DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 02: Nathan Palmer #81 of the Northern Illinois Huskies pulls away from Gerald Moore #13 of the Ohio Bobcats to score a touchdown on a 39 yard pass play from quarterback Chandler Harnish #12 during the third quarter of the MAC Championship game at Ford Field on December 2, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Huskies defeated the Bobcats 23-20. (Photo by Mark A. Cunningham/Getty Images)
Eric Branch put together a brief piece today about wide receiver Nathan Palmer's battle to earn a roster spot, and he had a couple interesting little notes. According to Palmer, the 49ers were the first team to get in touch with him. Additionally, the 49ers apparently gave him a $10,000 signing bonus, which according to CSN (per the Branch article) was the highest bonus given to any of their undrafted free agents.
We're not exactly talking about millions of dollars, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars when it comes to undrafted free agents. However, this would seem to be evidence the 49ers like him a little more than your average undrafted free agent.
Palmer played in a spread offense at Northern Illinois, limiting his stats to a certain degree. As a redshirt junior he caught 29 passes for 532 yards and as a senior he caught 47 passes for 695 yards and rushed 21 times for 200 yards. He was also named third-team all-MAC this past season. He did not participate in the NFL Combine, but he did put up a 4.34 40 at his Pro Day.
The folks at NFL Draft Scout put together a scouting report on Palmer. In breaking down his game, they seemed to view him as a guy with excellent burst, but some issues when it came to crispness in his routes.
Palmer struggles to cleanly change directions at full speed and too often simply drifts into his routes on all areas of the field. On sharply breaking routes, he is too often forced to gear down in order to collect himself and, despite his "plus" burst, struggles to separate consistently out of his breaks because of it. He's at his best running more vertical routes where he can run through his breaks and accelerate.
Palmer could be a guy who has a solid shot of earning his way onto the practice squad. As I mentioned earlier with Chris Owusu, the wide receiver position is deep enough that undrafted free agents face as tough a battle as anybody on the 49ers roster. There are some very talented wide receivers after the "name-brand" guys, which could make for tense times at final roster cuts.
On a side note, Palmer is also a fairly accomplished vocal talent. He apparently sang the national anthem before some college and high school sporting events. Maybe we'll see him singing the national anthem before a game this season. Speaking of which, if you're interested in applying to sing the anthem before a 49ers game this season, APPLY HERE.
Palmer also put together a 2011 anthem for his Northern Illinois Huskies. :