Monday, April 30, 2012

49ers Sign Intriguing Undrafted Free Agent

Every single college player that declares for the NFL draft hopes that they hear their name called at some point during the 3-day extravaganza, but those that don't are left scrambling to find jobs in free agency, just as any other player would, and the 49ers got themselves one potentially diamond in the rough.

Chris Owusu's 4.3 Speed
The 49ers wasted no time in assessing which un-drafted players they wanted, as they composed a name of about 13-15 players they tendered contracts to, but not every player signed with them. The one player that did except their offer to be re-united with his former College coach at Stanford was star wideout Chris Owusu. This guy has been by far the best collegiate receiver in the Bay Area over the last few years, but has been limited due to the fact he suffered 3 severe concussions within 13 months. It made teams shy away from using a pick on him, though plenty of teams inquired about signing him, he thought it best to reunite with coach Harbough. I think really has a chance to make some noise, and that is Stanford's fast, 6'2" 200 pound WR, Chris Owusu. The talented Owusu was QB Andrew Luck's prime target when he was on the field, but the problem for Owusu has been multiple concussions which wilted his draft status and kept him on the sidelines for just about as much time as he was on the field. The big sign to me that his upside is unlimited, is the fact he had 692 yards and 5 TD's as a Sophomore, the year in which Andrew Luck really broke out. That was also the only season in which he played in every game for the Cardinal, as the concussions begin to hamper him at the start of his Junior year. He played just 6 games that year (2010), but did manage to put up a huge 9-catch, 165 yard performance vs. AZ. He showed 4.3 speed at the combine and is medically cleared for full contact. The risk with him, and the reason he went un-drafted, is that he's another head-shot or bad concussion away from being knocked out of football for good. His big play ability, and size, could spell end of the road to Kyle Williams. Owusu, if healthy and not held back by concussion symptoms, he's got the upside to be as good as other 49ers first round receivers, Michael Crabtree and A.J. Jenkins.

Speaking of Crabtree and the 49ers receiving corps, the Niners held a mini-camp workout Monday, and got the pleasure of seeing Randy Moss dawn his #84 in the 49ers colors for the first time. I just saw photos from the workout, but from what I saw and am hearing, Moss looks to be in tremendous shape and appears quite motivated to be that big play wideout the 49ers lacked last season. What a difference Alex Smith will now have heading into 2012, with the assortment of weapons at his disposal. Along with Moss, free agent signee Mario Manningham is also set to take on a large role in this teams passing attack, then there's Crabtree
Moss Looks Strong
and Ginn as holdovers. However, A.J. Jenkins, as Harbough eluded to in his press conference, will be thrown right into the fire to compete for a starting job himself. The 49ers should have a good healthy competition going at WR now, especially with Owusu in the mix as they have 7-8 realistic options for only 5-6 spaces. The 49ers also added Stanford UDFA's, D-End Matt Masifulu and strong safety Michael Taylor. The 49ers are still in the midst of finalizing a lot of their undrafted FA's, so they haven't released the official list yet, but unfortunately it won't contain the names of guys I was hoping like LB Vontaze Burfict, CB's Chase Minnfield or Coryell Judie, G Lucas Nix and perhaps best of all, UNC WR Dwight Jones. The 6'4", 225 pound Jones almost mirrored A.J. Jenkins' numbers last year (85/1,196/11) but did not have the best of combine workouts or 40-times. Still, he's exactly what the 49ers don't have, unless Mr. Moss reverts back to his 10+ TD per season ways, which is a wideout that can go up and grab the jump ball in the end-zone or rune the fade route. As much as I like Owusu, I would have taken Jones if given a choice, but see no reason they couldn't get both, considering they signed a few other no-name wideouts.

Anyway, what a weekend, starting with a surprise first round choice of A.J. Jenkins, then culminating with the mini-camp workout Monday in which most of the team's newly acquire talent showed up for. All in all, I'd have loved to have seen Chase Minnifield, Lucas Nix, Dwight Jones and Owusu all sign with San Francisco, but obviously Trent Baalke and Jim Harbough have a much different idea as to this teams needs than us bloggers and fans and after the success they had with a similar formula last season, who am I to question their choices at this point!

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