San Francisco 49ers

49ers head to Senior Bowl where running backs abound

John Lynch, Martin Mayhew and the rest of the 49ers' personnel staff are in Mobile, Ala. this week for the Senior Bowl, which begins with a weigh-in on Monday.

Last year, the team selected two players who took part in the 2017 Senior Bowl -- quarterback C. J. Beathard and receiver Trent Taylor -- while two more Senior Bowl alums -- safety Lorenzo Jerome and linebacker Ben Boulware -- spent some time with the team as well. (The 49ers additionally had draft interest in pass rusher Tarell Basham and cornerback Rasul Douglas, both of whom were in Mobile last year.)

Some of the players who appear to fit needs as well profile in the upcoming week of Senior Bowl practices:

* Running back Rashaad Penny, San Diego State.

Kyle Shanahan is looking for one-cut-and-go runners, and Penny fits that description nicely. He ran for 2,248 yards last season, averaged 7.8 yards a carry and scored 23 touchdown. Penny failed to reach 100 yards in just two games and went over 200 yards in six contests. At 220 pounds, he'd bring some heft to a backfield that could be missing Carlos Hyde, a pending free agent, in 2018. Penny needs to work -- a lot -- on his pass blocking.

* Running back Akrum Wadley, Iowa

The 49ers likely got a head start on scouting Wadley after selecting two Hawkeyes in the 2017 draft. He's not as explosive as Penny, but has a nice combination of power, balance and speed. He also has caught 64 passes in the last two seasons. The upcoming draft is believed to be as deep at running back as last year's. Oregon's Royce Freeman, who pulled out of the Senior Bowl, is another senior option for the 49ers.

* Running back Jaylen Samuels, N.C. State

The Senior Bowl lists Samuels as a running back. Most publications in college had him as a tight end. The truth is that Samuels did a little of everything for the Wolfpack and will leave the school as its all-time leader in receptions (201). He also averaged 6.1 yards a carry at N.C. State. Though he never was considered the lead runner, at 228 pounds he has more heft than two similarly skilled players in last year’s draft, Christian McCaffrey and Curtis Samuel, and he likely will capture the attention of a creative coordinator like Shanahan.

* Wide receiver James Washington, Oklahoma State

This is not considered a great draft for wide receivers, but along with Alabama's Calvin Ridley and SMU's Courtland Sutton, Washington is believed to be the best of the group. (Ridley and Sutton are underclassmen). Washington is great on deep passes and is excellent after the catch, averaging 20.9 yards a reception on 74 catches last season. He's a bigger version of New England's Brandin Cooks.

* Offensive lineman Alex Cappa, Humboldt State

Cappa, who is from Dublin, Ca., is looking to become the first Humboldt State player drafted since New England took receiver Freeman Baysinger in the 12th round of the 1992 draft. (Baysinger would go on to play for the Sacramento Gold Miners of the expanded Canadian Football League). Cappa played tackle for the Lumberjacks but may be someone who could fill in at guard early in his career. All-star games like the Senior Bowl are great proving grounds for small-school players like Cappa. A Senior Bowl guard who could interest San Francisco is Virginia Tech's Wyatt Teller, who seems to have the agility and foot speed for Shanahan's zone-blocking offense.

* Tight end Dallas Goedert, South Dakota State

Goedert and Penn State's Mike Gasicki are considered the top tight ends in the draft and both will take part in the Senior Bowl. The position probably isn't high on the 49ers' to-do list as they continue with their roster rebuild. But Goedert has outstanding athleticism while Gasicki is listed at 6-6. Both would be nice red-zone targets for an offense that struggled in that area in 2017.

* Defensive end Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio

Two of the draft's top pass rushers, N.C. State's Bradley Chubb and Boston College's Harold Landry, will not take part in the Senior Bowl. Davenport is intriguing because he seems to have the explosiveness the 49ers are looking for at their "Leo" pass rusher position. Davenport had 17 1/2 tackles behind the line of scrimmage last year, albeit mostly against lower level competition. In that way, the Senior Bowl will be an excellent test. Oklahoma's Ogbonnia Okoronkwo (17 sacks combined the last two seasons) also is will be in Mobile.

* Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu, USC

Like Alabama's Rashaan Evans, who opted out of the Senior Bowl, Nwosu has played both inside and outside linebacker. While Evans probably is best suited inside, Nwosu's ideal spot in San Francisco's defense may be at strong-side linebacker, where he had 9 1/2 sacks for USC this past season. The 49ers will go into the 2018 offseason with Eli Harold, Dekoda Watson and 2017 sixth-round pick Pita Taumoepenu at that position.

Matt Barrows: @mattbarrows, read more about the team at