From assistant general manager Adam Peters to returning director of player personnel Ran Carthon, the San Francisco 49ers have 21 representatives inside their “personnel and scouting” room for the upcoming season.
While the 49ers will soon return to Santa Clara later this July — July 26 at the SAP Performance Facility — for 2022 training camp, most of the members of that personnel group are likely going to be visiting other places during another season: College football season.
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Even though there’s that crowd of NFL fans who believe that it’s way too early to be thinking about the 2023 NFL Draft, the fact is that members of NFL scouting departments everywhere also use the training camp time to take visits to CFB fall camp practices to gain an early idea on who’s worth watching and monitoring for the season.
And in the case of Pro Football Focus and analyst Michael Renner, he already has a list of prospects worth watching for each team…including the 49ers.
Who is Renner thinking of who could fit in front of the “49ers’ faithful?” And what position group is Renner and PFF honing in on for the ‘Niners scouting department to scrutinize? He has the 49ers not traveling too far — and watching a place where they got one of their prized findings from the 2022 draft class.
‘Versatile & Elite’ Player Had Breakout 2021, Analyst Says
The player worth watching by PFF for the ‘Niners: Offensive lineman Andrew Vorhees out of USC.
That’s right, a guy who went against top ’22 pick for the 49ers Drake Jackson during practice. And a towering, massive and powerful lineman who has carved out quite the collegiate career himself in the “Land of Troy.”
While the 49ers are rolling out their 2022 plan of going with Aaron Banks as Laken Tomlinson’s replacement for left guard, Jake Brendel as the projected fill-in for the retired Alex Mack at center and Daniel Brunskill situated at right guard, Renner still believes the 49ers should monitor Jackson’s old college teammate closely during the upcoming college season.
“With no first-round pick to speak of, the 49ers will have to upgrade the interior of their offensive line in other ways,” Renner wrote. “The good news is that’s one position where Day 1 starters are commonplace outside the first round.”
The difference with Jackson is that he declared early for the draft. The 6-foot-6, 325-pound Vorhees has had an extensive stay due to battling a knee injury that required cartilage needing to be repaired following 2018 spring practice and dealing with the COVID year of 2020 — which granted players the permission to use a “super senior” season to make up for the truncated ’20 season.
Vorhees, though, is the “old man” of the Trojans line this fall — having appeared in 44 games and started at the following spots per the USC football website: 25 starts at right guard, eight at left guard and four at left tackle. And his 2021 work is considered his best yet.
“Vorhees should hit the ground NFL-ready as a sixth-year player and fifth-year starter. He had a breakout 2021, where he earned a 90.0 overall grade,” Renner said.
Vorhees Has Extensive Golden State Roots & From Same City of Ex-49ers QB
USC isn’t the only Californian place where Vorhees has thrived.
Before committing to the Trojans for their 2017 class, Vorhees starred at Kingsburg High School in Fresno County — establishing himself as a powerful trench standout who rose to the state’s No. 41 overall prospect by 247Sports. Vorhees was also in the same recruiting class as 2021 49ers draft pick Deommodore Lenoir.
But Lenoir isn’t the only 49ers connection. Vorhees dominated in the same city and high school where 2021 49ers practice squad quarterback Tyler Bray played.
Since then, Vorhees has put his mean streak on display at left guard:
And has shown to be a valuable guard option on pull and seal block plays like below:
Is Vorhees Projection Signifying Something Telling for the 49ers?
With Renner placing the Trojan’s name as a prospect to watch, it could signal one or two things.
One — Vorhees can be an option if Banks under-performs at left guard.
Two — perhaps most telling, Vorhees could be the future on the blindside as Trent Williams nears his mid-30s.
Obviously, it’s early speculation. But if the 49ers send scouts over to USC practices or the L.A. Memorial Coliseum this fall, Vorhees could become one prospect they eyeball closely.