49ers: Offensive Undrafted Free Agent Assessment and Grade Report

Recently the San Francisco 49ers came to multiyear agreements with the following offensive players per Matt Maiocco.

 

Niners Live highlights a few offensive players at a glance that we feel might have a chance to either make the 53 man roster or, more than likely, the 10 man practice squad….

49ers Signs TE Cole Hikutini, Louisville

At the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers and general manager John Lynch have signed Cole Hikutini, 6’4, 247 lbs. TE, Louisville.

A second team All-Conference honoree who led the Cardinal in receptions and receptions for first downs last season. A local kid who played his Jr. College ball at Sac City before transferring to San Francisco City College to improve his recruiting profile since he only played only one year of high school football.

Important to Note:

During his college career, Hikutini became the first down machine for Louisville, consistently finding an opening to allow Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson to extend drives by putting the ball in his hands. His 50 receptions and eight touchdowns led the team this past season, while his 688 yards were second on the team.

How He Fits:

A true athlete who can move all over the formation to find a mismatch and gain a quality first down. But first, he needs to improve his blocking skills, and in order to do that to get on the 53 man roster he’ll have to show value in the kicking game by covering kicks and blocking on returns. Nothing better than live blocking at full speed to help one get use to attacking with their hands.

Closing Grade: (C+)

As bad as this pick deserves a higher grade, his inability to be a force in the running game can have him destined for the practice squad if he doesn’t prove to be a force on special teams. There’s no denying the hands and what he can bring to the passing game, but unfortunately in this league and being undrafted, no one cares how good you can do one thing without being dominate in the other.

49ers Signs RB Matt Breida, Georgia Southern

Matt Breida, 5’11, 181 lbs., RB, Georgia Southern was a two-time All-Conference selection out of the Sun Belt Conference. Played the 2016 season while still recovering from a leg injury which hurt production after posting a 1600 yards season in 2015.

Important to Note:

During his college career, Breida came off the 2014 season as a Doak Walker Semi- Finalist, given to the nation’s top running back. While coming off an injury and off season surgery for a leg injury, played in all 12 games for the Eagles starting 11. His production was down from his 2014 and 2015 seasons leading him to the ranks of the undrafted.

How He Fits:

Seemingly destined for the practice squad while he fully recovers from the leg injury that appeared to slow him last season, and bulk up to close to the Shanahan desired 210-pound weight for a tailback. It’s going to take an outstanding offseason and training camp for him to break camp on the 53 man roster with seven running backs on the roster, and three being either a seasoned starter, a player traded for, or a player drafted.

Closing Grade: (C-)

At this point there is no way he can play himself onto the roster. Unless this is a stash and develop signing, the team has moved into running back overkill. Building competition is one thing, but eight running backs on the 90 man roster? Adding in fullback Kyle Juszczyk and the other 10 percent of the roster makes 100 percent of the 53 man team.

49ers Signs OT Darrell Williams Jr., Western Kentucky

Darrell Williams Jr., 6’6, 315 lbs., OT, Western Kentucky was an All-Conference right tackle while playing for the Hilltoppers. Started 41 games while at Western Kentucky.

Important to Note:

During his college career, Williams found himself as the other bookend to Forrest Lamp. But holding his own, Williams (like Lamp) took control of his position on his way to multiple conference honors through his career.

How He Fits:

Right Tackle and right guard are question marks along the 49ers line, with incumbent Trent Brown looking to improve his marginal blocking last season to try and take control of the job once again this year. But Head Coach Kyle Shanahan and General Manager John Lynch are not going to make it easy. They are bringing in multiple bodies to compete for a job on the right side. Trent Brown, you have been put on notice. If Williams does not win the position, look for him to make a strong push for the practice squad.

Closing Grade: (B+)

In college, Williams showed the ability to take over the right tackle job and hold on to it. Trent Brown better be ready, and hope that the lessons he learned last season provide him with enough of an edge to hold off Williams or one of the other challengers, although Williams is the most ready to come in and compete of all the undrafted tackles coming to camp.

