Undrafted 49ers Rookie Who ‘Possesses the Leadership’ Called 1 to Watch


Getty A 49ers helmet rests behind the bench during the Jaguars game on November 21, 2021.

The 2022 San Francisco 49ers draft class is a strong mix of intriguing talent who can play right away, with those newcomers set to showcase their talent at training camp in the SAP Performance Center in Santa Clara come July 26.

But some of the 49ers who weren’t drafted have been labeled as ones to watch too — including one lauded for his past leadership qualities.

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Jeremiah Gemmel Among Ones to Watch During 49ers Camp

Jennifer Lee Chan of NBC Sports Bay Area unveiled her list of six undrafted free agents who are worth keeping an eye on once the 49ers begin camp.

Among the names listed in her Thursday, June 30 feature? A veteran Atlantic Coast Conference linebacker praised for being a leader and being heavily involved in the tackles category at Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Jeremiah Gemmel.

“As a three-year starter and team captain at North Carolina, Gemmel possesses the leadership you look for from a player on and off the field,” Chan wrote. “The young linebacker was consistently involved in the defense, finishing second in tackles in both his junior and senior seasons.”

‘Quarterback of the Defense’ Also Delivered Breakout Game vs. First-Round Talent

Chan isn’t the only one who recognized the leader that Gemmel is. Even North Carolina called him “the quarterback of the defense.”

Gemmel ended his college career on the All-ACC Third Team — leading the Tar Heels in quarterback hurries with seven while producing 75 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, three pass breakups, one forced fumble and one interception.

And the one quarterback he sacked in 2021? The first quarterback taken in the 2022 NFL draft Kenny Pickett, which is highlighted in the second play of this reel:

That November 11, 2021 contest versus Pickett’s Pittsburgh Panthers was among Gemmel’s high-effort games of the season. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder produced a season-best 11 tackles, the sack, one pass breakup and snatched his only interception on Pickett himself. The 30-23 loss to Pitt was one of two games that witnessed Gemmel hit double-digits in tackles.

Gemmel’s Scouting Report & What He’s Walking Into

Despite his huge evening versus Pickett and company, plus earning season-ending accolades in a Power 5 conference, how did Gemmel slip out of the draft?

Lance Zierlein of nfl.com evaluated Gemmel as a “average backup or special teamer” in his draft profile. Zierlein described Gemmel as one who would get coaches fawning over him.

“Gemmel is jam-packed with a treasure chest of intangibles that coaching staffs will love,” Zierlein wrote. “He plays instinctive, fast football with an impressive regulator to alter speeds and maintain tackle-ready positioning. There are elements of his game that stand out, but the body of work is more solid than spectacular.”

But then Zierlein dove into one telling flaw that could prevent him from dominating at the line of scrimmage.

“He is undersized and could struggle with taking on NFL blockers,” Zierlein explained. “But his football IQ and range could make him an intriguing run-and-chase 4-3 Will linebacker with special teams potential.”

Gemmel may not be a household name in this NFL rookie class. He’s also likely going to receive the “longshot” label for being undrafted out of North Carolina. But Chan believes that the Ex-Tar Heel is walking into a good situation as he’ll enter a LB room featuring speed and one All-Pro.

“Gemmel will now learn from the best in the business in Fred Warner and Johnny Holland. He’ll have plenty of opportunities to show what he can do during training camp and beyond.”

Jeremiah Gemmel 2021 Regular Season Highlights | UNC LBJeremiah Gemmel has been a huge part of the North Carolina Tar Heels' defense and certainly proved his worth during the 2021 season. The senior linebacker finished the season with 73 total tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and 3 pass break-ups. Gemmel was always around the ball, and…2022-01-18T20:47:34Z
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