Will the San Francisco 49ers be able to repeat their regular-season success from the 2022 season?
San Francisco ended last season with a record of 13-4 behind the stellar play of the team’s quarterbacks. QB Brock Purdy finished the season with 1,374 total passing yards and 13 touchdowns in the five games he suited up for. He helped guide San Francisco to two playoff wins before suffering an elbow injury in the final play of the 49ers’ first offensive series of the NFC Championship game.
The 49ers selected nine rookies in the 2023 NFL Draft, starting with Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown in the third round. San Francisco took Michigan kicker Jake Moody with its next pick in the third round. Alabama tight end Cameron Latu rounded out the team’s third round.
The Niners brought in 11 undrafted free agents following the draft, including Texas cornerback D’Shawn Jamison, Minnesota linebacker Mariano Sori-Marin and Rutgers safety Avery Young. Sori-Marin, a former 3-star recruit in the Golden Gophers’ 2018 recruiting class, took a spot on the coaches’ All-Big Ten Third Team and a media All-Big Ten Honorable Mention in 2022. Young earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mentions from both the coaches and the media in 2022.
Which undrafted free agents will find their way onto the final roster? And will they be enough to help push them back into a competitive spot next season?
C Corey Luciano
A competitive team can only be complete with a consistent presence in the trenches.
49ers guard Aaron Banks said a team’s success on offense runs through its offensive line in May 2021.
“I know that offensive linemen are at an all-time value,” Banks said, via Heavy Sports. “If you can’t protect your quarterback, you can’t really win games.
“I think that — I don’t know where else to go with that. I think that most teams need offensive linemen. We had a saying at Notre Dame, ‘The team goes as we go.’ By we, I mean the offensive line.”
A former 3-star JUCO recruit out of Diablo Valley College, Luciano initially committed to the Washington Huskies over offers from Maryland, Minnesota, Nebraska, Syracuse, USC, Marshall and Fresno State, according to 247Sports. He joined a 2019 recruiting class that featured 23 enrollees and now-Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Trent McDuffie.
Luciano started at center for all 13 games of the 2022 season, earning the Pac-12 Offensive Lineman of the Week after Washington’s 37-34 win over then-No. 6 Oregon in November. He was an All-Pac-12 Honorable Mention in 2022 for a Huskies squad that went 11-2 overall and 7-2 against conference opponents.
The Niners re-signed center Jake Brendel to a four-year contract through the 2026 season, the team announced in March. The 30-year-old out of UCLA played in 17 games for the Niners last season after playing in 16 the year before, providing consistency on a line that allowed 31 sacks during the 2022 season, good enough for sixth in the NFL. San Francisco’s offensive line helped pave the way for a rushing offense that racked up 2,360 rushing yards, good enough for seventh in the NFL ahead of the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and Carolina Panthers.
Luciano must compete with guard Jon Feliciano and center Keith Ismael for the backup spot behind Brendel. Still, his Washington experience could give him a fighting chance at breaking into the final roster. The 49ers could also try their hand with Hawaii lineman Ilm Manning or Joey Fisher out of Shepherd if need be.
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