49ers UDFA No. 3: S Leon O’Neal Jr., Texas A&M
Texas A&M strong safety Leon O’Neal Jr. was a player who showed up on one of Niner Noise’s pre-NFL Draft breakdowns of safeties the team could potentially target.
At best a day-three option, it was nevertheless a steal to have the 6-foot, 204-pound O’Neal slip through the ranks of the drafted and onto the Niners’ offseason roster as an undrafted player where he could immediately add to the depth behind presumed contributors like Jimmie Ward, Talanoa Hufanga, George Odum and Tarvarius Moore.
It’s important to keep in mind San Francisco lost one of its depth safeties in Marcell Harris, who made the transition to linebacker amid poorish coverage abilities last season but nevertheless turned that into a free-agent foray with the New York Jets.
Not unlike Harris, O’Neal is certainly a better candidate for in-the-box roles, as he posted 58 total tackles and a sack during his final year with the Aggies but still has some questionable coverage abilities because of his general lack of speed.
However, O’Neal helps make up for that with good instincts and play recognition, which should help him remain a dark-horse candidate to survive roster cuts right away.