COVID-19 has affected UDFA’s in the football world more than anyone. Early in the offseason is an opportunity for young players to make a name for themselves in rookie minicamp, minicamp, and OTAs. Talent rises to the top, and we’ve seen that across the NFL during the offseason for years and years.
Former Notre Dame receiver Chris Finke would have had a chance to put his name on the San Francisco 49ers radar had the team been able to participate together during these past couple months. Why? The best athletes stand out when there are no pads on. Finke can flat out fly. To give you an example of how sudden he is, Finke’s 10-yard split was 1.49. Compare that to Henry Ruggs, who ran a 1.46. If you can crack the 1.4’s, you are moving.
Finke arrived at Norte Dame as a freshman as a preferred walk-on. Finke was given a full scholarship right before the 2016 season. Finke’s highlight as a junior came when he “mossed” a defensive back against Michigan. Finke caught 49 and 41 passes in his final two seasons, respectively.
The former walk-on turned captain ran a 4.57 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine and jumped 40” in the vertical. Where Finke is expected to make an impact is on Special Teams.
Age: 24 (birthday is on May, 2)
Weight: 184 pounds
If Finke makes the roster, his base salary will be $610,000, and his total contract will amount to $2.2 million over three years. If Finke is released, the 49ers will save $530,000.
Odds on making the roster
Finke has an uphill battle to make the 49ers. Wideouts that are locks: Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jalen Hurd, Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor. Those five, if healthy, are going to make the team. That leaves room for one, maybe two others. If the NFL decides to have two preseason games, that limits the exposure for a player like Finke trying to make it as a punt or kick returner. Finke scored a touchdown on a jet sweep where he outran defenders. Fewer games mean fewer touches. Undrafted free agents may have a tougher time making rosters this season.
The 49ers gave Finke the second-most amount of guaranteed money, though. San Francisco gave Finke $95,000. I’m curious if the coaching staff values Finke’s return skills over what’s on the roster. Richie James was good in 2019, but that shouldn’t prevent you from wanting to improve. That, plus the future looks bleak at wide receiver as it stands today. After Deebo Samuel, there isn’t a receiver under contract after 2021, so San Francisco could look to groom Finke. He’s a prime candidate for the practice squad this season.