4.78, showing off the amazing speed he possesses.
As an Olympic-caliber athlete, who has also played rugby, Okoye should pick things up quickly. He has a long way to go, however, and is unlikely to make the 49ers' opening day roster.
A more realistic and very attainable goal for Okoye this year. is as a practice squad player. This will give him an opportunity to hone his techniques and better learn the game of football.
Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke Will Have Some Tough Decisions
The San Francisco 49ers have an excess of talent and only a limited number of available roster spots. To expect any of their UFAs to make the opening day roster is a stretch.
Nevertheless, it could happen, as players often surprise or injuries can open up more roster spots. A more likely scenario is that several of these UFAs will make the practice squad, giving them a chance to hone their skills and try again in 2014.
Injuries are a reality in the NFL, so quality depth is critically important to the ultimate success of any team. Injuries also open up jobs for players that otherwise would never see the field.
The 49ers' UFAs have a tough, uphill battle to win even a practice squad opportunity, but if successful, they can use that time to develop their game. An overflow of talent is a good problem to have and the 49ers will be faced with some tough roster decisions as the season nears.
With the 49ers' singular focus being a Super Bowl title this year, every roster decision is important. Thus far, Harbaugh and Baalke have done a good job, and if that continues, the 49ers will be challenging for another world championship this season.