Each year, we run a series of post called "90-in-90" here at Niners Nation. The idea is that we'll take a look at every single player on the roster, from the very bottom to the top and break them down a few different ways. This is to help give everyone a basic understanding of a roster. Of course, this roster will change, and some days we'll have more than one so it's not strictly one per day but you get the idea.
The San Francisco 49ers are making quite a few changes to their secondary, with their cornerback depth seeing an entirely new group of full-time starters. Rashard Robinson will start on one side, while draft pick Ahkello Witherspoon and veterans Dontae Johnson and Keith Reaser are competing for the other starting role. Free agent addition K’Waun Williams is competing with Will Redmond for a nickel role.
Witherspoon and Williams were the big additions to the cornerback depth chart, but they weren’t the only ones. The 49ers also signed undrafted free agent Zach Franklin. The Washburn product stands 5’11, 190 pounds and ran a sub-4.5 40 at a regional Combine.
Having attended a Division II school, Franklin has heard plenty about how he will never make it to the next level. There’s a great feature about him in the Wichita Eagle, which talks about his determination. He’s played throughout his career with a chip on his shoulder, and uses these slights to drive him.
“There have always been people who have doubted what I could do, but I just keep proving them wrong,” Franklin said. “Only you know what you can do. Only you know the amount of time you’ve put in and what you’re capable of. It’s all just football in the end, no matter where you come from. If you work, then it will show.”
It sounds like work ethic will not be an issue with Franklin. That’s not enough to secure a roster spot, but you can’t teach a strong work ethic.
Appeared in 45 games (34 starts) and recorded 109 tackles, 32 PDs, 6.0 TFLs, 2 FRs and 1 FF during his four-year career at Washburn. Also totaled 34 KORs for 750 yds. As a redshirt senior in 2016, started all 12 games and registered 38 tackles, 12 PDs, 4.5 TFLs, 1 FF and 1 FR to earn Third-Team All-Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association honors. In 2015, started all 11 games and earned Second-Team All-MIAA honors after totaling 34 tackles, 14 PDs, 1.0 TFL and 1 FR. As a sophomore, started all 11 games and recorded 28 tackles, 4 PDs and 0.5 TFLs. Saw action in all 11 games as a freshman in 2013 and registered 9 tackles and 2 PDs. Redshirted in 2012. Attended Wichita Northwest (Wichita, KS) HS, where he registered 14 tackles and 3 recepts. for 45 yds. as a senior. Born 2/14/94 in Wichita, KS.
Weight: 190 lbs
Franklin received no guaranteed money, according to Jason Hurley. If he makes the 49ers roster, he will earn the league minimum of $465,000.
What to expect in 2017
As that feature above mentioned, the ceiling for a lot of UDFAs is the practice squad. Franklin is motivated, but if he is going to make the roster, it will most likely be with a strong showing on special teams. My guess is if he is part of the organization after training camp and the preseason, it will be as part of the practice squad.
Odds of making the roster
There are very few long-shots for the 49ers roster. Franklin has an uphill climb, but there is enough turnover among the cornerbacks that he could at least make things interesting. I’d say he is on the wrong side of the weak bubble for now, but the first couple weeks of training camp, when players can get a little more physical, will tell us a little more.