In fact, it’s an undrafted rookie, Jason Poe, who has become a rising star on the 49ers‘ roster. And it’s Williams who is supplying much of the talk.
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‘Strong as an Ox’
Williams, an All-Pro last season and a nine-time Pro Bowler, raved to the Bay Area media on August 23 about Poe’s progression and his poise, comparing him to two members of the animal kingdom.
“He always looked like he belonged,” Williams told reporters. “The confidence he plays with … with his attributes — the low center of gravity, his natural leverage — and he’s strong as an ox and he’s quick as a cat. So having those attributes, to me, I would assume he knows he belongs.”
Williams said he was perplexed by how big Poe really is. He’s listed at 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds and Williams said he has seen how Poe uses that size to his advantage.
“He could be 6-3. Who knows?” Williams said. “He could be 5-11, we don’t know. But that naturally gives him leverage.”
Williams added how Poe’s foot speed is “not common” for a 300-pound interior offensive lineman.
“But he’s explosive. He’s a very quick guy. Even if you get him, he always has a chance to recover, which is not common coming from an offensive guard position,” Williams said. “Usually, those guys don’t have a lot of room to recover when they do have a chance to recover. But you just never really see that type of athleticism coming from the guard position. And I think that’s why he’s been successful.”
Poe’s Quickness on Display
Former offensive lineman Brad Graham noted Poe’s quickness in the 49ers’ August 20 win over the Minnesota Vikings, describing how Poe was able to recover after appearing to be out of position against a defensive tackle.
“49ers OG Jason Poe is so quick footed that he can be out of position & just as quickly get back to where he needs to be,” Graham tweeted on August 23.
Graham tweeted another game clip that would excite fans of trench play: Poe is seen not only sprinting to his right on a pull block but also destroying 6-foot-5, 258-pound defensive end Janarius Robinson, a second-year player out of Florida State.
“It’s really hard not to get excited about 49ers UDFA Jason Poe,” Graham tweeted, referring to the attached video. “This play exemplifies his natural ability as a puller by obliterating the DE who was 100% expecting the contact and Poe still put him on his back. 6’5″ vs 6’1.”
Williams reminded fans that his new teammate still had work to do.
“There’s still a long way to go,” Williams said. “It’s just the first training camp. There’s so much he hasn’t seen yet. But he is definitely ahead of the curve, definitely playing a lot better than anybody could imagine being where he came from and the type of football he played last year. For him to be blocking Javon Kinlaw and guys like that, coming from Mercer — and I don’t know his university or whatever it is, but coming from Mercer — I’m pretty sure he didn’t see too many guys who looked like [Kinlaw] or [Arik Armstead]. So the fact he even comes out here and he’s able to put his best foot forward every day and continue to get better, I think that says a lot about him.”
Poe is an undrafted product from a small school, Mercer University, in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision, so he likely never went up against players the size of Robinson or Williams, who went to major schools Florida State and Oklahoma, respectively. Still, Williams is convinced Poe has his best days ahead of him in S.F.
“I definitely see it in his athleticism, his strength,” Williams said. “I’ve seen it this offseason. I’ve seen his work ethic. He has what they call “that dog” in him — that stuff you can’t teach. I think if he continues to stay on the track he’s on, I think he’s going to be a good player in this league for a long time and a good player for this franchise.”