The 49ers stashed undrafted Jason Poe on their practice squad in 2022, but his versatility could help the O-line's depth this season.
While the San Francisco 49ers have a reputation for identifying and then developing late-round or undrafted running backs and turning them into quality players, they arguably have had more success doing the same with offensive linemen in recent years.
Ben Garland, Daniel Brunskill, Colton McKivitz and Jake Brendel were all late-round NFL Draft picks or undrafted free agents whom the Niners landed one way or another, and each of them turned into starters at various points during their respective San Francisco careers.
Perhaps offensive lineman Jason Poe, a 2022 undrafted free-agent pickup out of Mercer, is the next in line.
The 49ers had a predraft meeting with Poe a little over a year ago, and he ended up being one of their undrafted free-agent additions that offseason who had a legitimate chance at making the Niners' 53-man roster in year one.
Alas, it didn't happen. Poe was relegated to the practice squad his rookie season, and he didn't receive in an-season call-up even when San Francisco needed extra bodies.
Still, Poe told Niner Noise earlier this offseason that he was willing to do whatever to help the 49ers win a Super Bowl, and the same mentality carries over to 2023.
"I don’t want to [be on the practice squad], but if I have to, hey, let’s go win that Super Bowl," Poe told Niner Noise. "So, anything to do to help the team’s expectations."
What do 49ers like about Jason Poe?
Poe, a converted fullback from college, moves well for his 6-foot-1, 300-pound frame. And he has the versatility to play all three interior positions despite being a little on the shorter side.
During training camp a year ago, All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams had nothing but praise for Poe:
Poe also has strength. And while he might need some additional technique to help him withstand O-line duties against first-string defenders, perhaps a year or two in development on the practice squad will translate into him being a go-to backup in the not-so-distant future.
What are the 49ers paying Jason Poe right now?
On a one-year deal, Over the Cap has Jason Poe potentially earning up to $750,000 if he makes the Niners' 53-man roster.
With zero guaranteed money, though, San Francisco would suffer zero financial ramifications if it waived him and placed him back on the practice squad prior to the regular season beginning.
Will Jason Poe make the 49ers' 53-man roster in 2023?
Poe's chances of hanging around and earning a spot on the regular-season squad are better this year than they were in 2022.
Brunskill, the 49ers' versatile lineman from 2019 through 2022, is gone via free agency. And while the Niners inked Jon Feliciano to effectively take Brunskill's place, Poe could earn some recognition as an alternate lineman, particularly with him taking snaps at center during training camp.
Aside from 2023 UDFA rookie Corey Luciano, San Francisco doesn't have a true center on its roster to back up Brendel.
So, if Poe can master those duties, it would increase his roster odds significantly over the remaining depth players looking to claim one of three or four backup spots on the depth chart. When starting left guard Aaron Banks was placed into the concussion protocol during camp, Poe was one who was called upon to fill in the void with the first-team unit.
A good sign.
Poe will still have to prove his value during the rest of camp and into the preseason, though. But at least signs are pointing up to him being a contributor instead of another practice squad body this season.