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49ers roster: Jason Poe a plausible ‘diamond in the rough’ – Niner Noise

Jason Poe #62 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images)
The 49ers indicated they liked Jason Poe before the 2022 NFL Draft, but him going undrafted meant a swift and easy addition to the offseason roster.
The San Francisco 49ers didn’t shy away from targeting some small-school players both during and after the 2022 NFL Draft.
Case in point, two of the Niners’ draftees came from small schools, cornerback Samuel Womack out of Toledo and offensive lineman Nick Zakelj out of Fordham.
Of the 14 undrafted free agents San Francisco brought aboard, offensive guard Jason Poe out of Mercer rounded out the team’s interest in small-school players who might ascend well beyond the ranks of training-camp tryouts.
The 49ers met with Poe before the NFL Draft, signaling at least a possibility they were interested in him. And when the 6-foot-1, 300-pound lineman went through undrafted, the Niners pounced.
Granted, UDFA players always face a tough road cracking a 53-man roster in year one, and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not Poe will develop into an NFL-caliber player.
However, there are a lot of things to like about his game that could translate into the lineman being something useful for San Francisco, especially in light of its offensive line having some serious question marks ahead of the 2022 season.
While Poe might be a bit on the smallish side of things, there’s no questioning his speed and explosiveness.
It probably helps to know he started off his collegiate career as a fullback, which might help explain his sub-5.0 40-yard time during his pro day.
Bleacher Report’s NFL Draft breakdown suggests some additional traits that could work well in Poe’s favor, too:
— Shot out of a cannon as a puller, with the speed and range to connect at a high rate on smaller targets.
— Very good short-area quickness. Smoothly adjusts his track and aiming points on the move with fluid mirror ability in pass protection.
— Excellent natural leverage that he can use to get under and dig out opponents, with good grip strength to strain through contact once latched.
— Plays with good energy and competitive toughness to finish through the whistle.
The movement skills might translate well into an interior role, especially for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone-style blocking system.
That same B/R article called out Poe for being a little too hyperaggressive and not using enough finesse and technique in his game. As a result, Poe can be subject to both bull rushes (because of his size limitations) and finesse moves that take advantage of his technique shortcomings.
If there’s good news here, a good chunk of his development can be coached up.
However, with some modest concern about his body size not being able to absorb too much more functional weight, he might always have challenges against bigger pass-rushers at the NFL level.
Speaking of those concerns the 49ers have, left guard Laken Tomlinson departed via free agency, center Alex Mack retired and right guard Daniel Brunskill might be a player the Niners would prefer to upgrade over.
There are some players who likely have a better chance at securing a starting job in Tomlinson or Mack’s wake, including the aforementioned Zakelj and another draftee, Spencer Burford out of UTSA. Plus, a number of returning depth linemen like Aaron Banks, Justin Skule, Colton McKivitz and Jaylon Moore are in the mix, too.
Read More: 4 UDFAs who could actually make 49ers’ 53-man roster
The same goes for another UDFA, center Dohnovan West out of Arizona State.
Needless to say, Poe will have to quite literally “shoot himself out of a cannon” during training camp and the preseason just to have a shot at the back end of the Niners’ 53-man roster, likely as a backup and someone who’d probably be inactive on game days.
That’d be the best-case scenario, in all reality.
What’s more likely, though, is Poe requiring a year’s development on the practice squad where he can hone his technique and become more refined a player, potentially towards being one of those hidden-gem finds San Francisco always seems to identify.
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