San Francisco 49ers 2017 NFL Draft Recap
Good day people of the football world,
John Lynch had one hell of a first draft as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers. Just like his playing days, he was aggressive and not afraid to make a bold move that could change the game. The former safety indeed set the tone early in the draft while accumulating a bundle of draft picks to trade down from pick number two to pick number three. Outside of swapping first round picks, the 49ers received a fourth round and two third rounder’s, one being in next year’s draft. John didn’t stop there; he continuously made trades throughout the draft to help build this team up to winning form. Building a defense like the 2002 Tampa Bay Buccaneers was the plan for Mr. Lynch and accomplished that he did. Not only did the 49ers bring in John Lynch, they also brought in surging offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. Lynch and Shanahan will be a good marriage. Lynch will build his championship caliber defense and Shanahan, with the right quarterback, will plug in any player on offense and make it competitive. It might not happen this year, but once Kyle either grooms a young prospect into his liking or bring in a former player he’s already implanted the Shanahan-way into his mechanics, looking at you Kirk Cousins, this team will be competing for division titles again. This draft class was just the beginning of the Shana-Lynch duo and it’ll be one to build upon.
-1st Round, Pick #3: Solomon Thomas – Defensive End (Stanford)
- If you didn’t know already, John and Solomon took a class called Management Science and Engineering together during Solomon’s freshman year at Stanford. Must be nice to build a chemistry will your GM for that long, not something you see every day. They won’t be working on any school projects, but I’m sure they’ll study film together refining Solomon’s skills and adjusting to the NFL level. Solomon is being placed in a great situation and is the missing link to a great defensive front. He, Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner will form one of the best trios along the defensive line in the league. The unique thing with these three players is you can plug them anywhere on the defensive line. Singling out just Solomon though, he will be the best pass rusher among the three and will get after opposing quarterbacks. Don’t be surprised if you see the 49ers in the playoffs sooner than expected.
-1st Round, Pick #31: Reuben Foster – Linebacker (Alabama)
- That’s what Reuben Foster did to the New Orleans Saints when he heard his name called one pick earlier by the San Francisco 49ers. If not for some off field issues and a lingering shoulder injury, he would have been the first linebacker off the board and a top ten pick. This was the steal of the first round and gives the 49ers a defensive field general to lead the future backbone of this team. Reuben is a hard-hitting machine and can drop back in coverage as well, that type of talent is a rare breed. He will come in and be a starter somewhere in the linebacker core from day one. John Lynch must have been ecstatic when his third overall player was available so late in the first round, that’s why he moved up to snatch his version of Derrick Brooks.
-3rd Round, Pick #66: Ahkello Witherspoon – Cornerback (Colorado)
- Insert the 6’3″ corner into the starting lineup. This kid will come in and compete for the starting corner spot if Jimmie Ward stays at the safety position. I don’t see any scenario where he stays on the bench. Ahkello’s size and speed will help him match up against some of the bigger wide outs in the game. The corners from last year continuously got burnt and the secondary was their biggest need on defense, this was a great pick that will help in the immediate future. Like any rookie, he does have some weaknesses. Despite being genetically gifted, he doesn’t create many turnovers, which isn’t a big issue if you can shadow the opposing number one receiver. Lack of physicality in the run game is also an area of concern, but with the studs they have up front he shouldn’t need to make a one on one tackle too often. Regardless of his faults, Ahkello will see significant playing time this season and be a huge upgrade in the secondary.
-3rd Round, Pick #104: C.J. Beathard – Quarterback (Iowa)
- Kyle Shanahan is one of the cockiest guys in the league. He believes he can plug in any player into his offense and wouldn’t miss a beat; however, he does have a type when it comes to his quarterbacks. Strong arm that dissects the defense from the pocket. It’s only fitting to bring in a guy that’s drawing comparisons to Kirk Cousins. In college C.J. played in a pro-style offense so he’s already one step ahead, but needs to work on pocket presence and deep ball accuracy. I intend on Matt Barkley starting with Brian Hoyer as the backup and don’t anticipate Beathard seeing the field this season, but give him some time to be groomed into Kirk 2.0 and Shanahan will be yelling “I told you so” from the rooftops.
