San Francisco 49ers 2021 NFL Draft Recapby Celeste Sabin May 6, 2021 0 comments
The San Francisco 49ers went from Super Bowl Contenders in 2019 to a 6-10 season and last place in the NFC West in 2020. The team faced an onslaught of injuries from the get-go and ended the season with a league-high 18 players on the injured reserve. The 49ers not only had to contend with injuries but an altered COVID-19 schedule as well, playing the rest of their “home” games at the University of Phoenix in Arizona.
Kyle Shanahan’s squad came into the 2021 NFL Draft needing a quarterback and adding potential long-term talent on both sides of the ball. The 49ers had two trades in the draft, the first coming when they traded the Las Vegas Raiders the 48th and 121st picks for pick numbers 43 and 230. The 49ers then ended up trading the 121st pick along with the 117th to the Los Angeles Rams for the 88th pick.
Make sure to check out all of our 2021 NFL Draft Team Recaps.
Best Pick: Trey Lance (Round 1, Pick 3)
The quarterback from North Dakota State University has the potential to be the team’s franchise quarterback, which they are in desperate need of. San Francisco has stated that they don’t have any intentions to trade quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, the team does not want a repeat of last year with quarterback injuries.
Lance only played one game in 2020 because of COVID-19 but was still projected to be a top-five draft pick. In 2019 he put 2,786 yards on the book with 28 touchdowns and set the NCAA record for the most passes thrown in a season with zero interceptions. That season, Lance won both the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision, and the Jerry Rice Award. He led his team to and undefeated 16-win season, including the FCS championship title.
For more on Lance, check out our scouting report here.
Worst Pick: Ambry Thomas (Round 3, Pick 102)
The NCAA gave all of its football players the opportunity to opt-out of the 2020 season and not lose a season of eligibility due to the pandemic. Thomas chose to take this route and did not see the football field at all in 2020, but he was a starter in every game in 2019.
His collegiate career with the Michigan Wolverines ended with 54 total tackles, 42 of them solo, and three-and-a-half tackles for loss. He racked up four interceptions and three pass deflections, while forcing one fumble and recovering five. Thomas is by no means a bad pick, but he will have to show flexibility and learn his team’s playbook.
For more on Thomas, check out our scouting report here.
Sleeper Pick: Talanoa Hufanga (Round 5, Pick 180)
Hufanga spent three years at the University of Southern California and started 21 of the 24 games he played in with the Trojans. During this time he had 203 total tackles with 16.5 tackles for loss. The Corvallis, OR native added 12 pass deflections, six-and-a-half sacks, four interceptions, and four forced fumbles.
Coverage is one of Hufanga’s weaknesses, but he is fast enough to run with opponents in coverage. He will play strong safety (long-term, the 49ers hope), and will also likely have a spot on special teams. He is a solid addition to the San Francisco defense.
For more on Hufanga, check out our scouting report here.
The 49ers did not have a mediocre 2020 season because they were lacking talent. Instead, it was because the most talented players on the roster were injured for a portion of or the entire season. The veteran players can take this draft class under their collective wings and help them transition into the next level of play. San Francisco will be a force to be reckoned with if they can keep their roster healthy.
Overall Grade: A