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Undrafted free agents

May 22, 2002 at 12:00 AM

After such a successful off season in which the 49ers were able to re-sign many of their own free agents and bring in other pro bowl type players in Ron Stone and Tony Parrish, the feeling was that they only needed to add depth with the draft and the signings of un-drafted free agents. Free agents signed last season at this time, still with the team include Al Blades, Ben Steele and Jamie Rheem.
The positions the 49ers are looking to fill with un-drafted free agents are at wide receiver, defensive line, and offensive line and kick returner.

Charon Arnold – WR – University of California
A 5’11” 175lb. athletic receiver, who is extremely quick from Torrance California.
He has a good hands and a competitive nature.
He needs to continue to develop his consistency.
In 2001 he had a team high 52 catches for 606 yards and 3 touchdowns
In 2000 he was the leading receiver through 4 games with 12 catches for 111 yards before missing the rest of the season with a stress fracture.

Ken Simonton – RB – Oregon State – 5’8 193lbs.
Comes from an athletic family from Pittsburgh. His father played baseball for the Boston Red Sox and his brother plays for the San Francisco Giants.
He has everything you look for in a running back, speed, durability, elusiveness, soft hands, toughness and a great competitive desire.
Oregon State’s all-time leading rusher holds 11 career records and 11 season records.
In 2001 he had 239 carries for 971 yards and 8 touchdowns
In 2000 he had 284 carries for 1,559 yards and 19 touchdowns and finished 9th in the Heisman voting.
Also served as a kick and punt returner
Head Coach Dennis Erickson
“He’s just got tremendous vision. He’s got great explosion. When he sees a hole or opening, he has tremendous explosion. He’s got great lower-body strength. He breaks a lot of tackles with his legs. He’s an extremely tough guy.”

Frank Strong – LB – University of Southern California – 6’1 220lbs.
A one-time running back and then free safety that moved to weak side linebacker in his senior season.
Has 563 career yards on kick off returns, which ranks 13th on USC all time.
In 2001 he had 60 tackles, 5 deflected passes, 1 interception, 2 forced fumbles and 2 fumble recoveries earning him an invitation to play in the Paradise Bowl.
In 1996, as a senior at Franklin High in Stockton, California he rushed for 1,460 yards and 30 touchdowns on offense and had 100-plus tackles and 4 interceptions and 2 touchdowns as a linebacker on defense. He also was the punter, kicker and returned kicks. (6 KO returns for touchdowns)

Nate Jackson – WR – Menlo College – 6’4 215lbs.
Holds every receiving record at the school playing for just 3 years and finishing his career with 261 catches for 3,976 yards and 43 touchdowns.
Head Coach – Mark Kaanapu
“He has great size and average speed. What sets him apart is his ability to come down with the ball, regardless of the circumstances.”
Unlike most Division III players, Jackson has a big fan, named Bill Walsh who thinks that Jackson was the best player in Division III football last year.
“He has great hands and great concentration. You might question if he’s quick enough to play in the NFL, but he reminds me of an Ed McCaffery type receiver.”

Ryan Fletcher – DT – Hofstra – 6’2 280lbs
He has a strong base, some quickness to the snap and the functional strength to be a force in the middle of a defense.
In 2001 he had 89 tackles, 5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and 14 QB hurries earning him All Atlantic 10 first team honors.
In 2000 he was a 2nd team I-AA Independent All-Star finishing with 47 tackles, 6 sacks, 1 fumble recovery and 14 tackles for loss.
As a senior at Glen Cove High School in Long Island he was named to All Long Island and All Nassau County teams finishing with 85 tackles and 18 sacks.

Donnie O’Neal – WR – Arizona State – 6’1 190lbs
He came to ASU from Coffeyville Community College in 2000 and started every game that season finishing with 39 catches for 661 yards and 7 touchdowns.
He was named the Co-Offensive MVP along with Todd Heap.
In 2001 he had 45 catches for 711 yards and 4 touchdowns.
Head Coaches Bruce Snyder and Dirk Koettner
“He’s probably our most consistent, pure receiver. He just goes out and catches the ball. He’s played on special teams and blocked a punt.”

“He’s got plenty of speed, excellent body control and knows how to maneuver. He is a very solid player who has the potential to make big plays.”

Scott Lipford – WR/KR – Rowan College – 6’0 175lbs.
In 35 career games he has 142 catches for 2,647 yards and 27 touchdowns.
In 2001 he had 47 catches for 969 yards and 16 touchdowns and had a 27.4-yard average on kick returns earning him NJAC All-Conference Offense and Special Teams 1st Team honors.
His 107.7 yard average receiving and his 167.6 all-purpose yard average were tops in the NJAC.
The Brooks-Irvine Memorial Football Club named him the Southern New Jersey Division III Player of the Year.
In 2000 he had 54 catches for 842 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Head Coach – KC Keeler
“He’s become a dominant receiver, one of the best ever to play here. He’s so explosive.”

