It was something of a miracle that offensive lineman Jason Poe even landed a UDFA deal with the 49ers. His college, Mercer has zero players in the NFL. Their last alum to play in the NFL was Wesley Duke in 2005, and he only played basketball for the school since they didn’t have a football program then.
Poe’s miracle began well before that though, and his climb from square one to the NFL was terrifically detailed by Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle.
While plenty of players have stories of overcoming adversity to make it to the NFL, Poe’s story begins somewhere just south of rock bottom.
“Jason got to us as a ninth-grader at Fitzgerald and was literally one of the worst football players that I’ve ever seen,” Poe’s high school coach Jason Strickland told Branch. “It was just horrendous, horrendous. And we thought the kid was really going to wind up getting hurt. We tried to convince him to just be a manager because he was so bad. We thought he’d be more valuable to us as a manager. But he wanted to play. And he stuck it out. ”
There was plenty more adversity between Poe being told not to play as a freshman and him signing with San Francisco, but what stands in front of him may just be his biggest obstacle yet.
Poe joins a 49ers club that is ready to contend for a Super Bowl. They have open starting jobs on the offensive line, but they also have a slew of draft picks and last year’s starting right guard Daniel Brunskill ahead of him on the depth chart.
On top of that, he may need to change positions to either center or fullback to stick around with the club.
The good news for the obstacle-smashing offensive lineman is he’s been through the mud on and off the field. He’s done nothing but overcome odds since his freshman year of high school, and the 49ers will give him plenty of doors to kick down whether it’s at guard, center or as an eventual replacement for fullback Kyle Juszczyk.
It’s not going to be easy for Poe to beat the odds and make the 49ers’ roster, but it should surprise exactly nobody if he’s somehow making an impact in the next couple seasons.