Yesterday, we took a look at the pre-NFL injuries of the San Francisco 49ers 2014 NFL Draft class. Today, we're back with a look at the 49ers modest UDFA class. The 49ers had another large draft class, leaving them little room for undrafted free agents. There are a few injuries of note, but for the most part it was a fairly healthy UDFA class.
Shayne Skov, LB, Stanford
Once Skov went undrafted in May's draft, a lot of people figured the 49ers were a logical landing place. Although the team normally has Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman manning the middle of the field, a spot opened up with Bowman's knee injury. Michael Wilhoite and Chris Borland are the front-runners to handle the starting role, but Skov will enter training camp with the benefit of also having worked with Vic Fangio at Stanford.
The problem for Skov, and the problem that derailed his chances at being drafted, is his injury history. Among the 49ers rookies, his road has been among the most severe. His first injury was in 2010. After playing in all 13 games as a true freshman in 2009, Skov missed the first two games of the 2010 season with a bursa sac injury suffered in training camp. He returned and was the team's leading tackler. In 2011, he made three starts, and then suffered a brutal knee injury that saw him tear his left ACL and MCL, and also fracture his tibia. He underwent three surgeries to clean that up.
Skov said he did not feel fully recovered until the latter half of the 2013 season. He got back to play in 2012, and put together a solid season, but in 2013 he was again the team's leading tackler, and a Butkus award finalist. The only notable injury he suffered in 2013 was a hyperextended right knee against Washington. He did not miss any time, and it was part of a bit of controversy in which Washington coach Steve Sarkisian questioned Cardinal injuries during the game.
This past spring, Skov was medically excluded from the NFL Combine because of a calf injury, and then he suffered a hamstring injury preparing for the Stanford Pro Day. He worked out for scouts in April, and a 5.11 40-yard dash did nothing to dispel concerns that the injuries had cost him his speed. He was projected by some as a mid-round pick prior to the NFL Combine, but the calf and hamstring injuries likely were the reason he slipped out of the draft.
Skov took part in the 49ers workout program, and there is no indication that he will not be ready for the start of training camp.
Fou Fonoti, OT, Michigan State
Fonoti spent his entire college career at offensive tackle, primarily on the right side. However, it is possible he could slide inside, particularly with Alex Boone a question mark to be at training camp. His best roster chance is likely on the practice squad, although it could be tough with the 49ers having several offensive linemen with practice squad eligibility.
The only notable injury Fonoti suffered during his college years was a broken foot in 2012. Fonoti broke his foot in the week of practice leading up to their Week 3 matchup against Notre Dame. The injury cost him the final 11 games of the season. The injury seems to be in the past, as he played in all 14 games in 2013, including 11 consecutive starts to close out the season.
Kory Faulkner, QB, Southern Illinois
49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh first came upon Faulkner at the Northwestern University Pro Day. Harbaugh was in town to check out Eastern Illinois QB Jimmy Garoppolo, but he also got a chance to check out Faulkner. After that initial visit, QB coach Geep Chryst broke down film on Faulkner. Harbaugh met with Faulkner one-on-one, and they figured out there was a connection.
Faulkner's best roster chance this year is likely to be with the practice squad. He got all the team reps at rookie minicamp, but odds are pretty good that he won't see a ton of reps in training camp. The upside to him getting the reps at minicamp is we know he is likely pretty healthy. Faulkner suffered a broken finger on October 19 against North Dakota State. He was out for four weeks, which covered SIU's bye and three games. He returned for the season finale against Indiana State, in which he completed 11 of 17 passes for 131 yards.
Dillon Farrell, C, New Mexico
The 49ers signed a versatile player in Farrell. Over the course of his career at New Mexico, Farrell played center, left tackle, and right tackle. In 2010, as a redshirt freshman, Farrell started all 12 games at center. As a sophomore, he appeared in all 12 games, with 6 starts at right tackle, two starts at left tackle, and one start at center. As a junior he started all 13 games at center.
In his final season at New Mexico, he started 11 more games at center, and missed one game with an MCL sprain. He injured the MCL in Week 2 against UTEP, and missed the team's week 3 contest against Pittsburgh. The Lobos had a bye the following week, which gave Farrell enough time to get back for their next game against UNLV. For comparison's sake, Mike Iupati suffered a sprained MCL Week 11 against the New Orleans Saints, and then missed four weeks with the injury. Joe Staley suffered what was reported as a sprained MCL against the St. Louis Rams, and did not miss any games. Dillon Farrell's sprained MCL would seem to fall somewhere in the middle.
LJ McCray, S, Catawba College
The 49ers signed McCray into what will likely be a developmental role. McCray was a safety and return man at Catawba. That return work could benefit his chances of a 2014 roster spot, but more than likely he's looking at the practice squad his first year. He could contribute as a kick returner, and he got work on various coverage units during the offseason workout program, so I won't say it's not happening. It's just unlikely for now.
The last two years appear to have been relatively healthy for McCray. It is not a simple process hunting down injury information for a Division II player, but I came across a local Salisbury, NC newspaper. McCray's most notable injury was a broken rib, suffered in the early part of the 2011 season. McCray suffered the injury during a kick return drill. The drill was supposed to be at a jogging pace, but a teammate hit him full speed. The injury occurred a few days after the team's season opener, and it cost him the rest of the season. He was able to get a red shirt season out of it, and he returned for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
The Catawba coach indicated that was a pretty rare injury. It should not be seen as a problem with size, as McCray is a good sized safety. He stands 5'11 and weighs 210 pounds. He'll have to deal with the physicality of the NFL, but his size should help him. For numbers, McCray ran a 4.52 40, and did 24 reps on the bench press.
Asante Cleveland, TE, Miami (FL)
I did not come across any injury information about Cleveland.