No Huddle: The 49ers’ Biggest Challengers In The NFC →
placeholder image

Photo courtesy of the San Francisco 49ers

Why signing undrafted free agents has become more challenging for the 49ers

May 5, 2023 at 2:30 PM--

Videos are auto-populated by an affiliate. This site has no control over the videos that appear above.
Late in the draft, the San Francisco 49ers were busy making calls. Not to potential draft picks but to players who looked like they would become undrafted free agents.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch addressed the media after the draft. During the conversation, the two were clearly eager to get back to work, as the rest of the 49ers staff worked tirelessly to fill out the roster with players who did not hear their names called during the draft's seven rounds.

San Francisco signed 12 undrafted free agents, including fullback Jack Colletto of Oregon State, running back Khalan Laborn of Marshall, and later, wide receiver Isaiah Winstead of East Carolina. More on the latter in a minute.

Lynch commented on the first two players during Thursday's radio interview on KNBR.

"Colletto is an interesting cat in that he played a little quarterback, a little linebacker, a little fullback, has done a lot of things," Lynch shared on the Murph & Mac show. "And we grew to really have an appreciation for Colletto [and] Laborn, the running back out of Marshall. He's a really intriguing prospect.

"Sometimes you have these stories like where you get jilted, and we thought we had another running back. Fortunately, Bobby Turner does [it] old school. He doesn't like Zoom. He does phone calls, and he does like 800 of them with each potential. And Laborn is a guy who Bobby Turner really developed a great relationship with. And so he hung in there with us and happy to have him a part of us."

Lynch admits that convincing undrafted free agents to sign with the 49ers has become more challenging over the years. The team has come a long way since the talent-depleted roster that Lynch and Shanahan inherited in 2017. Back then, undrafted free agents might have looked at the 49ers, thinking it might be easier to make that roster than other destinations.

Obviously, that is no longer the case. San Francisco owns one of the most talented rosters in the NFL and has appeared in three of the last four NFC Championship Games.

"Our ownership allows us to be aggressive in terms of going and getting these guys," Lynch shared. "I will tell you, it's harder each and every year. It's kind of like a sliding scale. The fact that we have a really good roster and one that a lot of players think will compete this year for a championship is a good thing in that they all love the Niners, love being a part of it.

"They also know there's probably not a whole lot of opportunity to go make this roster. And so you do have to sell them on why this is a good opportunity. Here's what we see. And so that's the coolest thing to me, to watch these coaches and scouts work together and then put their negotiating skills to work.

"It's always a wild ride. Kyle and I, in fact, kind of leave and go down to handle the press, and we come back never knowing what we're going to get. But our guys always do a great job."

Despite his staff having to do more convincing than in previous years, Lynch is happy with this year's haul.

"All these guys are really interesting, right down to the last guy, the internet sensation, Winstead, that everyone's talking about," Lynch said. "But he's a guy we just signed. He's the last guy. So it's always great to see those guys, to have them come out—we'll be out there next weekend for our rookie minicamp—and fun to see them be a part of us."

After going undrafted and receiving no offers for a roster spot, Winstead tweeted out the following practice film, which went viral.

The 49ers signed him on Wednesday. Of course, many believed the reaction to the video prompted the team into action. That wasn't the case.

"Apparently, he attacked it hard on social media, so I think people thought that maybe we were swayed by that," Lynch explained. "Our scouts had just been on him for some time. He had committed to some other teams for rookie minicamps, and then we said, 'Okay, we like them enough [to give him] a rookie minicamp invite.' How do you trump that? Well, you say, 'Hey, we'll go ahead and sign you to our 90.' So we did.

"I know there was a lot on his social media, but we had actually been on him for some time and happy to have him [be] a part of us."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.

Related News


Facebook Comments

More San Francisco 49ers News

placeholder image

DT Javon Hargrave signing with 49ers paying off immediately for both sides

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 23

The San Francisco 49ers have started off the season hot, improving to 3-0 fresh off a Thursday Night victory over the New York Giants this week in their home opener. It's been a two-sided effort for the 49ers, who have scored 30 points in each of the team's three games, while limiting opponents to 42 points overall. A big portion of their defensive success? The talent on their defensive line, and this season, it has been headlined by star defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, who leads the team with 10 quarterback hurries. Coming into the season, it was known that Hargrave was a premier pass-rushing talent for the 49ers, but he's been on a tear to start the season, arguably serving as the team's best player on that end, which is exactly what San Francisco

placeholder image

Kyle Shanahan even more impressed with Brock Purdy after 49ers-Giants film review

By David Bonilla
Sep 22

After the San Francisco 49ers' 30-12 victory over the New York Giants on Thursday night, head coach Kyle Shanahan expressed how happy he was with his second-year quarterback, Brock Purdy, despite some miscues. "It definitely wasn't his best game, but I think Brock played well," Shanahan said. "I mean, he definitely wasn't perfect. Missed a couple of throws, but he also made a couple of plays that I didn't think were there. So I was definitely happy with him." The next day, after reviewing what his team did against their Week 3 opponent, the coach was even more impressed with his quarterback. "After watching the film, I was even more impressed than I saw last night after the game," Shanahan said Friday afternoon via a conference call. "We missed a

placeholder image

Nick Bosa: 49ers D-line will have more opportunities against Daniel Jones

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Sep 19

The San Francisco 49ers cruised to a 30-23 win on Sunday, overcoming a tight first half to generate a double-digit lead until the last play of the game, improving to 2-0 on the season. Now, the 49ers are getting ready to host their season opener, and it comes in primetime, as San Francisco will play the New York Giants on Thursday Night Football at Levi's Stadium this week. The Giants have started their season with two very different games, losing 40-0 to the Dallas Cowboys in the opener before making a comeback in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals for a 31-28 win. However, they may be without star running back Saquon Barkley, who suffered an ankle sprain in Week 2, potentially putting an even bigger onus on quarterback Daniel Jones against the

placeholder image

Why 49ers Nick Bosa appears "sluggish" through two games

By Chris Beno
Sep 19

After missing this year's OTA's and Training Camp in a hold out effort for a new contract, San Francisco 49ers All-Pro Defensive End Nick Bosa finally became the highest paid defensive player in NFL history, just days before the team's week one matchup against the Pittsburg Steelers. Bosa signed a five-year $170 million extension with the team. It's easy to say Bosa's slow start in that week one matchup was due to his holdout and lack of football activity with the team this offseason. However, to say that sluggishness carried over into their week two matchup against their division rival Los Angeles Rams isn't entirely true. Far too often players (especially defensive players) are critiqued on stats alone. While stats help players earn end of the year accolades, they don't


Trending News

Share 49ersWebzone