Eighth round begins for 49ers

The 49ers began adding young college prospects to their nine-player draft haul Sunday evening when they signed their first rookie undrafted free agent, with more sure to follow in the next few days.

SFI has learned that the 49ers have signed former Middle Tennessee State defensive end Bobby Payne, who was not selected during draft weekend after leaving Middle Tennessee after his junior season.

The 6-foot-4, 286-pound prospect is one of 56 players who declared early for the draft this year.

Payne was on the verge of signing with the Dallas Cowboys earlier today after reportedly coming to terms with Dallas once the draft was completed. But Payne then decided to back out of that deal, perhaps because he felt he had a better opportunity to make the final roster with the 49ers this summer.

The 49ers are thin along their defensive line at end and are looking for backups to starters Bryant Young and Marques Douglas. San Francisco drafted former Louisiana State defensive end Melvin Oliver (6-3, 279) with its third sixth-round pick (the No. 197 overall) on Sunday, but the Niners currently have no other defensive ends on their roster besides first-year player Scott Scharff, who is playing in NFL Europe.

The 49ers did not announce any signings of undrafted rookie free agents Sunday, and coach Mike Nolan said the team did not plan to release any transactions in that regard until Monday at the earliest.

The 49ers - who in recent years brought in between 15 and 20 URFA prospects to compete for roster berths and provide training-camp depth - signed only a handful of those types last year, including Scharff and wide receiver/kick returner Fred Amey, who made the team's final 53-man roster and returned a punt 75 yards for a touchdown in San Francisco's season-opening victory over St. Louis.

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