49ers Signs WR KD Cannon, Baylor

K D Cannon., 5’11, 182 lbs., WR, Baylor was beginning his first season in Waco. Cannon displayed talents that made him All-Conference in all his seasons there. First as a Freshman All-American and culminating in First Team All-Conference selection his final season at Baylor.

Important to Note:

During his college career Cannon was a threat all over the field, posting 1,000-yard seasons every year in Waco. Contouring his body to make the difficult catches, tracking passes all over the yard, and using his body to box out defenders while they are pursuing the route.

How He Fits:

Strength and conditioning coach Micheal Clay is going to earn his paycheck this season. The consistent theme with all the undrafted free agents this year is the same, Football IQ, talent and technique but lacking strength and power. A redshirt year on the practice squad and consistent days in the weight room should have Cannon ready to compete in the 2018 season. On a team with 12 pass catchers who either have NFL experience or draft status, not having the weight to get off the line against both press coverage (the Baylor offense kept him from seeing press coverage like he will in the NFL) and when covering punts, is going to ticket Cannon for the Practice Squad this season.

Closing Grade: (B-)

The only reason this pick does not get a higher grade is about the player, not the system, and whether he will do the one thing we need him to, commit.

49ers Signs OT Erik Magnuson, Michigan

Erik Magnuson, 6’ 6, 305 lbs., OT, Michigan was a three-year starter with starting experience at both guard and tackle positions. Third Team All-Conference as a junior and First Team All-Conference as a senior.

Important to Note:

During his college career, Magnuson displayed the athleticism to be a solid right guard in a zone blocking scheme. He has balance and leverage in pass protection, but lacks the strength to be a dominant run blocker.

How He Fits:

A tweener lacking the strength to kick inside to guard or center but lacking the length needed to compete on the outside tackle position. Practice squad destined to build the strength needed for the shift inside, as strength can be added, but length cannot. Depending on how hard he hits the weight room, he may be able to optimistically be a late season call-up as an interior lineman backup. Should push for a starting job in 2018.

Closing Grade: (B)

Fits the scheme and is the type of player the practice squad was created for, as the talent is there to compete for a starting job, but a lack of strength keeps him from being ready to compete in this training camp. If he doesn’t put in the work during his rookie season, he will be a disappointment not to be in the competition during training camp next season.

49ers Signs C Bret Treadway, Lamar

Bret Treadway, 6’3, 249 lbs., C, Lamar a four-year starter who was also a three-year all-conference right guard at Lamar, who even while being limited to eight games was an all-conference honorable mention his senior year.

Important to Note:

During his college career, Treadway demonstrated the Football IQ, athleticism, and tenacity to dominate in the zone blocking scheme deployed by Coach Shanahan. An inability to gain weight to establish an NFL frame pushed Treadway out of the NFL Draft.

How He Fits:

49ers Strength Coach Micheal Clay will become Treadway’s best friend in the building. Needing to put on about 40-50 pounds to be seriously considered for regular season action, Treadway will be put on the practice squad for the season and bulked up. The faster he puts on weight the faster he will see the field, as if he was already 295 pounds he would have been at least second round pick in any draft.

Closing Grade: (B+)

An undersized second round pick. Knows the system, has the heart and mind to become a legit NFL Starter at right guard, a position that has not been filled since the 2014 season with Alex Boone, another undrafted free agent anchored the position for the top-ranked offensive line unit in the league.

I’ll just close with this:

The 49ers offensive undrafted free agent group is an intriguing one indeed. This group should create a wealth of competition in camp and pre-season while challenging to make the 53 man roster. And if nothing else, one heck of a strong practice squad. Looking forward to how this situation unfolds in the near future…

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As always, keep your eyes wide open, 49er fans. Niners Live will be watching with you. #eyeswideopen and often imitated but never duplicated… Go Niners.

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All records, statistics, and accolades are courtesy of Pro-Football-Reference.com, Pro Football Focus49ers.com, ESPN.com, NFL.com unless otherwise indicated. Author, Edward Erving new Staff Writer at Niners Live, Co-Author, Editor Niners Live.