Every week leading up to the start of training camp, 49ers.com will assess groups on the roster as we get closer to the season. To kick things off, we'll begin with the rookie class and the group's outlook for 2023.
Rookie Class Outlook
The San Francisco 49ers will enter training camp with 19 total rookies. Nine of the 19 were drafted in April and the other 10 are undrafted free agents. At the end of the 2023 NFL Draft, league experts set high expectations on the rookies, despite the 49ers not making a selection in the draft until late in the third round. Many of the young players joining the team fulfill general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan's offseason goal of adding depth to an already talent-packed San Francisco roster. Throughout training camp, rookies will compete for a spot on the 49ers final 53-man roster out of the 90 players currently on the team.
Rookie Class Breakdown
A running back out of UTEP, Awatt is coming off a stellar senior year where he recorded a team-high 734 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 163 rushing attempts. Throughout his time at UTEP, Awatt rushed for 1,781 yards and 11 touchdowns on 369 attempts in 44 career games and added 17 receptions for 235 yards. In May, Awatt agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A defensive lineman out of the University of Georgia, Beal Jr. was the second of two fifth-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 54 games (10 starts) in six years at Georgia and registered 72 tackles, 12.0 tackles for loss, 10.5 sacks, two passes defended, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
"Beal's a really, really gifted athlete," Lynch said following this year's draft. "(University of Georgia head coach Kirby Smart) said someone's going to get a really gifted and talented player if they just let this guy go hunt QBs and set edges, and when he said that, that's exactly what we do... He ran a 4.47 (40-yard dash), so he adds speed. He's in the 6'3" range but he's got 34 and 335-inch (arm length), so he's got that length you look for."
A wide receiver out of the University of Michigan, Bell was the third of three seventh-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 47 games (31 starts) in five years at Michigan and registered 145 receptions for 2,269 yards and nine touchdowns. During the 2022 season, Bell started all 14 games and set career highs with 62 receptions for 889 yards and four touchdowns, earning Third-Team All-Big Ten honors.
"He was just so consistent," Shanahan said. "A special teams player and a good returner. He did really everything they asked. He was very good in his routes. There was not one thing that he struggled with. When you can put him into a group, and whatever his skill set is, I think he can fit into any position and he seemed like one of the more reliable wideouts that we watched in all of college football. We want guys to be good over time and I feel like he's a guy who has been as good of a football player as there is in college. We have to see how he adjusts at this level, but if he can play at this level the way that he did in college, we're going to have a really good football player."
A safety out of Penn State, Brown was the first of three third-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 35 games (26 starts) in three years at Penn State and registered 153 tackles, 19 passes defended, 10 interceptions, nine tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries after transferring from Lackawanna Community College where he spent two seasons (2018-19). In 2022, Brown started in all 13 games, earning Third-Team All-Big Ten honors for the second-consecutive season.
"He's a baller," Lynch said. "He's got the components of what I think makes up a Niner. We had a consensus, from coaches to scouts, it was all around the building. He really solidified that with this tape but then he came here on a 30 visit and he's just got this infectious personality... He plays fast. He's good up towards the ball. Ball production, 10 interceptions over the last couple of years. He's just a really good football player and then when you add the person, he's a team captain, like (defensive coordinator) Steve Wilks said, 'that's my dude right there.' Everybody in the building wanted that guy... We are really happy to have Ji'Ayir Brown."
A fullback out of Oregon State, Colletto has appeared in 43 games (5 starts) and registered 110 carries for 401 yards and 22 touchdowns as well as four receptions for 37 yards and one touchdown after spending his freshman year at Arizona Western College (2017). Colletto also spent time at quarterback and linebacker at Oregon State, completing 25 of 50 passing attempts for 254 yards and also recorded 51 tackles, two passes defended, two fumble recoveries, 1.5 tackles for loss, one interception and one fumble recovery. In May, Colletto agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
An offensive lineman out of Shepherd, Fisher started all 43 games he appeared in throughout his four-year college career. In 2022, he was named a DII All-American, helping block for an offense that produced 489.3 yards per game, including 312.5 passing yards per game, receiving First-Team All-PSAC East honors for the second-consecutive season. In May, Fisher agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A linebacker out of Purdue, Graham was the last of three seventh-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 38 games (35 starts) in four years (2019-22) at Purdue and registered 169 tackles, 16 passes defended, 12.5 tackles for loss, three interceptions, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and 2.0 sacks. In his senior year (2022), Graham earned All-Big Ten honorable mention after starting in nine games and notching 52 tackles, six passes defended, five tackles for loss, 1.0 sack, one interception and one forced fumble.
