The 49ers UDFA class was full of not only seniors but redshirt seniors who had plenty of experience. Indiana State’s Jonas Griffith fit he bill. Griffith finished his career with six All-American honors, which tied a school record. You have to stand out at the FCS level to be recognized by the NFL. Griffith led the Missouri Valley Football Conference for the second season in a row in 2019 in tackles with 106. He’s the fifth player ever to achieve the feat. Griffith finished 2019 with 28.5 tackles for loss, you read that correct, and had four sacks.
To get a better idea of how Griffith played against top competition, you can watch this game against Louisville. He’s all over the place. Griffith had 11 tackles within the first minute of the video; he had two plays where he beat multiple blocks, one for a tackle for loss. Griffith is intriguing, to say the least.
At his pro day, Griffith benched 225 pounds 27 times, jumped 36” in the vertical, jumped a 10’7” broad jump, ran a 4.62 40-yard dash, had a 4.34 20-yard short shuttle, and ran a 7.08 3-cone. When I watched him, I thought Griffith was a little tight when it came to changing directions, but those shuttle times are impressive. He’s an all-around athlete that you can run.
Age: 23 (turns 24 January 27)
Weight: 250 pounds
Griffith was guaranteed $30,000 when he signed with the 49ers. If he makes the roster, his three-year contract will total $2.2 million. If the 49ers release Griffith, they’ll save $574,666 against the cap and have $38,000 in dead cap. Eight thousand of that is Griffith’s prorated bonus.
Odds on making the roster
Griffith has a chance to make the practice squad if the NFL plans to expand the roster sizes to 16. He’ll need to show out on special teams during the preseason. The 49ers linebacking corps is set with Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, and Dre Greenlaw. After that, Joe Walker figures to be the team’s special team ace, and Azeez Al-Shaair is a promising young linebacker.
Griffith will need to outplay Al-Shaair and Walker, and Mark Nzeocha if he wants to make the roster. Going back to that Louisville game, Griffith had a nice interception. It’ll take standout plays as turnovers or impact hits in practice that catch the coaches’ eyes. Realistically, Griffith is “redshirted” this year, much like Tim Harris last year, and he has a better chance of making the roster next year if the Niners decided to part ways with Alexander due to his high salary cap hit.