The San Francisco 49ers took care of some business earlier today as they signed seven players to Future/Reserve contracts. Players eligible for these contracts cannot have been on the active roster the previous season. It more or less gets them a possible invite to offseason training activities and training camp. The players signed include C Chase Beeler, T Derek Hall, FS Mark LeGree, DB Cory Nelms, WR Kyle Nelson, TE Konrad Reuland and LB Michael Wilhoite.
In some sense, these deals are sort of like when the team signs rookie free agents after the NFL Draft. It's not exactly the same, but it is similar in that these are normally long-shots to make the roster. It is entirely possible some will step up, in part because they have some NFL experience at this point. Five ended the season on the 49ers practice squad, Mark LeGree spent two weeks on the practice squad, and Kyle Nelson spent some time with the Chiefs and Saints.
Cory Nelms is one particularly intriguing prospect and he will get a chance to battle for cornerback time next season. The cornerback position will be interesting whether or not Carlos Rogers returns. Shawntae Spencer could very well be released and Nelms will battle with Curtis Holcomb who is returning from injured reserve.
Konrad Reuland will get a chance to battle for playing time as well. The 49ers have Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker coming back, but also have Nate Byham coming off injured reserve. Justin Peelle is a free agent and I would imagine the team will probably let him walk.
Chase Beeler is also in an interesting position. The 49ers could let Chilo Rachal walk, which means if Beeler can show some promise as a utility interior lineman, he might find a spot on the 53-man roster. OTAs and training camp will feature a whole host of intriguing position battles.
Chase Beeler (6-3, 285) originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent on July 27, 2011. He spent the entire season on the 49ers practice squad.
Derek Hall (6-5, 307) spent the entire season on the 49ers practice squad after signing with San Francisco on July 27, 2011.
Mark LeGree (6-0, 210) was originally a fifth round draft choice (156th overall) by the Seattle Seahawks in the 2011 NFL Draft and was later released following training camp. He then was signed to the Arizona Cardinals practice squad on September 21 and later released on October 5. LeGree signed with the 49ers on November 15 and was released on November 29.
Cory Nelms (6-0, 195) originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent on July 27, 2011. He remained on the 49ers practice squad the entire season. Nelms was awarded the Thomas Herrion Memorial Award, presented to the 49ers rookie or first-year player who best represents the dream of Thomas Herrion. The award is voted on by the coaches.
Kyle Nelson (6-3, 240) went undrafted out of New Mexico State and spent time with the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs this season. He played tight end for the Aggies from 2007-10 and recorded 66 receptions for 559 yards and scored two touchdowns.
Konrad Reuland (6-4, 260) originally signed with the 49ers as an undrafted free agent on July 27, 2011. He spent the entire season on the 49ers practice squad.
Michael Wilhoite (6-0, 240) entered the NFL for the first time when he signed with the 49ers practice squad on December 14, 2011. He signed with the Omaha Nighthawks of the UFL as an undrafted free agent in 2011. Wilhoite starred collegiately at Washburn University. He played in 44 games (35 starts), registered 211 tackles and three interceptions, and was named honorable mention All-MIAA, as a senior.