We saw an entirely random transaction on Friday, with word that former running back Glen Coffee had applied for reinstatement to the NFL and subsequently been waived by the San Francisco 49ers. I wasn’t sure if that was specifically a paperwork thing or what, but Ian Rapoport confirmed with Coffee’s agent that he is indeed attempting a comeback.
When Coffee was reinstated, the 49ers either had to add him back to their 90-man roster or give him his outright release. I believe he will have to clear waivers, but it seems unlikely anybody claims a running back who has not played since 2010 training camp and turns 30 in nine days.
Coffee entered the NFL back in 2009 after leading Alabama in rushing with 1,383 yards. He was ahead of Mark Ingram on the depth chart that year, and while some scouting reports indicated surprise he declared early, I wonder if he thought Ingram might be nipping on his heels on the depth chart?
Walter Football ranked Coffee the No. 15 running back that year. Their top five running backs that year were Beanie Wells, Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown, LeSean McCoy, and Rashad Jennings. The only notable running back they ranked after Coffee was Arian Foster (No. 17).
You can still read his NFL.com scouting report. They liked his burst to the hole, vision for the cutback, and effort as a blocker. On the other hand, they thought he had thin hips and while well built, lacked bulk in his core and lower body. They thought he ran a bit upright, and went down on contact a bit too often.
Scouting reports missed out on the real issue, and that was that his heart was simply not in football. seemingly was not quite as psyched about playing football as others might have thought. He left the 49ers after one year, saying that he thought God had a bigger plan for him. Three years after retiring he enlisted in the Army and was at Army Ranger School as recently as late 2015.
Older first time football players (or close enough given that he only had one year under his belt) are not new to the NFL, but it is going to be interesting to see if he gets any sniffs. Running backs are grinded out of the league fairly quickly, but given his lack of playing since 2010, wear and tear wouldn’t seem to be a particular problem. And given that he was in Ranger school, he would likely be in pretty great physical condition. It is of course worth noting that we don’t know what his last two years has entailed given the lack of reporting, but I’m sure his agent will issue more information soon.
The 2017 NFL draft is coming up this week, and then teams will get into OTAs and minicamps. If he is in football shape at this point, I would think he might put on a Pro Day of sorts to show teams what he can do. That could get him signed for OTAs, or he might just sign somewhere closer to training camp to be a camp body looking for a chance. He was a talented running back coming out of college, but it’s been nearly seven years since he took part in an NFL practice. I’m fascinated to see what comes of this.