How 49ers discovered exciting, undrafted back Mason originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Jordan Mason’s college career got off to a strong start.
Then, Georgia Tech landed the fifth-highest rated recruit in school history and the nation’s No. 2 all-purpose back coming out of high school for the 2020 college season.
Mason, also known as J.P., who scored 14 touchdowns in his first two college seasons, rushed for 899 yards as a sophomore.
In his final two seasons at Georgia Tech, his playing time diminished and he gained a total of 791 yards and three touchdowns.
“If you look back at it, they brought in Jahmyr Gibbs and, hey, he’s a player,” Mason said. “They had to play him. We had to share the carries.”
Gibbs was as good as advertised — a dynamic runner and pass-catcher who rushed for 746 yards and caught 35 passes for 465 yards last season. Gibbs transferred to Alabama this season and is viewed as a potential first-round draft pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
Mason (5-foot-11, 223 pounds) seemed to disappear as a draft prospect. He was not invited to the NFL Scouting Combine or any of the all-star games.
However, the 49ers found him.
Assistant general manager Adam Peters credits area scout Warren Ball, who crosschecks the draft-eligible running backs.
“He dug him out, just watching a ton of tape and said, ‘I really like this guy,’” Peters said. “I remember he sent me a (video) cut-up like four days before the draft, ‘Watch this guy.’”
Peters watched Mason, then 49ers running back coach Anthony Lynn was looped in to provide another opinion. The 49ers targeted Mason as an undrafted free agent. Mason said he thought the team’s outside zone system would enable him to showcase his skillset.
“We thought he was right up there with everybody,” Peters said. “So kudos to Warren for finding him and, obviously, I think he's been a great fit for us.”
Mason led the 49ers in rushing during the preseason and earned a spot on the 53-man roster over Trey Sermon, a third-round pick of the 2021 draft. Mason joins Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Ty Davis-Price on the team's depth chart.
“We're very encouraged and we think that he's really going to be a good football player for us,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said. “He runs in our style. And ultimately, it came down to that.”