Mike Hart – TE – Duke – 6’6 250lbs
He is a very productive possession receiver who works well with the QB.
He is a limited athlete who lacks the strength and explosion as a blocker and speed and quickness as a receiver.
In 2001 he had 30 catches for 476 yards and 4 touchdowns making him Team MVP and All ACC 1st team honors.
In 2000 he had 31 catches for 540 yards making him Team MVP and All ACC 2nd team honors.
Coming out of High School he was considered one of the top prep athletes on Long Island. He was named the 5th best tight end prospect in the Big East Region.

Austin Lee – DE – Stanford – 6’6 275lbs
Started 18 games in his career and recorded 68 tackles, 10.5 sacks and 22 tackles for loss.
In 2001 he recorded 22 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 6 tackles for loss in just seven games before spraining the MCL in his right knee.
He was highly recruited by the 49ers Offensive Line Coach Pat Morris who also coached at Stanford.
He will be converted to Offensive Tackle in his attempt to make the 49ers.
Pat Morris
“He played Tight End and Defensive End coming out of High School, but at the time Stanford put all of their best players on defense.”

Brian Haugabrook – WR – University of Florida – 6’1 192lbs
He was the 4th or 5th receiver in Steve Spurrier’s offense, which did not get him much playing time as he finished his career with only 34 catches for 415 yards and 5 touchdowns.
Wide Receiver Coach – Dwayne Dixon
“He’s an excellent athlete and he doesn’t really know how strong he is. We’re trying to encourage him that when defensive backs are bumping and shoving him to bump and shove back. He’s learning how to run routes and get open and make something happen in the passing game. He has excellent speed and size and is one of the best all around athletes on the team.”

Matt Stanley – FB – UCLA – 6’3 240lbs.
A veteran player who is a dependable blocker and a steady performer was awarded a scholarship in 1999 after 2 years as a walk on.
He possesses great size and strength.
His Father and Uncle both played for UCLA in the 60’s.
He was used primarily as a blocker and on special teams finishing his career with 23 carries for 122 yards and one touchdown.
At Bexley High School in Columbus, Ohio in 1996 as a senior he was named Team MVP after rushing for 1,460 yards and 25 touchdowns.
He rushed for over 4,000 yards and scored 48 touchdowns in his HS career.
He also earned 3 Varsity letters in Basketball and 2 each in baseball and track.

Brandon Moore – LB – Oklahoma – 6’1 232lbs.
He is the brother of Wide Receiver Rob Moore, the long time Arizona Cardinal.
In 2001 he switched to Outside Linebacker and in 8 starts he had 36 tackles, 1 sack, 2 fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and 3 tackles for loss.
In 3 seasons at Middle Linebacker he had 143 tackles and 3 sacks.
He is a mobile linebacker who sees the play quickly, locates the ball consistently and has the burst of speed to finish the play.
Has quick hands and footwork that allows him to flow to the ball easily and make the play, but he not an accomplished cover man.

Zack Grady – LB – Jackson State – 6’4 240lbs
A former all-state High School linebacker, he is extremely talented with unlimited potential.
He is the prototype linebacker good size, good speed and a fierce tackler.
In 2001 he had 93 tackles, 4 sacks, 13 tackles for loss, 1 forced fumble, 4 QB hurries and 2 blocked kicks.
In 2000 he had 47 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, 1 interception and 3 pass deflections.

Darryl Sanders – DE – University of Virginia – 6’3 286lbs.
Head Coach Al Groh labeled him as a “warrior” for playing well despite being outsized by virtually every lineman he went up against.
In 2001 he had 73 tackles, 5 sacks, 9 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery, a forced fumble and 12 QB hurries.
In 2000 he had 44 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and 8 QB hurries.
In High School he was named the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference MVP and was a 3 time All Conference Selection on both offense and defense.

Ryan Fernandez – CB – Stanford – 5’11 178lbs.
He is a very steady, consistent and experienced defensive back that possesses excellent cover skills and the speed and ability to make plays.
He began his college career as wide receiver.
In 2001 he had 49 tackles, 2 interceptions, 2 tackles for loss and 12 pas break ups.
In 2000 he had 48 tackles, 3 interceptions, 2 tackles for loss and 9 pass break ups.
Secondary Coach Denny Schuler
“I think Ryan has steadily improved each season. I’m very pleased with his progress. His footwork and speed have improved. His combine times and marks have improved across the board. He’s a very physical and intelligent player.”
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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