49ers depth chart: Predicting futures for 2021 undrafted rookies

Linebacker Justin Hilliard #6 from Ohio State (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images)
Linebacker Justin Hilliard #6 from Ohio State (Photo by Don Juan Moore/Getty Images) /
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Justin Hilliard, Ohio State Buckeyes
Ohio State Buckeyes linebacker Justin Hilliard (47) Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers LB Justin Hilliard

Of all the UDFA players San Francisco brought in this season, few are as interesting or provocative as Justin Hilliard.

Like Elijah Sullivan, Hilliard also received a $125,000 amount of his guaranteed money, so that automatically makes him a contender for the 53-man roster, if for nothing else but the financial aspect.

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Yet despite Hilliard’s relentless motor and notable elements of leadership, he’s also dealt with a number of serious injuries that resulted in a six-year collegiate campaign and likely dropped his NFL Draft stock into the undrafted ranks.

More of a strong-side (SAM) linebacker, the 6-foot-1, 231-pound Hilliard doesn’t have the necessary speed to be a reliable pass-coverage player, although he’s been more than effective defending against the run, and one shouldn’t overlook his abilities on special teams.

The latter attribute could be the reason why the 49ers consider him as a back-end piece on their 53-man roster.

He’ll have to prove his value during training camp, of course. And those injury worries aren’t going to go away anytime soon.

But Hilliard could wind up being the Niners’ lone add from this year’s UDFA class who winds up surviving roster cuts en route to being on the regular-season roster in Week 1.

Prediction: 49ers name Justin Hilliard to 53-man roster

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