49ers add only a handful of UDFAs after 2021 NFL Draft

Austin Watkins #6 of the UAB Blazers (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Austin Watkins #6 of the UAB Blazers (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

The 49ers weren’t overly active scrambling for undrafted players after the 2021 NFL Draft, largely because their roster was mostly full.

The San Francisco 49ers had only four positions open for their 90-man roster entering day three of the 2021 NFL Draft. And interestingly enough, they had four picks on day three of the draft, too, three in Round 5 and the final one in Round 6.

As general manager John Lynch and Co. put the finishing touches on the Niners’ 2021 draft class, some looked at a number of potential undrafted players as would-be free-agent fits if they slipped through Round 7 where San Francisco wasn’t poised to select.

While a few did, the 49ers weren’t overly active on the undrafted free-agent market either, grabbing only a handful of players in the hours after the draft concluded.

Here’s the list of UDFA players so far selected by the Niners on Saturday.

49ers 2021 undrafted free-agent tracker

TE Josh Pederson, Louisiana-Monroe

San Francisco has been seeking some reserve tight end help over the past few years, and they’re hoping small-school prospect Josh Pederson, the son of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, can carve out a role for himself on the 49ers offseason roster, according to Mike Kaye of NJ.com.

Pederson had 934 receiving yards the last two years on 75 catches and nine touchdowns during that span.

LB Justin Hilliard, Ohio State

In 2019, the Niners found and developed another undrafted linebacker, Azeez Al-Shaair, into a quality special teams ace and spot starter on the depth chart.

Perhaps the next player in line to be part of this crop is Ohio State linebacker Justin Hilliard, who’s joining San Francisco, according to 247 Sports’ Dave Biddle.

Hilliard had two redshirt years at Ohio State, so the 49ers are banking on him being further developed, physically, even though he might not have the ceiling in the wake of a number of serious injuries with the Buckeyes.

In six seasons there, the 6-foot-1 and 231-pound Hilliard had 53 tackles, nine of which were for a loss, as well as three passes broken up, three fumble recoveries and two interceptions.

WR Austin Watkins Jr., UAB

It was a bit of a shock to see the Niners not add wide receivers in the draft, although UAB’s Austin Watkins Jr. could be one of those sleeper players worth developing.


In an abbreviated seven-game season last year, Watkins hauled in 34 passes for 468 yards and three touchdowns. But the 6-foot-3, 210-pound wideout’s 2019 campaign surely was more provocative, as Watkins managed to go over the 1,000-yard receiving plateau on 57 catches along with six touchdowns.

Already, Watkins is one of the bigger wide receivers on San Francisco’s depth chart, meaning he might be carving himself out a role as a potential red-zone target and third-down weapon.

LB Elijah Sullivan, Kansas State

Like Hilliard, Kansas State linebacker Elijah Sullivan spent six years at the collegiate level and will join the 49ers thereafter as a UDFA:

Pretty significant as far as the guarantees go, so one could assume the Niners want to keep the 6-foot, 215-pound Sullivan around for a while.

Sullivan managed 108 tackles with 7.5 of them coming for a loss, two sacks, two interceptions and four passes defended over his six-year collegiate career.

Since the 49ers roster was full at the conclusion of Round 7, these UDFA transactions will ultimately correspond with some other players on the 90-man roster being moved in one way or another.

And the list of undrafted players could ultimately grow, too, between now and training camp.

Next. 49ers NFL Draft 2021: Live tracker with updates, analysis. dark