49ers depth chart: Predicting futures for 2021 undrafted rookies
By Peter Panacy
The 49ers didn’t bring aboard too many undrafted rookies following the 2021 NFL Draft, but let’s try predicting where they land this upcoming season.
The San Francisco 49ers had only a handful of roster spots to fill following the pickup of eight players in the 2021 NFL Draft, meaning the team’s moves on the undrafted free-agent wire were pretty minimal.
In total, the Niners brought in a mere four players who went undrafted:
- TE Josh Pederson, Louisiana-Monroe
- WR Austin Watkins, UAB
- LB Elijah Sullivan, Kansas State
- LB Justin Hilliard, Ohio State
UDFA players always have a tough road ahead of them to crack a 53-man roster, and it’s more often than not they’re mere training camp bodies with an outsider’s chance of making the practice squad than anything else.
And while a lesser fate could await all four of these rookies, perhaps one or two of them wind up sneaking onto San Francisco’s regular-season roster.
While camp will ultimately determine this, there are some other factors at play here leading to our predictions for these four players’ immediate futures in 2021.
49ers TE Josh Pederson
Son of former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, Josh Pederson made something of a name for himself with over 900 receiving yards the last two seasons and nine touchdowns during that span.
At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Pederson reportedly moves well and has some good speed to his game, but those same reports suggest his blocking skills are going to require a lot of improvement.
The 49ers already have a trio of NFL-ready tight ends in George Kittle, Ross Dwelley and MyCole Pruitt, along with second-year pro Charlie Woerner. So it doesn’t appear as if Pederson has an inside track for a spot on the 53-man roster.
Especially considering his UDFA contract includes just $28,000 in guaranteed money, per Over the Cap.
Pruitt and Woerner are far superior blockers, so it doesn’t look like there’ll be much of a need to keep Pederson around. Even on the practice squad.