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Getting to know the 49ers UDFA class: Who has the best chance to make the team?

What were draft analysts saying about the undrafted free agents the 49ers have signed?

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Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have yet to announce their official UDFA class, but we have a general idea of the players they are signing. With that in mind, let’s get familiar with the players that have a chance to make the 49ers roster next year.

QB Brock Rutter, North Central (Ill.) College

I’m rooting for Brock based on the name alone. Rutter started four years and won the Gagliardi Trophy, which goes to the top Division III football player. Rutter set records for career passing yards and threw for over 4,500 yards last season and 56 touchdowns. Rutter ranked second nationally in passing yards, touchdowns and efficiency in 2019. Good luck finding scouting reports for a D3 player. Rutter’s Pro Day wasn’t all that impressive for someone 6’1” and 205 pounds. His championship performance was:

Rutter throws a nice deep ball. At 3:28 in that video above, you can see his athleticism. Velocity isn’t an issue, either. Watching Rutter against the 49ers’ first-team defense in practice will be a significant jump in competition, but you look for dominance at the lower levels of competition, and that’s exactly what Rutter did.

RB Salvon Ahmed, Washington

Ahmed ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, but his 1.56 10-yard split was in the 82nd percentile. Here is PFF’s draft guide on Ahmed:

Ahmed is on the smaller side for the position and below-average athletically. Those two don’t quite mesh in the NFL. His indecisive running style will do him no favors, either. I get why Ahmed declared early, as the clock is ticking for every running back in the NFL, but he runs the risk of not being drafted altogether. He does not project well at all running between the tackles in the NFL, as he needed gaping holes to make things happen. You could work with that if he had elite speed or elusiveness, but neither of those was present in his career at Washington. I’m not sure if there’s an area where he separates himself from the many others at the position.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement. Ahmed had a breakaway percentage of 30%, forced 30 missed tackles on 204 touches, and 648 of his 1,104 yards came after contact. Let’s see if the next running back is any better, as PFF projected Ahmed to go undrafted.

RB JaMycal Hasty, Baylor

Hasty was 187th on PFF’s big bard and the tenth rated runner. Hasty had a breakaway percentage of 50%, forced 22 missed tackles on 134 touches, and 419 of his 814 yards came after contact. We’re off to a good start. As for the combine, Hasty ran a 4.55, which is plenty fast for a running back in the NFL. He’s 5’8”, 205, and had the best shuttle time at 4.03 seconds. Baylor generally pumps out top athletes, and Hasty is no different. His 39” vertical jump put him in the 92nd percentile, and a 1.53 10-yard split was put him in the 93rd percentile as well. Like Ahmed, the 49ers are looking for top-end initial burst. Here is what PFF had to say about Hasty:

Hasty has prototypical scatback traits. He relies on making defenders miss completely, though, which won’t happen nearly as often in the NFL. Still, he’s a tough ask to bring down one-on-one in the open field. Hasty has as many ankles saved in his closet as any running back in the nation over the past few years. His jump cuts are special and embarrassing for opposing defenders. There’s not much to him, however, and those jump cuts rarely did much on traditional runs. He’s a scat back through and through without exceptional speed or power to add to the mix. That has value in the NFL, but there are a lot of players around the league who can barely see playing time with that skillset.

Watching Denzel Mims made it tough to ignore Hasty. Let’s just say Kory Sheets is in trouble. Hasty is going to light it up during the preseason and become a fan favorite.

FB Josh Hokit, Fresno St.

Hokit scored ten touchdowns in his senior year and modeled his game after Kyle Juszczyk. Hokit also has a wrestling background, as he qualified fr the NCAA championships last spring and was an All-American.

TE Chase Harrell, Arkansas

Harrell went to Kansas for three years before transferring to Arkansas. He’s 6’4”, 249 pounds. As a sophomore with the Jayhawks, Harrell had 25 receptions for 221 yards and three touchdowns, but never produced in the SEC. At his Pro Day, Harrell did a few defensive line drills, which is intriguing. He played tight end as a senior, though. Harrell’s Pro Day was eye-opening. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash, a 10’7” broad jump, a 36” vertical, a 4.21 short shuttle, and a 6.76 three-cone drill. All of those numbers are in the 90th percentiles for tight ends. You bet on athletes late in the draft.

