Each year, a lot of press and attention is given to the NFL draft.
Why not? It is exciting to see top college stars find their ways onto NFL franchises. After all, these collegiate prospects are supposed to be future NFL stars after all, right?
Not so fast.
There are plenty of "diamonds in the rough" that are often found late in the draft, as well as plenty of undrafted free agents who wind up playing significant roles at the NFL level. In many cases, some of these "un-draftees" wind up being impact players who often make up that critical difference between a good team and a Super Bowl contender.
Tight end Antonio Gates and wide receiver Wes Welker were both undrafted free agents. Look at the difference each of those players made with their respective teams.
In an article written by Bob Boyles for Football.com, Boyles states that out of the last 600 players who have played in the Super Bowl, 137 of them have been undrafted free agents—22.8 percent overall.
When one thinks of a Super Bowl franchise, one might think that the team was built largely by smart drafting and development, combined with the right trades and free-agent acquisitions. It is hard to believe that nearly a quarter of these teams were comprised of players whose names were not called on draft day.
The San Francisco 49ers are no different.
After the 2013 NFL draft, San Francisco signed a total of 12 undrafted free agents. The list of these 12 can be found here. While it may be a long shot to expect any of these 12 to have impacts like those made by Frank Gore, Colin Kaepernick or Patrick Willis, some of these 12 may be able to provide that extra boost necessary to ensure that the 49ers get back to the Super Bowl and win it this time.
Here are five undrafted free agents signed by the 49ers who have a legitimate shot at becoming gems at the NFL level.