Niners sign Harris and 12 undrafted rookies

The 49ers today signed veteran outside linebacker Marques Harris, an unrestricted free agent who played his first four seasons with the Chargers. The club also announced the signings of 12 undrafted free agents.

Harris, 27, signed a one-year contract with the 49ers. He supplies depth for the 49ers. The club’s backup outside linebackers, behind starters Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson, are Jay Moore and Ahmad Brooks, neither of whom played last season. Harris was credited with 28 tackles with 2.5 sacks while starting three of the 15 games in which he appeared for the Chargers. Obviously, 49ers defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is familiar with him, as they spent two years together with the Chargers when Manusky was linebackers coach.


And, finally, here is the official list of players the 49ers signed as undrafted free agents:


Kirby Freeman, QB, 6-3, 206, Baylor

Freeman transferred from Miami, where he spent his first three college seasons. In his senior year at Baylor, he played in three games with one start and threw for 49 yards and a touchdown. He earned his degree in sports administration from Miami before transferring to Baylor. He made seven starts in his Miami career. He was not rated by NFLdraftscout, and Mel Kiper had him as the 77th-rated QB prospect.

His futureFreeman is the 49ers’ fifth quarterback behind Shaun Hill, Alex Smith, Damon Huard and Nate Davis. He’ll be kept around as long as the arm is needed.


Kory Sheets, RB, 5-11, 208, Purdue

The fastest running back at the combine with a 4.39 in the 40. He rushed for more than 3,300 yards in his career, along with 4,944 all-purpose yards. Sheets has breakaway speed, scoring 48 touchdowns in four seasons. He can also be a factor as a kickoff-return man. The 49ers brought Sheets in for a visit three weeks ago as part of their background check. Sheets reportedly had difficulty with the Purdue coaching staff, beginning with a brief benching in 2007 for a fumble problem. He made some critical comments after a loss to Northwestern, and was banned from speaking to the media for the remainder of the season. ranked him as the 11th-best running back – just one spot behind Glen Coffee. Mel Kiper Jr. ranked him No. 13.

His future – Sheets has a real chance to win a roster spot. His primary competition will be Thomas Clayton, the team’s leading rusher during the past two exhibition seasons. If Sheets proves his worth, it’s possible the 49ers could employ three backs, similar to what the N.Y. Giants had with Jacobs, Ward and Bradshaw.


Dobson Collins, WR, 6-1, 188, Gardner-Webb

He was honored as All-Big South Conference first team as a receiver and second-team as a return man. He had 76 receptions for 937 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was clocked at 4.47 in the spring of ’07. NFLdraftscout ranks him as the 53rd receiver, while Kiper has him 58th.

His future – With the depth the 49ers already have at this position, Collins is not going to make the 53-man roster. But he is now in a camp, and he has to take advantage of his limited opportunities to make an impression.


Alex Boone, OT, 6-7, 328, Ohio State

If Boone can get his act together, there might be a place for him in the NFL. He struggled against the speed-rushers of Florida and LSU in BCS title games. But the bigger concerns are off the field. In February, while in California training, police in Aliso Viejo allege Boone jumped up and down on the hoods of cars, attempted to smash the window of a tow truck and then fled police and had to be tasered twice in order to be subdued. He was arrested for DUI in 2006. But he was a two-time All-Big Ten performer, so with the right kind of support system with the 49ers, he has a chance. NFLdraftscout ranks him as the 21st-best offensive tackle. Kiper had him No. 14.

His future – This is a good spot for Boone. He projects to right tackle, and that’s what the 49ers might need. If he can get his act together, he’s got a chance.


Matt Huners, OG, 6-3, 303, South Florida

He was the Bulls’ best offensive lineman in 2006, but he tore his ACL in spring ball prior to his junior season. He managed to return to the lineup and won the Coaches’ Award for his speedy recovery. Although he graduated in the spring of 2008, he was academically ineliglble for the St. Petersburg Bowl against Memphis because he did not meet the requirement in post-graduate work. He played in every regular-season game in 2008 and was named second-team All-Big East. NFLdraftscout ranks him as the 48th guard, while Kiper has him 71st.

His future – The 49ers did not address the guard position in free agency or the draft. Huners will have to show some versatility to lock down a spot. With David Baas scheduled for free agency at the end of the season, perhaps they try to develop Huners for down the road.


Kyle Howard, OG, 6-6, 318, Wyoming

Three-year starter for the Cowboys. He started 40 games in his career, including all 13 as a senior: 12 at right guard and one at right tackle. He played right tackle earlier in his career. He can play tackle or guard. NFLdraftscout had him ranked as the 80th tackle, while Kiper had him ranked 59th tackle.

