A Twitter video made Isaiah Winstead a talking point after the 2023 NFL Draft, but can he be more than just a viral hit after signing with the San Francisco 49ers?
Welcome to another article of The Undrafted Corner, where we dive deeper into the undrafted free-agent class of the San Francisco 49ers. Preseason games and training camp are for the fringe players and rookies who play as their lives depend on it, so it makes sense to get a closer look at such players.
If you were looking at social media following the NFL Draft, you might already know the story of Isaiah Winstead, the wide receiver from East Carolina. Winstead went undrafted despite his 6-foot-4 and 201-pound size and some admittedly impressive moves that showcased his athleticism.
Considering his size and athleticism, Winstead's bafflement was perhaps understandable. He was a productive receiver, too, with 88 receptions for 1,085 yards and six touchdowns for East Carolina in 2022.
The 49ers denied that the viral tweet played a role in signing him, but they certainly signed him after the initial take of undrafted free agents and after the tweet went vital, so make of that timing what you will.
Winstead faces an uphill battle to make the team with at least six receivers ahead of him on the depth chart. Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings, Danny Gray, Ray-Ray McCloud and seventh-round rookie Ronnie Bell (who's been impressive in the first week of OTAs) are all definitely ahead right now.
With 2023 unlikely to be a time for Winstead to make a statement, 2024 is looking a bit different. The Niners are likely to have to pick between Aiyuk and Deebo while trading the other, so there's likely to be a battle this time next year for a starter opposite who isn't traded.
If Winstead impresses this preseason and gets onto the practice squad, he'll have a real chance at making an impact in 2024 if he does develop.
Even if he just sneaks onto the main roster, there can be chances for him to make an impact down the line.
Winstead might have been a minorly viral tweet after the draft, but now he finally has a team it's up to him to show the other 31 teams that they made a mistake not getting him onto their roster.