The San Francisco 49ers made the playoffs again and they fell just a bit short and a lucky Seattle play from making it again to the Super Bowl. Don’t fret, the 49ers are poised again to be a powerhouse team and look to better their 2013 record of 12-4. Colin Kaepernick is starting his third year in the NFL and we should see a very mature QB on the field. Michael Crabtree will be on the field starting game 1 which will be a significantly better start than last year where he started the season on the PUP list. The 49ers drafted 12 players that will solidify most positions on the field, create some competition for some veterans and start addressing their future need at RB when Frank Gore retires. San Fran needed to concentrate their draft at these core positions: WR, Center, DL and RB.
2014 NFL DRAFT PICK RECAP AND ANALYSIS
Jimmie Ward SS, Northern Illinois Round 1 Pick #30
Surprise pick by the 49ers. After drafting Eric Reid last year at Safety and signing free agent Antoine Bethea, the drafting of Jimmie Ward was kinda puzzling. All became clear when they announced that Ward will be playing nickel which is a twist because that is usually reserved for a Cornerback. Jimmie Ward is a talented Strong Safety. He is quick to break on the ball, recognizes run and commits downhill to the box. Hits hard and that may be his only issue, whether he can play an entire season without injury. Has great hands and that sudden burst of speed, he can turn a game instantly with an interception or jarring a ball loose with a hard hit. Great pick.
Carlos Hyde RB, Ohio State Round 2 Pick #25
Best projected running back in the draft was a victim of the devaluation of the running back value in today’s NFL. Frank Gore is turning 312 and playing out the final year of his contract so it makes total sense that Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers make this a priority this draft. Who knows how the pendulum swings in the NFL as far as what position is valued highly next year. Carlos Hyde definitely upgrades the position and creates an issue for last year’s 4th round flyer pick on Marcus Lattimore who is still recovering from a knee injury and now must worry if he even makes the roster. Carlos Hyde should have no problem becoming one of the premiere RBs in the league in the next few seasons. Great Pick.
Marcus Martin C, USC Round 3 Pick #6
San Francisco got their Center very quickly. I knew it was a huge priority and they didn’t waste any time. 6’3″ 320 ponds that will soon be playing at 340 when they get done bulking him up. Wide bodied player that epitomizes what a Center is and does. He is a huge obstacle to anyone blitzing up either side of the A gap and can also fill part of a B gap. Can take on two rushers at once and can also open holes for the running back. Needs some work on technique but has the basic attributes that can turn him into a huge asset to the offensive line and give Kaepernick the extra time he needs before the pocket collapses.
Chris Borland LB, Wisconsin Round 3 Pick #13
An undersized prototypical linebacker that everyone says is too slow to play and too small to play. Harbaugh has other thoughts on that and unwisely choose him with a third round pick. I personally felt, he could have waited on drafting Chris Borland went after a wide receiver here. His stature serves him poorly in the NFL and it shows with his inability to shed blocks. Needs work on tackling technique but he does bring that typical hard headed approach to football and works on a non stop motor. A “Rudy” type player that all said he couldn’t play football and he has. Good for him but he is a bust player with limited upside. Poor use of the draft pick.
Brandon Thomas T, Clemson Round 3 Pick #36
Two time tear of the same ACL flashes warning signs to most coaches. Not Jim Harbaugh, we walks to a different drummer. Projected originally in the 2nd round this could be a steal if he recovers and doesn’t get hampered by this recurring injury. The San Francisco 49ers are known to take risks in the draft as evidenced by the recent drafts of Marcus Lattimore and Tank Carradine. If he does recover from the ACL, then the 49ers found themselves an anchor player. He played OT in college, but San Francisco will surely have him transition to guard and there he will have a ton of upside.
Bruce Ellington WR, South Carolina Round 4 Pick #6
Cousin to Andre Ellington of the Arizona Cardinals, The San Francisco 49ers finally draft a wide receiver. A short 5’9″ 190 pound average speed receiver with inadequate strength for blocking or preventing a defender from re-routing him. Poor route runner and I am kinda amazed the 49ers think he can play, cause I don’t. He was a disappearing act in college, sometimes only contributing to one catch in a game. Does preach a good game and perceived as a hard worker, but I think it’s an illusion. He came out of college one year early and really needed that year to get his game to the next level. Bad pick and the 49ers didn’t do their due diligence on this guy.
Dontae Johnson CB, North Carolina State Round 4 Pick #29
San Francisco goes after a need position here and takes a 6’2″ 200 pound CB who can run. Will struggle against speedy wide receivers and plays more like a safety. We saw San Francisco pop on Jimmie Ward and they are transitioning him so maybe Dontae Johnson will be transitioned to a backup Safety role. This player fits into a lot of hybrid schemes due to his athleticism and the way he delivers a hit. Good pick by San Francisco and I can see Dontae Johnson playing special teams and work his way into a starting role which is not easy to do on a talented depth chart like the 49ers.
Aaron Lynch DE, South Florida Round 5 Pick #10
Highly suspect character issues make this a huge gamble. San Francisco is stacked with picks, so they take the leap of faith and hope this kid with problems grows up and they might have a very talented pass rusher. Has the natural ability but is lazy and unmotivated. Might have a learning disability and may abuse Adderall. Had a medical exclusion from the NFL Combine. If he doesn’t get his act together, start building a jail cell for him, because he is destined for prison.
Keith Reaser CB, Florida Atlantic Round 5 Pick #30
Another injured player that Harbaugh is gambling on. Strong for his size, putting up 22 reps at the NFL combine. Has quick feet and swivel hips and great footwork but it all is dependent on the graft of his tendon. The first one was rejected an this has become a serious issue. He was projected in the 7th round so it confused me why the 49ers popped on him so early. For my taste , they consistently overvalue guys coming off injury. Not a good use of this pick.
Kenneth Acker CB, Southern Methodist Round 6 Pick #4
Getting a bit silly taking all these CBs. But finally, the 49ers get a guy that I think has the skill. Good size, decent speed and good football intelligence as a base but needs work on press coverage and transitioning into man cover. Needs some help tackling and will get the coaching that can make this pick a good upside vs. cost draft pick.
Kaleb Ramsey DE, Boston College Round 7 Pick #28
6’3″ 290 pound DE that transitioned from Tight End in college. I think Harbaugh is pulling a fast one here and is gonna transition him to a dual threat on offense and defense. He would be an instant threat in the seam and in the red zone and his size would dictate an above average blocking tight end. Good pick by the 49ers with the outside the box thinking I can smell a mile away.
Trey Millard FB, Oklahoma Round 7 Pick #30
6’2″ 245 lb Tank. Runs low to the ground, squares shoulders and drives the defender backwards. Unfortunately, he is another guy coming off injury. So I stop here analyzing.
Overall Team Draft Day Analysis
San Francisco had a decent draft. They squandered a lot of picks and it seems they got distracted or dragged away from their plan. Jimmie Ward and Carlos Hyde, Marcus Martin, and Kaleb Ramsey were the highlights of the draft for me. Unfortunately, I can’t explain why the 49ers reached for some of these guys, especially so many guys coming off injury. I think they got fat and stupid having so many picks and didn’t monetize each one to its full potential. They still in my opinion haven’t gotten enough talent or depth in the wide receiver position and one injury can turn their season into a disaster and make them one dimensional as we saw sometimes last year.
Draft Grade: C+
Propensity for injured players downgrade the grade here. Kinda shocked the 49ers didn’t do better than they did. This draft will be looked back one day and people will be highly critical.
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