Jeffery Wilson went unselected in the recent NFL draft, but that doesn’t mean the former North Texas University running back won’t find a job in the NFL.
Wilson signed with the 49ers as a free agent, giving him a fighting chance to make the San Francisco roster.
With Jerick McKinnon and Matt Breida the only running backs sure to make the Niners’ Week 1 roster, Wilson will compete with Joe Williams, Raheem Mostert and Jeremy McNichols to make the team. At this point, the 49ers still want to see what Williams can do after losing last season to injury, so as a 2017 draft pick they’ll give him every opportunity. And Mostert contributed on special teams, so he has a leg up, too. But with a good offseason and some production this summer in exhibition games, Wilson could win a job.
Judging by his production in college, he has a good one to make.
Wilson ran for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last season – even while missing three games with a foot injury – and caught 24 passes for 168 yards. The 6-foot, 207-pounder also rushed for 936 yards in 2016 and 830 in 2015, while catching 70 passes in his career at North Texas.
As Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee noted, 49ers coach Bobby Turner worked out Wilson in the weeks leading up to the draft and stayed in touch with him throughout the process. Wrote Barrows: “After Breida, there is room to make the squad.”
Certainly, Wilson fits the versatile mold Kyle Shanahan likes in his running backs, with his ability as a receiver.
Wilson was an under-the-radar prospect, despite his production. Since 1995, only two North Texas players have been drafted, so Wilson knew going into the three-day NFL draft last week that being selected would be a long shot. But, he believes he can play in the NFL and he can show that North Texas is a good program.
“We have a lot of talent, but we’ve been overlooked,” Wilson told the Dallas Morning News. “I feel we can compete with anybody. For me to get drafted would put everybody here on the map. Now people know there are people who can play football at North Texas – and play with the best of them.”