SANTA CLARA – The 49ers thought they convinced Elijah Lee to join their organization after he cleared waivers following the league-wide cutdown to the 53-man roster limit.
One week later, the 49ers finally succeeded in landing the rookie linebacker from Kansas State.
The 49ers used one of their 30 official pre-draft invitations on Lee, who they envisioned as a possible late-round draft pick. Instead, the Minnesota Vikings selected Lee in the seventh round.
But the 49ers did not give up on their hope of adding him to the organization. When Lee was among the Vikings’ final cuts after the final exhibition game, the 49ers made it a priority to sign him to their 10-player practice squad. The 49ers thought Lee was coming to Santa Clara, but the Vikings made one final pitch.
“They put on the full-court press,” Lee told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. “I met with (Vikings general manager) Rick Spielman. We had a good, long talk. I was going to come out here, but the Vikings were a little more convincing.”
Lee got away from the 49ers, which caused a ripple effect. The 49ers would have wanted linebacker Austin Calitro, an undrafted rookie from Villanova. But when the 49ers did not make an commitment to him, he signed with the Seattle Seahawks’ practice squad.
The 49ers ended up adding former Clemson star linebacker Ben Boulware to the practice squad. Boulware, who was in camp with the Carolina Panthers, was apprently deemed too short and too slow for the 49ers. The team released him from their practice squad on Tuesday.
Lee comes to the 49ers to help compensate for the loss of Reuben Foster, who could be out of action four to six weeks with a high right ankle sprain.
This time, the 49ers' offer was too good to refuse. A spot on the 53-man roster comes with a salary of more than $27,000 a week. Lee made $8,200 last week ($1,000 more than the practice squad minimum) with the Vikings.
He could be active to make his NFL debut on special teams Sunday against the Seahawks.
“It’s funny how it all worked out,” Lee said. “One week, I was actually about to come out here. Now, I am here.”