His future – He’ll get a chance to show what he can do and where he might fit in best. Obviously, it’ll be difficult for him to stick on the 53-man roster.


Pannel Egboh, DE, 6-6, 276, Stanford

Ended his career with 24 consecutive starts at defensive end. He recorded 8.5 tackles for loss, and six sacks as a junior, but his production dipped as a senior. He was a member of the National Honor Society. He has a 35-inch vertical leap. He seems to be a ‘tweener among ‘tweeners. The book is that he might lack bulk play DE in a 3-4, and he’s not necessarily an elite pass rusher. Kiper says he has enough measurables to allow an NFL defensive line coach to work with him. NFLdraftscout had him rated as the 16th-best defensive end. Kiper had him at No. 22.

His future – There are not a whole lot of spots on the line up for grabs. The team drafted Ricky Jean-Francois in the seventh round, but Egboh is more of a pass-rusher. His job is to make himself relevant to the team that is looking for a pass rush.


Khalif Mitchell, DT, 6-5, 318, East Carolina

Mitchell did not play football until his junior year of high school, so the game is still somewhat new to him. He has the frame that can handle a few more pounds. He transferred after beginning his college career at North Carolina. As a senior, he injured his back after seven starts and sat out the remainder of the season. He was invited to the combine, where he had 30 reps at 225 pounds. If he shows the willingness to work hard, he is a strong candidate for the 49ers’ practice squad.  NFLdraftscout ranks him No. 25 among D-tackles. Kiper has him at No. 18.

His future – What the 49ers need is a big nose tackle. It’s doubtful whether Mitchell will have a chance to win a spot on the 53-man roster, but – like most of these guys – the practice squad is within reach.


Diyral Briggs, OLB, 6-3, 242, Bowling Green

First-team All-Mid-American Conference selection in his junior and senior seasons. He started 27 of the 47 games during his college career. Briggs finished his career with 221 tackles, including 36 for loss and 26 sacks. His sack total ranks first in school history and eighth all-time in the MAC. He recorded 9.5 sacks as a senior. Was suspended for the team’s bowl game in 2007 for violating team rules. NFLdraftscout ranks him as the 41st-best outside linebacker. Kiper has him at 33rd.

His future – Everybody is looking for a pass-rusher. If Briggs impresses, the 49ers will consider keeping him on the practice squad.


Jahi Word-Daniels, CB, 6-0, 197, Georgia Tech

Word-Daniels is a tough cornerback who has good size, but his stock dropped because he missed half of his final season with a hamstring injury. Kiper says Word-Daniels is so aware and intuitive in coverage that he plays faster than he times. He ran a 4.59 and 4.64 at his pro day. He’s an interesting guy. He was Georgia Tech’s long snapper on punts and kicks for three years – an oddity for a cornerback. He has a lively personality. He proposed to his girlfriend in front on hundreds of Georgia Tech fans at the preseason fan day in August of 2007. NFLdraftscout rates him as the 39th cornerback. Kiper has him No. 24.

His future – He’s a big cornerback, and that gives him an advantage. If the 49ers see something worth developing, he would be a strong option of sticking on the practice squad.


Carlos Thomas, CB, 5-11, 186, South Carolina

Recorded six career interceptions for the Gamecocks. He was reportedly one of the fastest players on the team with a 4.37 in the 40, but he ran 4.51 and 4.57 during his pro day. He played wideout early in his career before making the transition to defense full time in 2006. NFLdraftscout ranks him as the 76th corner, while Kiper has him 81st.

His future – He’s in a similar situation as Word-Daniels. The 49ers have some cornerback and they might want to add another veteran before the start of the season. Right now, Nate Clements, Walt Harris, Shawntae Spencer, Tarell Brown and Marcus Hudson are ahead of the rookies on the depth chart.


Terrail Lambert, CB, 5-10, 190, Notre Dame

He had an impressive pro day, leading some to believe he might get drafted. Lambert ran 4.38 and 4.36 and also made a miraculous one-handed catch during a drill. He was a primary starter on defense for his final three years for the Irish. NFLdraftscout rated him as the 41st-best corner, while Kiper has him ranked 55th.

His future – The 49ers have some veterans on their roster who require an occasional day off. The 49ers want to bring in some undrafted guys to see what’s out there.


* * *


Brandon Long, a defensive end from Michigan State, did not appear on the list of players the 49ers have signed. He had reportedly agreed to terms. I’m checking on what’s going on with him.


UPDATE (7:41 p.m.): Long failed the physical (foot).


* * *

Comments are closed.