With preseason NFL football officially behind us and, thus, the final round of roster cutdown, it’s time to take a look around the league at the different ways teams have built their 53-man roster.
In one of his breakdowns, Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap ranked teams by the proportion of their roster and practice squad that features homegrown talent. The San Francisco 49ers were tied for 10th on the list, with 62.7% of their roster coming straight from college to their organization.
The Niners’ ranking is a positive endorsement of the team’s scouting and player development staff under head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. The Niners have found excellent value late in the draft and via undrafted free agency. Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr., Dan Brunskill, Jauan Jennings, D.J. Jones, Azeez Al-Shaair, and Emmanuel Moseley were all notable contributors for the Niners last season who were drafted in the sixth round or later.
This preseason has already set the stage for fifth-round pick Samuel Womack and undrafted free agent Jordan Mason to make significant contributions immediately.
San Francisco’s late-round success has helped them recover from several high-round picks that quickly fizzled out (Trey Sermon, the latest example). The 49ers would obviously like to find a bit more consistency at the top of the draft, but it’s hard to knock a group that has found elite talents like Nick Bosa, Deebo Samuel, Fred Warner, and George Kittle.
Finding quality talent through the draft remains the best way for NFL teams to build sustainable contenders. Given the strict limitations of the salary cap, it’s vital for teams to add talented players on team-friendly contracts through the draft. If the Niners continue filling out their roster with one of the highest rates of homegrown players in the league, it should be a good sign of things to come.