The first thing you’ll notice about San Francisco 49ers UDFA Darrion Daniels is that he’s a large human being. He’s 6’3”, 311-pounds, but, ironically enough, Daniels is at his best when he’s on the move and showed at Nebraska he has the range to make plays down the line of scrimmage.
Daniels played at Oklahoma State and was a graduate transfer, so he played his final season at Nebraska. There, Daniel made honorable mention All-Big Ten and was voted a team captain, while making the Nebraska Scholar-Athlete Honor Roll both in the spring and fall of 2019. Daniels received a degree in marketing and is pursuing his master’s degree in applied science. Daniels finished his senior season with 27 tackles, 1.5 for loss, and a half-sack. On 430 snaps with the Huskers, Daniels only managed eight pressures and ten 11 run stops. Daniels is a one or two down player, so he has to be a dominant run defender if he’s going to make the 49ers. Daniels played five seasons in college football and over 100 snaps in each, so he certainly has the experience.
Age: 22 (turns 23 December 4)
Weight: 311 pounds
If Daniels makes the roster in 2020, his cap charge would be $618,333. Daniels’s three-year contract would total $2.2 million through the 2022 season. Daniels was guaranteed $105,000 when he signed as an undrafted free agent. So if he’s released, the Niners would save $513,333.
Odds of making the roster
Daniels received the most of any UDFA in terms of guaranteed money at $105,000. After D.J. Jones, who would you feel comfortable playing snaps at one-technique? The options aren’t great, which is why I believe Daniels makes the roster. Daniels is precisely what the 49ers are looking for inside:
just watched Gophers/Huskers and Darrion Daniel is making the roster. Sheldon Day replacement. pic.twitter.com/gTeqpcWHZT— Kyle Posey (@KP_Show) June 16, 2020
He’s strong enough to hold at the point of attack, but he’s rangy enough to make plays down the line of scrimmage. That stood out the most to me. Daniels is just sudden enough where he can out-quick a center or guard with an arm over, as you can see in the last clip.
Daniels went undrafted for a reason, however. He doesn’t offer much against the pass. In a league that is in sub-packages over 70% of the time, there isn’t much value in a run-stopping defensive tackle. His PFF grade on third down was 58.6, and his pass-rush win rate was below average at 8%. Daniels tested well below-average at the combine, except for his broad jump. I saw Daniels have trouble staying square at times. When he turned his shoulders, lineman moved Daniels relatively easy. That will be a coaching point for Kris Kocurek. Adding all of this together and there is a reason no team rolled the dice on Daniels.
For what the 49ers need and ask, Daniels is a good fit. A one-technique that can make plays slanting, stunting, while holding his ground on double teams. Daniels being able to make plays outside of the box, is an added luxury.