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San Francisco 49ers: Draft Grades and Recap

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During the NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers built up assets to help construct the future of their franchise.

Round 1, Selection 2

Nick Bosa, Defensive End, Ohio State

Grade: A+

He was the best player in the draft. The team that took the player in contention for the position, the Jets, said they would have taken Bosa if he was still on the board. He produced Pro Football Focus’s highest-rated grade for any defensive college player in a season (93.1), and his tape only nails down his dominance. Like his brother Joey, Nick is a technician with his hands, far beyond that of any prospect coming out. His get-off from the snap and the quick “eat” of yards he devours with his steps, not to mention his overall strength to bull rush and dominate opposing tackles. You can’t give a lower grade than perfect grade when, relative to the situation, they got the best possible solution.

Round 2, Selection 36

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Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver, South Carolina

Grade: A

During the Senior Bowl, Kyle Shanahan fell for Deebo. His playing style is reminiscent of Kyle’s two favorite receivers, Anquan Boldin and Pierre Garcon. Both were fearless over the middle and violent after the catch; their ability to separate off the line with a quick burst gave cornerbacks fits. Deebo Samuel is one of the same types of guys, and he aims to play just like his heroes. But Deebo has one skill both Garcon and Boldin didn’t possess, which is pure speed. Samuel can catch a pass and take it to the house at any point, averaging a whopping 31-yard average on slant routes at South Carolina along with posting a 4.48 40-yard dash at the 2019 combine. Deebo fits perfectly into what Kyle Shanahan wants, and frankly needs, to make his offense tick.

Round 3, Selection 67

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Jalen Hurd, Wide Receiver, Baylor

Grade: B

This pick surprised many people for multiple reasons. First, Jalen Hurd was a projected fifth-round pick, and second, Hurd had only played wide receiver for one year at Baylor, as he was previously a highly touted running back out of high school who put in considerable work for the University of Tennessee. But Hurd is easily the most intriguing draft pick by the Niners this year. As Shanahan noted, he has “never drafted a player as versatile as Hurd.” He’s right. Shanahan will line him up at all three wide receiver positions, occasionally in the backfield and even more occasionally at “move tight end” (think more Jimmy Graham or Travis Kelce), simply because he can play all of those positions at a high level.

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Round 4, Selection 110

Mitch Wishnowsky, Punter, Utah 

Grade: C-

It’s just hard to justify taking a punter in the fourth round. Sure, his pro day was impressive and the front office views him as a weapon, but, come on, he’s a punter. Quality players were still on the board with certain positional value to your team. The perspective is probably this: the front office views him as a blue chip prospect, a player that will contribute and provide for the team considerably for the next five-plus, years. In that vein, it’s partially justifiable, but again, he’s a punter.

Round 5, Selection 148

Dre Greenlaw, Linebacker, Arkansas

Grade: B-

Greenlaw ran a subpar 40-yard dash during the combine (4.73) but don’t let that fool you, as he plays much faster on tape. While Greenlaw lacks the ability to effectively shed blocks, he has good instincts to diagnose the position of the ball and is an underrated coverage linebacker. Greenlaw should challenge for depth at this point in his career but he has intriguing traits that could be developed as his time in the league matures.

Round 6, Selection 176

Kaden Smith, Tight End, Stanford University

Grade: B

Kaden Smith may have turned up the temperature on Garrett Celek’s seat. Although he ran an abysmal 4.92 40-yard dash (it shows on tape),  Smith exhibits the ability to exploit soft spots in zone coverage and toughness to reel in contested catches. He boxes out defenders well and uses his frame to rip the ball out of the air and into his body. He provides a significant red-zone weapon for Shanahan and could see significant playing time during the regular season.

Round 6, Selection 183

Justin Skule, Tackle, Vanderbilt

Grade: C

The hope here is that Shanahan and Co. can develop Skule into a usable swing tackle. Skule has the right measurables at 6-foot-7 and 317 pounds to become a good project for development. After starting 40 games the front office believes it has a good grasp of exactly what the player is, what he isn’t, and what kind of development can but put in place to help him realize his ceiling.

Round 6, Selection 198

Tim Harris, Cornerback, Virginia

Grade: B

PFF ranked Harris the 11th best coverage corner in the draft. It’s a great value pick considering his 4.3 40-yard dash and 6-foot-2 frame. Harris is a player that fits the scheme the 49ers’ defense plays. At Virginia he played predominantly press-man coverage, keeping the receiver in front of him and driving when the ball was thrown his way, possessing good tackling ability and an eye for the ball. If most of his college career wasn’t as injury-riddled as it turned out to be, Harris probably would’ve heard his name called much sooner. He’ll be an interesting piece to the collection of mid- to late-round corners the 49ers have acquired over the past few years.

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