Canadian DL Jonathan Kongbo signs NFL contract with San Francisco 49ers

Canadian defensive lineman Jonathan Kongbo has signed a contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

Kongbo was released from a three-year contract with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in December to pursue NFL opportunities. The 23-year-old joins the 49ers who were the best team in the NFC with a 13-3 regular season record. Kongbo cannot suit up for San Francisco until the 2020 season.

He was chosen by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the first round, fifth overall during the 2019 CFL draft. That was after, surprisingly, Kongbo went unselected in the 2019 NFL draft and didn’t even sign an undrafted free agent contract or accept a rookie mini-camp invite.

Most Canadian franchises expected Kongbo to be in the NFL last season. But a torn ACL suffered during his senior season in the NCAA kept teams away. During his rookie CFL season, Kongbo recorded 12 tackles and one sack in 12 games.

Coming out of Holy Cross high school in B.C. as a three-sport athlete, Kongbo was highly touted in basketball and track along with football. He accepted a scholarship to the University of Wyoming, although he redshirted during the 2014 season and then transferred to Arizona Western college.

After gaining a reputation as the No. 1 junior college defensive line prospect while in Arizona, Kongbo received scholarships offers from Alabama, Oregon, Oklahoma, USC, Florida State, Washington, Ole Miss and Tennessee. The six-foot-six, 264-pounder chose the Volunteers.

Kongbo played 30 games – 17 starts – over three seasons with the Volunteers in the SEC (Southeastern conference) as a linebacker and defensive lineman amassing 51 tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, two interceptions including a 50-yarder returned for a touchdown and two knockdowns. He won the 2018 John Stucky award as Tennessee’s best performer in the weight room.

NFL teams covet Kongbo’s athleticism and it has earned him a shot.