Shortly after the NFL Draft, the 49ers signed undrafted free agent LeRoy Vann, a kick/punt returner and sometimes cornerback out of Florida A&M. Of course, calling Vann a returner does not do justice to the havoc he caused in college as a return man.
Yesterday, his name came up in some conversation surrounding the signing of Will James. Additionally, Matt Barrows had an interesting post about Vann. At the rookie minicamp he was the only player to return punts, but beyond that the 49ers also used him at cornerback and wide receiver. Apparently in college he was moved all over the field. Even though he's a short guy for the NFL (5'8), you obviously can't teach his filthy speed.
The question is whether he can do enough to earn himself a roster spot, or will he go down as another guy that 49ers fans love, but can't quite break through? It's incredibly easy to get excited given his skills in college and the amount of playing time he saw in the minicamp. However, we do have to remember that it's just rookie minicamp. Right now he's competing with Ted Ginn and Kyle Williams for return time.
Of course, what I like is that he's working to show he can be an all around threat in the mold of a Devin Hester. Hester was drafted as a cornerback but the team intended to use him as a return specialist. And the Bears took Hester in the second round. Have the 49ers found their version of Devin Hester? Or are some of us getting a little too excited? There's no doubt Vann was awesome in college. But will it convert at the next level?
Barrows link includes a highlight package for Vann. This video is footage of Vann from GameDay when he sat down with another great return man, Desmond Howard.