Each year, we like to run a series of posts called "90-in-90." The idea is that we'll take a look at every player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few ways. This roster will certainly change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not exactly 90 players in 90 days. At this point, it's a name we're keeping around for street cred.
The San Francisco 49ers signed safety James "L.J." McCray as an undrafted free agent, shortly after the 2014 NFL Draft came to a close. McCray played at Division II Catawba College, where he started as a cornerback before moving to safety. How did the 49ers find McCray? It likely was due to the eye of Jim Tomsula, a Catawba College alumni. He met McCray at the 2012 senior night game. I have to think Tomsula's meeting had some kind of influence on the eventual signing. Division II football players do not just drop out of the sky to teams.
Given his D-II background, there is not a lot of content on his college days. It does not help that the Catawba athletic website is down. But I did find a few things that were interesting:
What to expect in 2014:
Although the safety position does not have a ton of depth, it seems highly likely that McCray ends up on the practice squad. Vic Fangio has praised McCray, but also indicated he has a lot to learn:
"He's done well for a small school guy. He's got good ability. He's got good speed and he's tough. Shows some instincts. He's got to learn a lot. And that can be a slow process at times for these guys. But, I do like what he's shown and he's got some potential."
This is not surprising given the level of college football at which he played. He gets to work with a great secondary coach in Ed Donatell, but he's got a sizable learning curve. Even if he struggles in the preseason, I think he joins Kory Faulkner as a very likely practice squad candidate.
Odds of making the roster:
Barring some shocking revelation, he won't be on the 49ers 53-man roster this year. However, I think his chances of making the 49ers practice squad are very good. A strong camp could get him plucked to another team's 53-man roster, but that aside, I see McCray on the practice squad this year. If the 49ers are happy with what they've seen thus far in the offseason workout program, they very well could go the Darryl Morris route and try and "hide" McCray in the preseason. Get him some snaps, but nothing too extensive so there is not a lot of film on him.