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The 49ers have plenty of interesting undrafted free agents in 2013.
Undrafted free-agent list (courtesy of NFL.com):
Tennessee State C Sherman Carter; Stanford FB Alex Debniak; Minnesota QB/TE MarQueis Gray; Boise State RB D.J. Harper; Utah State WR Chuck Jacobs; Azusa Pacific OT Luke Marquardt; UCLA LS Kevin McDermott; Texas State CB Darryl Morris; Lawrence Okoye DL; Michigan OG Patrick Omameh; Wyoming DT Mike Purcell; Tulsa CB Lowell Rose; Illinois P Anthony Santella
First off, with realistic expectations in mind, every one of these individuals should be hoping to be invited to the practice squad. The 49ers B-team is not a bad place to be, considering it is just another platform for completing the final 53-man roster.
With a little luck and stick-to-it-iveness, maybe they’ll be called up in a year or two.
Right off the bat, we can dispel McDermott and Santella as legitimate candidates to make the team. Due to their positions, there is no room on San Francisco’s roster, unless injuries were to occur. But as an undrafted free agent, is McDermott a potential successor to 36-year-old long snapper Brian Jennings?
Moving on, it is important to note that all offensive linemen are in play, and any player with experience at tackle has an even better chance. The golden goose of the group is Marquardt (6’8”, 315 lbs.), who would have been drafted if not for lingering foot issues, per Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
As we can see here, there is a trend when it comes to acquiring value.
Much like Tank Carradine and Marcus Lattimore (and Michael Crabtree before that), the 49ers are taking a chance on a talented player who fell due to injury. This offseason, they will work toward getting him healthy while potentially developing him as a swing tackle.
Then there are skill position players like Morris, Jacobs, Rose and Harper. You can even throw the multitalented Gray into that group, who will be competing at several positions in camp this summer. Pending the second coming of Wes Welker or Arian Foster, these guys will take a backseat in 2013.
And finally, there is Okoye, the British Olympian who has been stealing all the headlines as the ‘Niners most freakish undrafted free-agent signing. The 6’6”, 304-pounder is just muscle piled on top of muscle, and moves well for his size, with a 4.78 40-yard time.
But the hitch is—and as most know this by now—Okoye has never played a down of organized football in his life.
No matter, the 49ers liked his upside enough that they are going to pay him $406,000 this year to learn how to play football, via Spotrac. Whether he can contribute at all over the final two years of his three-year, $1.48 million deal is yet to be determined.
Okoye is going to be taking it one step at a time, learning the game from veterans like Justin Smith and Ray McDonald. He will also have the benefit of defensive line coach Jim Tomsula, who is one of the best in the business.
Okoye is a project player who may be stashed on the practice squad as well.
Dylan DeSimone is the San Francisco 49ers Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. A former NFL journalist and fantasy football writer for SB Nation, Niners Nation and SB Nation Bay Area, Dylan now writes for B/R.
To talk football with Dylan, follow him on Twitter @DeSimone80.