In 2010, the San Francisco 49ers signed undrafted free agent Alex Boone to the practice squad. Boone went undrafted in large part because he had a significant drinking problem that resulted in weight issues and run-ins with the law. While Mike Singletary struggled with many aspects of coaching, getting Alex Boone to get his crap together was one thing for which Singletary deserves credit.
Boone climbed from the practice squad in 2010, to the role of swing tackle in 2011. As we were trying to figure out how the team would fill the right guard role, Boone quietly took over the job during the following offseason, and emerged as a potential All Pro at the position in 2012. It has been a strong and stunning rise for Boone, and just as important, it is a sign of what a undrafted free agent and practice squad player can do with the right motivation and work ethic. It helped that Boone was already a talented player, but he still put in the work necessary, and was rewarded accordingly.
The 49ers have not made their practice squad signings official, but for now, it appears for now the team has seven players signing to the squad. This group includes:
OT Carter Bykowski
RB Jewel Hampton
WR Chuck Jacobs
CB Darryl Morris
OT Patrick Omameh
DT Mike Purcell
DB Michael Thomas
From this group, is there one particular player, or maybe several, you think will make that kind of leap? They don't necessarily have to be looking a potential All Pro career, but do any of these guys jump out as guys that will be front and center in the next year or two?
Darryl Morris is a guy the 49ers really seemed to want to slip through waivers. He got some playing time early in the preseason, but the last couple weeks he got no defensive snaps. The 49ers obviously like something about him, so we'll see what that means heading into next year's offseason workout program. The 49ers could be in serious need of cornerback help, so if he sticks around he'll get some opportunities next offseason.
Michael Thomas has been working primarily as a slot corner. He was behind Carlos Rogers and Perrish Cox during the preseason. If the 49ers part ways with Carlos Rogers, there will be a significant opportunity for Thomas. Cox will be a restricted free agent, so the 49ers should be able to retain him. Those two could be competing for that slot role next year.
Jewel Hampton looked sharp at times this preseason as he finally made his way onto the field. The 49ers are incredibly deep at running back, particularly with Marcus Lattimore likely spending the whole season on the NFI list. Hampton is in a tough position, although there is always a chance for some turnover.
Chuck Jacobs had a strong preseason, looking sharp connecting with QB B.J. Daniels. The 49ers have a lot of options at wide receiver, but few truly long-term options, so there will be some opportunities down the road.
Patrick Omameh and Mike Purcell both caught me a little off guard, but the 49ers can always use depth on both sides of the line. Carter Bykowski factors in on the offensive line as well.
Does anybody in this group jump out at you?