3 days and 256 picks later, the NFL draft has come to a close. Between Michael Sam’s emotional reaction to being the first openly gay player to be drafted and all the Johnny Manziel jokes, the draft was as good as we could have hoped for. The 49ers had a stockpile of picks in this years draft, and boy did they use them. San Francisco ended up drafting 12 players, and I’m going to give a brief overview of how they are going to have an impact on Coach Harbaugh’s team.
1st Pick: Jimmie Ward, DB Northern Illinois. While I had speculated that the 49ers would trade up in the first round and draft a high profile wide receiver, General Manager Trent Baalke decided to sit tight and wait to make his first selection until the 30th pick of the draft. A very quick and physical player, Ward will most likely compete for a position as the teams nickel corner in a very depleted 49ers secondary.
2nd Pick: Carlos Hyde, RB Ohio State. Carlos Hyde embodies every quality that the 49ers look for in each of their players: tough, high football IQ and looks to punch you in the mouth. Although running back is not a dire need for the 49ers, I can imagine Harbaugh salivating at the sight of Hyde being available to the 49ers in the second round. With the departure of Anthony Dixon and the uncertainty of LaMichael James’ place on the team, Hyde was a great pickup and could be great for goal line situations.
3rd Pick: Marcus Martin, C USC. The top center coming in the draft according to multiple experts, Martin has a good shot at becoming the 49ers starter day one. He would have to beat out Daniel Kilgore to be the one snapping the ball to Kap on game day, but Martin’s athleticism is rare for someone his size. Don’t be surprised to see him in the 49ers starting lineup in a year or two.
4th Pick: Chris Borland, LB Wisconsin. This kid is an absolute tackling machine. With the injury to NaVorro Bowman and the uncertainty surrounding Aldon Smith, it was a necessity for the 49ers to grab a linebacker in this draft. While some question his size and speed, Borland can flat out ball when out on the field. He will have some great mentors in Patrick Willis and Bowman as well to get him NFL ready.
5th Pick: Brandon Thomas, G Clemson. I absolutely LOVE this pick (yes, partially because he is from Clemson). Thomas could have been selected much higher than the end of the third round had he not torn his ACL a month ago, but the 49ers are not in dire need of a starter on their offensive line, so if Thomas red-shirts for a year or two before playing he could be the steal of the draft.
6th Pick: Bruce Ellington, WR South Carolina. 49er fans were finally able to feel content about this draft when the 49ers drafted Ellington on the third day. With an explosive 40 dash back at the combine and experience in the return game, Ellington can add that vertical threat that 49er fans have been begging for the entire offseason. We might not see more of him until a few years from now with Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree as the solidified starters, unless Ellington can sneak into the role of slot receiver.
7th Pick: Dontae Johnson, CB North Carolina State. Adding depth to the cornerback position was a necessity for the 49ers, and they did their duty grabbing as many talented corners as they could this draft. A very good athlete, but needs some work on his football skillsets. Not a problem for the 49ers coaches.
8th Pick: Aaron Lynch, LB South Florida. What the 49ers have done best is utilize what each player does best. In Lynch’s case, that would be getting after the quarterback. Expect to occasionally see him on third down situations disrupting the opposing signal caller.
9th Pick: Keith Reaser, CB Florida Atlantic. People said the 49ers needed to draft a corner. They certainly beat that to death by drafting a whole army of them. I guess they figure that at least one of these guys should last for the long term. Reaser fits the bill for what the 49ers are looking for with blazing speed, but don’t expect him to play until next year at the earliest.
10th Pick: Kenneth Acker, CB Southern Methodist. Another corner. 49ers lost a lot of them during free agency. They needed to get more in the draft. Can be a physical corner when the opposing offenses are in a spread formation. Let’s move on.
11th Pick: Kaleb Ramsey, DE Boston College. Justin Smith is not getting any younger, so this the 49ers looking toward the future. Ramsey could become a solid starter through a few years learning from the established veterans on the 49ers, but won’t find much playing time to begin his career.
12th Pick: Trey Millard, FB Oklahoma. The 49ers’ favorite thing to do is run the rock, and nothing makes a running back more ecstatic than to be able to run behind a big body whose one goal is to hit people for you. With the late injury to Bruce Miller last season, having depth at a position vital to the 49ers offense is not a bad idea.
Overall, I was pleased with how 49ers General Manager Trent Baalke handled this year’s draft. While a lot of fans wanted one of those big name players than went in the top 10 that would require the 49ers to trade up, Baalke sat tight and made solid selections from round 1 all the way to the end. While some fans may be frustrated because they wanted an all star first round wide receiver, they must remember that the 49ers boast one of, if not the most complete roster in football, so it’s not like there is any major problem that still needs to be addressed. If Baalke wanted someone bad enough, he would have made the moves to get him. I would say he and Harbaugh have not let us down the last three years and have earned my trust to make any moves they feel is best for the team, and that says a lot coming from someone as critical as me in regards to the 49ers.