Out of all the undrafted free agent signings for the San Francisco 49ers, it's running back Khalan Laborn who might just be the most talented of the lot.
One talent that general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have always possessed since they began at the San Francisco 49ers, is the ability to pluck running backs from the undrafted or journeyman scrapheap and turn them into productive members of the roster.
Khalan Laborn is one of two running backs they picked up after the draft, and it's especially easy to see why Laborn was eagerly sought after by Lynch and Shanahan.
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Laborn used to be a highly touted running back, a five-star recruit out of high school who chose Florida State and seemed poised to be a breakout star for the Seminoles. Laborn never truly found his feet at Florida State, however, and ended up at Marshall after being kicked off the Florida State team for a violation of team rules.
After the transition, though, Laborn made the most of his opportunity for Marshall with 302 carries for 1,513 yards and 16 touchdowns while also having 16 receptions for 116 yards. He followed that up with an exceptional Pro Day, too, with Sports Illustrated noting that his 40-yard dash would’ve ranked sixth among running backs at the NFL Combine, his 3-cone-drill would have been top of the board, his broad jump tied for third, his vertical jump would have been third, and bench press would have been second.
In short, one of the best testers among all running backs, period. With only one full season under his belt, Laborn has a lot of untapped potential and not a lot of proverbial wear on the tires also.
While rookie minicamp isn't going to turn heads by itself, Sports Illustrated's Grant Cohn (yes, some don't like him, but he's an excellent source for all the preseason work) highlighted Laborn's strong start wearing the red and gold:
"By far the most impressive undrafted free agent in the field. Has thick legs, a strong upper body and very little body fat. Caught three passes in the flat and exploded after the catch. I expect he will make the 53-man roster sooner rather than later.
Training camp will be key for the young running back. While Christian McCaffrey is the undoubted star at the position, there's always room for a hungry young player who can do it all in the rotation. If Laborn can show he can be a strong receiving back and rotational runner, his potential might just be too good to risk putting on the practice squad.
And if that's what ends up happening, the 49ers are going to have to make a difficult decision or two to keep him around for Week 1.