The Reese’s Senior Bowl is a time for prospects to compete against some of the best competition in college football, whether they played at Humboldt State or Alabama. As important as it is for top players to meet with teams, it’s also an opportunity for lesser-known prospects to begin standing out.

The 49ers front office has surely created their big board and started stacking players against one another. Ultimately, entering the NFL draft with a clear-cut strategy and understanding needs is almost as important as who you select. The draft isn’t an isolated event, and forces teams to have forethought and contingency plans.

The goal of a big board is to keep track of the players as an isolated position-specific list while also to be able to evaluate on a player-versus-player basis. The 49ers know their needs and will have created position-specific frameworks to ensure that their evaluation department is identifying the correct talent. So, ahead of the most important week of evaluation before the scouting combine next month, we’ve created a potential 49ers Big Board.

It’s important to note that this isn’t a list of who are the best players at each position, but a list of who are the best while also fitting the 49ers needs and scheme. Fit within an organization is as much part of the evaluation process as raw traits are.

With that, let’s look at the prospects heading down to Mobile at critical positions for the 49ers moving forward.

Running Backs

Rashaad Penny (5-11, 220) | San Diego State  

Rushing for 2,248 yards in 2017 is fantastic whether he played at San Diego State or in the SEC. Penny is an NFL-caliber back that can use Mobile to show versatility as a three-down runner.

Akrum Wadley (5-11, 191) | Iowa

Wadley could be the Kareem Hunt of this year’s group and play himself into the starting role for a team as a rookie. He’s that good and just needs reps to prove himself.

(Matthew Holst/Getty Images)

Ito Smith (5-9, 193) | Southern Mississippi

Smith has a well-rounded skill set and is an impressive inside runner despite his size. He’s got balance and vision to be decisive in Shanahan’s outside zone scheme.

Royce Freeman (6-0, 238) | Oregon 

Freeman is a little heavier than Shanahan would prefer and is coming off a season where he missed some time due to injury.

Kalen Ballage (6-3, 230) | Arizona State 

Ballage is a big back that doesn’t have particularly great hands. He’s got light feet for someone his size and should be a Day 3 pick.

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