49ers roster: 4 UDFAs who could actually make 53-man squad this year
By Peter Panacy
Of the 49ers’ haul of undrafted free agents following the 2022 NFL Draft, these four likely stand the best shot at making the 53-man roster.
Undrafted free agents always have a much tougher time trying to land a full-time job in the NFL. In most cases, they’re offseason roster fillers, the players who round out a depth chart in training camp and see the bulk of playing time in the fourth quarter of preseason games before getting the inevitable cut prior to Week 1.
For many, their NFL dreams end there.
There are a handful of exceptions from time to time, though. Case in point with the San Francisco 49ers, they turned a UDFA wide receiver, Kendrick Bourne, into a quality offensive contributor, and he subsequently turned his four years with the Niners into a lucrative free-agent deal with the New England Patriots in 2021.
Of San Francisco’s 14 undrafted free agents originally signed after the 2022 NFL Draft, are there any under-the-radar gems who could have a Bourne-like start to a pro career?
If so, it’ll likely involve one of these four UDFAs.
49ers UDFA No. 4: Linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel
Of the four who could possibly impress enough during training camp and the preseason this year, former North Carolina linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel probably stands the longest odds at making the 53-man roster.
Still, the highly experienced and extremely aggressive Gemmel is certainly a fringe player worth watching.
The 49ers have a stacked crop of linebackers, including Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw and Azeez Al-Shaair, backed up by reserves like Oren Burks and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles. It’s not likely the Niners keep six backers on their roster, but it is possible, although Gemmel will have to showcase his special teams value to hang around, something he didn’t do a lot of during his collegiate tenure.
Known more for being an old-school, hard-hitting linebacker than a more modern coverage-type option, the 6-foot-1 and 225-pound Gemmel will improve his chances by flashing his leadership and physicality this offseason.
With his long-term developmental traits to follow, San Francisco might consider it wise to not risk subjecting him to waivers and subsequently onto the practice squad.