The 49ers made former North Carolina linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel a priority free-agent signing after the 2022 NFL Draft, and his development is key.
Usually, it’s fair to look at undrafted free agents mostly as training camp roster bodies who help round out the back end of the depth chart and will contribute in the second half of preseason games with the long-shot hope of cracking a 53-man roster.
Somewhere, if not with the respective teams that sign them.
However, as is the case with one of the UDFAs the San Francisco 49ers brought aboard following the 2022 NFL Draft, former North Carolina linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel, bringing him along as a potential long-term contributor might be wise.
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Gemmel, a three-year collegiate starter and two-year team captain, possesses the leadership traits needed for a field general-type linebacker, and “the General” was actually his nickname with the Tar Heels, per his NFL.com scouting report.
That attribute bodes well for him, but Gemmel still has an awfully long way to go before solidifying a legitimate shot to make the Niners’ regular-season roster.
Let’s take a look at what’s in store for him in 2022, though.
Why Jeremiah Gemmel impresses 49ers in 2022
At 6-foot-1 and 226 pounds, Gemmel is likely to be restricted to off-ball, weak-side roles where he can use his playmaking skills in open spaces and outside of the crowd.
For San Francisco fans recalling former 49ers linebacker Chris Borland back in 2015, that might be the kind of ceiling impact for the North Carolina product.
As a plus, as broken down in that same draft profile, Gemmel plays with that high-intensity motor that should make him a presence all around the field, and he’s not afraid to involve himself in any play no matter what the context.
That’ll bode well for him whenever he’s able to sniff the field.
Why Jeremiah Gemmel makes no impact for 49ers in 2022
Aside from the commonly associated low expectations for UDFAs, there are always going to be question marks about smaller-bodied linebackers in Gemmel’s mold. And it doesn’t appear as if he has a lot of room to max out his frame without it impacting the relentlessness he already brings to the field.
Coverage also isn’t Gemmel’s strong suit, meaning he can’t be put into the box of what many look for in today’s coverage-hybrid linebacker.
If anything, Gemmel is a bit of a throwback but lacking the size necessary to provide that added thump.
Projected role, chances of making 49ers’ 53-man roster this season
San Francisco already has a pretty stacked linebacker corps entering 2022. There’s no way Gemmel will challenge one of the three presumed starters this upcoming season: Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair. And the UDFA is also going to find himself looking up on the depth chart at reservists like Oren Burks and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, too.
The 49ers have committed far more resources to those names, and even Burks and Flannigan-Fowles offer much more right now, and combined with the starting trio of Warner, Greenlaw and Al-Shaair, that’s likely your depth chart at the position for the upcoming season.
And that probably tells you what you need to know about Gemmel’s chances for the 53-man roster in 2022.
However, both Greenlaw and Al-Shaair are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents in 2023, meaning there’s always the outside hope Gemmel develops into a quality option. While a Borland-like impact might be a distant hope, putting the rookie on a trajectory not unlike what Al-Shaair, a former UDFA himself, went through would be exceptionally wise.
If the Niners are able to stash Gemmel on the practice squad, of course, which likely winds up being the ultimate and most realistic goal for him to stick with the team long term.