49ers Rookie No. 3: WR Austin Watkins
Rookie players to watch in training camp don’t always have to include drafted players.
One of the Niners’ undrafted additions, former UAB wide receiver Austin Watkins, has an open path to climb up high on the depth chart between now and Week 1.
Watkins, 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, is one of the many candidates to assume the role vacated by now-New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne, who left via free agency this offseason. Long the No. 3 option on the depth chart, Bourne was primarily a third-down possession receiver doubling as a red-zone threat.
While receivers Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk have cemented themselves as WRs 1 and 2 heading towards 2021, the depth behind them remains questionable.
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As a UDFA, Watkins doesn’t have lofty expectations. But his hands, catch radius and physicality, paired with above-average speed, make for an interesting combination potentially serviceable enough to pick up where Bourne left off.
Watkins will have to compete with other depth receivers like Trent Sherfield, Mohamed Sanu, Jalen Hurd and Jauan Jennings, among others, to work his way up the depth chart among the bigger-bodied wideouts on San Francisco’s roster.
Yet none of those names are shoo-in candidates to assume this role, meaning if Watkins stands out early, his chances for earning some second-team snaps in training camp increase a lot.