49ers roster 2023: Spencer Waege, the Niners' other North Dakota State player

The Niners need pass-rushing depth, and Spencer Waege might be a darkhorse answer.
North Dakota State edge Spencer Waege (99)
North Dakota State edge Spencer Waege (99) / Sean Arbaut/GettyImages

Undrafted rookie Spencer Waege has an awfully tough task to make the 49ers' 53-man roster, but there are traits worth developing.

San Francisco 49ers rookie edge rusher Spencer Waege is unique for a couple of notable reasons.

For starters, he helps comprise a Niners team that has more Spencers than any other in the NFL (not kidding, Niners Wire did a report on this).

Additionally, Waege is another former North Dakota State Bison player on San Francisco's roster, the other being a particular quarterback who happens to be in the national spotlight for one reason or another.

Quarterback Trey Lance might have that link with Waege from his collegiate days, but the latter's path to the 49ers was much more difficult. After going undrafted last April, the 6-foot-5 and 295-pound Waege signed an undrafted free-agent deal with the Niners shortly after the draft concluded.

The year prior, and a year after suffering a serious knee injury, Waege posted 51 total tackles, 17.5 of which were for a loss, nine sacks, two forced fumbles and a blocked punt.

What do the 49ers like about Spencer Waege?

Aside from having the build of a top pass-rusher, Waege likely attracted San Francisco is his sheer athleticism, which showed up during his pro day.

That 1.66-second 10-yard split is something The Krueg Show's Larry Krueger pointed out, too, and it could be that get-off (another point made in the video below) that translates into Waege being something special and coming out of nowhere.

That said, Waege went undrafted for a number of reasons, and it's not just the injury from 2021 or playing in the FCS that would have deterred teams from drafting him.

As Niner Noise's own draft expert, Jeremy Wohlfart pointed out, Waege might be "merely a tweener" with no true NFL-level position fit.

However, as a developmental prospect, the 49ers could have done worse.

Does Spencer Waege have a shot at the 49ers' 53-man roster?

Undrafted free agents always face a tough road at making a team's 53-man roster, and that's especially true for a talent-laden squad like the Niners with notably few spots available on the regular-season squad.

That said, there is usually a player or two from the undrafted ranks who winds up impressing San Francisco enough to claim a spot.

The 49ers lost two edge rushers during the offseason, Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam. And while they added Clelin Ferrell, Austin Bryant and another rookie in Robert Beal Jr., the depth behind All-Pro edge Nick Bosa is still quite thin.

Plus, Bryant and Beal have only modestly better chances at making the Niners' 53-man roster than Waege. If the latter impresses a lot between now and roster cuts, there's absolutely a reasonable chance he's around for Week 1 in some sort of depth/rotational capacity.

From there, it'd be interesting to see how his career arc would develop and whether or not he could turn into a quality back-end pass-rushing reserve.

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