The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the 2017 season and have begun their work to prepare for 2018 free agency and the draft. We’ll be breaking down plenty of what that means, but in the meantime, we wanted to take a look back at the season that was for the 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo capture our imagination, but the 49ers rebuilding process was extensive last year. We are going to take a look at every notable addition and provide a forum for grading how that signing, trade, or draft pick worked out.
The 49ers had a pre-draft meeting with the Kansas State linebacker last spring before the Minnesota drafted him in the 7th round, number 232 over all. San Francisco then foiled the Vikings attempt to hide him on the practice squad, signing him after game one to add depth behind the injured Reuben Foster.
Lee only had 18 snaps on defense all year but was a regular part of San Francisco’s excellent coverage unit (274 snaps = 59% of ST plays). While he notched a modest four combined tackles, the rookie linebacker had two outstanding plays that showed his play-making potential.
The Indianapolis Colts tried a trick play on a punt return, with returner Quan Bray throwing across the field (technically, a lateral) to Krishawn Hogan. Lee sniffed it out without breaking stride and was close to intercepting the ball. As it was, he wheeled Hogan around and threw him down backwards, forcing a fumble.
Then, playing defense against Jacksonville in game 15, Lee picked up a T.J. Yeldon fumble after a short crossing reception and ran it back 18 yards for a touchdown. On a very questionable call, the referees ruled it was an incomplete pass. Nonetheless, it was a heads up play by Lee and well executed.
The fact that the coaches found some defensive snaps for Lee in the last two games, and that he made the most of them, bodes well for his future with this team.
How do you grade the Elijah Lee free agent signing?
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