The 49ers are happy with their 2021 rookie class, and understandably so. They drafted a franchise quarterback in Trey Lance at No. 3 overall, got a bulldozing guard in Aaron Banks and a violent runner in Trey Sermon.
While the draft class was a solid one, it's an undrafted free agent signing that probably caught the attention of Nick Bosa.
49ers assistant general manager and top scout Adam Peters told The Athletic's Matt Barrows that Bosa wanted the 49ers to find a way to bring his former Ohio State teammate Justin Hilliard on board.
“When we were interviewing (Hilliard) at the Senior Bowl, I took a photo and sent it to (Nick) Bosa and Bosa (responds), ‘You’ve got to get that guy!’ And we were able to do that," Peters told Barrows.
Hilliard, a six-year linebacker at Ohio State, was a top recruit coming out of high school in 2014. He was granted a sixth year of eligibility due to numerous injuries at the start of his Buckeyes career, and he made the most of his 2020 opportunity, totaling 33 tackles (five for loss), recovering three fumbles and intercepting one pass.
Questions about Hilliard's athleticism kept him from getting drafted, but he now will have a chance to blaze an NFL path with the 49ers.
Hilliard was one of five undrafted rookies who the 49ers signed Thursday on the eve of rookie minicamp. He'll face an uphill battle to make the 49ers roster, but he'll clearly have Bosa in his corner every step of the way.