Winning in undrafted free agency isn’t a priority, per se, but the 49ers definitely did so by inking Arizona State center Dohnovan West after the 2022 NFL Draft.
There were probably plenty of San Francisco 49ers fans wondering what in the heck their team was doing on day three of the 2022 NFL Draft, regularly passing on Arizona State center Dohnovan West with each of the six picks general manager John Lynch had in Rounds 4 through 7.
Each time around, the Niners selected someone else. But then again, so did 31 other teams.
In the minutes following San Francisco capping off this year’s draft with pick No. 262 overall, used on Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy, Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson reported the team was inking West as an undrafted free agent:
West highlights what should be considered an excellent haul from this 49ers undrafted NFL free agency cast. And while these players are still UDFAs, who’ll ultimately have a much steeper hill to climb in order to crack the regular-season 53-man roster, West might be viewed as the biggest steal of all.
49ers win UDFA period by signing Dohnovan West
It’s easy to get hyped about rookie prospects who slip and are subsequently grabbed later in one way or another.
While West remains an unproven talent, as is the case with every other rookie, drafted or undrafted, the hype on him entering NFL Draft season is undeniable.
Case in point, the final mock draft, done by ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay, had West going in Round 3, No. 101 overall, to the Philadelphia Eagles.
Plenty of mocks and big boards tabbed West as a day-two pick, while others had him no worse than an early selection on day three.
49ers could actually use Dohnovan West sooner than later
In addition to the report from Wilson, highlighting the guaranteed money West will receive, the UDFA signing shouldn’t merely be considered a camp flier.
The Niners may end up sorely needing West as an immediate option, namely with veteran Pro Bowl center Alex Mack reportedly mulling over retiring and the team not exactly having a bona fide center on the roster who could be a plug-and-play option. Sure, San Francisco could bump right guard Daniel Brunskill over into Mack’s spot, which would likely push one of its other two NFL Draft linemen selected, Spencer Burford and Nick Zakelj, into a potential guard role right away.
But that would still create something of a need to have a backup for Brunskill.
Enter West… again.
Granted, head coach Kyle Shanahan prefers to have veterans hold down this vital spot on the offensive line, so it might be premature to assume West would start right away if Mack retires.
As far as a
sign-and-develop player goes, however, West could still easily project as a long-term option to replace the soon-to-be 37-year-old Mack anyway.
Not bad from the 49ers’ vantage point. Not bad at all.