A cornerback out of the University of Texas, Jamison has appeared in 60 games (40 starts) and tallied 139 tackles, 23 passes defended, six interceptions, six tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries, 1.0 sack and one forced fumble. Jamison also spent time as a kick and punt returner, rushing back 54 kicks for 1,435 yards and two touchdowns and 44 punts for 368 yards and one touchdown. In May, Jamison agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A running back out of Marshall, Laborn appeared in 13 games during the 2022 season and registered 302 carries for 1,513 yards and 16 touchdowns along with 16 receptions for 116 yards after transferring from Florida State (2017-19). In 2019 as a junior, he appeared in 10 games and registered 63 carries for 297 yards and four touchdowns to go along with 10 receptions for 66 yards. In May, Laborn agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A tight end out of the University of Alabama, Latu was the third of three third-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 51 games (26 starts) in five years at Alabama and registered 56 receptions for 787 yards and 12 touchdowns.
"He's a versatile player in that he's good in both the run and the pass, but he went to 'Bama as a linebacker and I think he plays like that," Lynch said. "He's an aggressive player, he's a competitive player when you're watching film with him, his recall is really good... We liked the skill set and we liked the mentality."
An offensive lineman out of the University of Washington, Luciano appeared in 35 games (13 starts) in four years for the Huskies after transferring from Diablo Valley College (2017-18). In 2022, he received Third-Team All-Pac 12 honors after starting all 13 games at center. In May, Luciano agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A cornerback out of South Alabama, Luter Jr. was the first of two fifth-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 36 games in three years (2020-22) at South Alabama and registered 86 tackles, 16 passes defended, five interceptions and one forced fumble after transferring from Pearl River Community College where he appeared in 18 games in two seasons (2018-19) and recorded 27 tackles, 14 passes defended and three interceptions.
An offensive lineman out of Hawaii, Manning appeared in 62 games (60 starts) during his five-year college career. In 2022, received First-Team All-Mountain West honors after starting all 13 games. In May, Manning agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A kicker out of the University of Michigan, Moody was the second of three third-round draft picks selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 60 games in five years (2018-22) at Michigan and converted 69-of-84 field goal attempts (82.1%) as well as all 148 of his PATs for 355 total points. Moody set Michigan records in games played (60) and points (355) and also earned Second-Team All-American honors and First-Team All-Big Ten honors following the 2022 season.
"We felt like we got the best kicker in the draft," Shanahan said.
A linebacker out of Minnesota, Sori-Marin appeared in 58 games (40 starts) and registered 274 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes defended, three forced fumbles, 1.5 sacks and one interception. Following the 2022 season, he earned Third-Team All-Big honors. In May, Sori-Marin agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A defensive lineman out of North Dakota State, Waege appeared in 57 games (29 starts) and registered 138 tackles, 42.0 tackles for loss, 20.5 sacks, five forced fumbles, four passes defended and one fumble recovery. Following the 2022 season, he earned FCS First-Team All-American honors and First-Team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors. In May, Waege agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A tight end out of the University of Oklahoma, Willis was the first of three seventh-round draft picks (247th overall) selected by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 58 games (25 starts) in five years (2018-22) at Oklahoma and registered 75 receptions for 998 yards and 13 touchdowns. In 2022, he started all 13 games and set career highs with 39 receptions for 514 yards and seven touchdowns, earning Second-Team All-Big 12 honors.
"We had him ranked really high," Lynch said. "He's got a lot of versatility to his game. He's a guy who kind of embodies what we like in terms of, after the ball is in his hands, he can do some special things. He can play some tight end, play some fullback. He is a nice tool to move around and made a lot of big plays for Oklahoma. He's a former quarterback and real smart, cerebral kid. You can put a lot on him. When he was still there it just made sense for us."
A wide receiver out of East Carolina, Winstead appeared in 13 games and registered 88 receptions for 1,085 yards and six touchdowns during the 2022 season, earning an All-American Athletic Conference honorable mention. Winstead also spent time at the University of Toledo (2019-21) and Norfolk State University (2017-18). In May, Winstead agreed to terms with the 49ers to become an undrafted free agent.
A linebacker out of Texas Christian University, Winters was selected in the sixth round by the 49ers in this year's NFL Draft. He appeared in 48 games (39 starts) in four years (2019-22) at TCU and registered 246 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss, 12.5 sacks, 10 passes defended, three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. As a senior in 2022, he started all 15 games and set career highs with 79 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss and 7.5 sacks, earning First-Team All-Big 12 honors.
"(Linebackers coach) Johnny Holland was a huge Dee Winters fan," Lynch said. "We trust Johnny's eye a lot. Our scouts like Dee Winters a lot... Dee kind of fits who we are. He is a player who drew some comparisons. Comparisons are dangerous because you have to go do it, but he has similar traits to Dre Greenlaw. A similar suddenness to his game... He's another captain and the unequivocal leader for that defense and the voice of that defense. That carried weight as well, and ultimately, we felt like Dee was just a guy we needed to bring in. We're really excited to take him."