WR Chris Finke, Notre Dame

Finke received $95,000 guaranteed. Finke finished his senior year with 41 receptions for 456 yards and four touchdowns. He also was the team’s punt returner the past three seasons. You won’t find a better nickname than Finke’s “the slippery fox.” Finke ran a 4.57 which won’t catch your eye, but his 40” vertical will. Also, only one player had a faster 10-yard split at the combine than Finke: Henry Ruggs. He’ll get the usual “quicker than fast” and “tough as nails” superlatives, but Finke is a much better athlete than he’ll get credit for. Possible Richie James replacement in the return game?

DL Darrion Daniel, Nebraska

Daniel received $105,000 guaranteed — $80,000 of base salary guaranteed, plus $25,000 signing bonus— which signals San Francisco likes him. This is probably your Sheldon Day replacement. If so, good on the 49ers for waiting until after the draft. There’s no sense in wasting premium picks on defensive lineman that can’t rush the passer. Here is Sports Info Solutions’ on Daniels:

Daniels is a massive and quick space-eater in the run game, but he lacks the history of production and projectable skillset to make an impact in passing situations. Daniels will be best utilized as a two-down nose tackle at the next level. Because of the lack of production as a pass rusher, he should not be on the field for third-down passing situations but can plug the middle in short-yardage run situations.

PFF’s pros on Daniels are “doesn’t relinquish an inch on the line of scrimmage. Already can hold double teams. Great run defense grade over multiple years across multiple schemes. Ideal size and length for nose tackle position.” Perfect.

LB Jonas Griffith, Indiana St.

NFL Draft Diamonds said Griffith has a chance to be the next Darius Lenoard, which is quite the compliment. At his Pro Day, Griffith did 27 reps on the bench, jumped 36” in the vertical, had a 10’7” broad jump, ran a 4.64 40-yard dash with a 4.3 short shuttle and a 7.08 three-cone. This is at 6’3”, 247 pounds. Here is what SIS had to say about him:

Griffith projects as a productive backup middle linebacker. Even though his overall coverage skills need to improve, he can be on the field for situations on all three downs as he can stop the run as well as be a productive blitzer. He also projects to make an impact on punt and kickoff coverage due to his above-average play speed, toughness, and tackling ability.

There has been an injection of athleticism at linebacker over the past year at linebacker for the 49ers. Griffith sounds like a Mark Nzeocha replacement. The Niners can save $1.5 million by releasing Nzeocha.

DB DeMarkus Acy, Missouri

Acy ran a 4.45 at his Pro Day. In 2018, Acy was an All-SEC performer. Here is SIS on ACY:

Acy projects as a No. 4 CB who fits best in press-man or Cover 2 scheme. On third down, he fits best inside where he can be physical with speedier receivers or man up against taller targets. He has the play speed, physicality, and athleticism that will translate well to being a special teams player at the next level.

DB Jared Mayden, Alabama

Mayden finished his senior season with 59 tackles, three pass breakups, and four interceptions. Recent history of Crimson Tide safeties says Mayden has a chance. Mayden was another Senior Bowl invite. Mayden has versatility, as he played over 240 snaps at free safety, in the box, and at slot cornerback for Alabama in 2019. Here is PFF’s blurb on him:

Mayden is the rare starter in the Alabama secondary who is not a top prospect. In his only year as a starter for the Tide, he put up an impressive four interceptions, but that number isn’t quite indicative of his playmaking ability. There were a bunch of ugly reads on his tape and rough reps in man coverage. He’s at his best in underneath zone coverage, which is arguably the least valuable thing a safety does. His best route to success in the NFL is either as a nickel or dime linebacker who can cover around the line of scrimmage.

Mayden ran a 4.45 40-yard dash at Alabama’s junior day and was hoping to run a 4.36 before his Pro Day was canceled. In that article, Mayden was training with former Olympic gold medalist Michael Johnson, and also insisted he was the fourth-fasted member of the Crimson Tide. Mayden is 6’0”, 205 pounds.

Ronnell Perkins, Missouri

Perkins was a hybrid defender for the Tigers in 2019. In nine games, he had 17 tackles, one for loss, two interceptions and four passes defended. There isn’t a ton of info out there on Perkins.

The theme from this year’s draft class, from the first-round picks to the UDFA’s above, is consistent: the 49ers want players that are experienced. Each draft picks attended or was invited to the Senior Bowl, while the aforementioned players were seniors with plenty of playing experience. The 49ers are in win-now mode, and this draft proved it.