-4th Round, Pick #121: Joe Williams – Running Back (Utah)
- If you don’t know about Joe Williams’ story yet, I encourage you to go take a look. Truly emotional and inspiring. Long story short, his sister passed away at a young age and he blamed himself. That weight was being carried over him for years, and then this past season he decided to “retire” after a couple games. Few injuries later and his former teammates rallying for Joe to return, he comes back and just dominates. After Joe’s short four game retirement, he averaged 190.29 yards per game in the last seven games. Joe might be considered third on the depth chart, but if he plays like he did last year at Utah, he’ll get his touches. Carlos Hyde is the main back right now, despite some early off-season chatter about a possible trade, and Tim Hightower was brought in to be the change of pace runner and pass catcher. If Carlos does in fact not fit the system and is either traded or gets buried on the roster, Joe could very well leap frog Tim for the starting role. Fun fact, Joe’s last game college game was played in the Foster Farms Bowl, which was hosted at Levi’s Stadium, home of the San Francisco 49ers. He went on to have 222 rushing yards and a touchdown. Hope Joe gets his chance to show off his talents, he’ll be special.
-5th Round, Pick #146: George Kittle – Tight End (Iowa)
- Smells like a potential safety net for a young quarterback. The tight end position is usually a young passers best friend, so why not bring in a guy that has chemistry with your assumed future quarterback; it’s the perfect plan really. Kittle has huge upside and will see playing time, his only competition is Vance McDonald and he was the starter by default last year. I can see them rotating Vance and George at first, but the 6’4″ tower from Iowa will eventually take over. Kittle has the potential to finish in the top three in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns for this team. Any football related knocks against this prospect are coachable and easy fixes. The tight end position was a deep class this year and if this was another year, he would have gone higher than the fifth round; shoot eight went ahead of him alone. This is a long-term pick that has more value than a fifth round tender.
-5th Round, Pick#177: Trent Taylor – Wide Receiver (Louisiana Tech)
- We’ve reached the point of special teams or depth players from here on out for the 49ers. San Fran doesn’t have the best receiver group, but it is a group of solid veterans led by top free agent acquisition Pierre Garcon. The only impact Trent will make for this team this year will be on special teams and at best could be the main kick return guy. Looking at the future though, he can be a potential replacement for the slot position. Trent is tough and plays bigger than his 5’8″ size. Won’t shy away from taking a hit on a slant route up the middle. Could be the next Wes Welker or could be playing in Canada in the coming years. We’ll find out one way or another.
-6th Round, Pick #198: D.J. Jones – Defensive Tackle (Mississippi)
- Known more of a run stuffer, he’ll be used on early downs or obvious short yard run plays. Good selection, player and depth pick. They’ll find a role for him, especially since there isn’t anyone special behind the big trio of Armstead, Buckner, and Thomas. If Gus Bradley, the defensive coordinator, transitions this team to a 4-3 scheme D.J. could see even more playing time and battle for a starting role or rotational player. The NFC West likes to run the ball with Todd Gurley, David Johnson and whomever Pete Carroll feels like featuring out of Eddie Lacy and Thomas Rawls. Stopping the run is a must in this division if you want to compete for the title; D.J. possesses the traits and skills to stuff these running lanes.
-6th Round, Pick #202: Pita Taumoepenu – Linebacker (Utah)
- Outside of Aaron Lynch, this linebacker core is either over or approaching the dreaded thirties. Pita can benefit from learning behind some of these aging veterans, and then maybe, just maybe he can find himself having a bigger role. Before then he needs to bulk up and learn some coverage skills. Pita plays great with what’s in front of him, but not so well with what is behind him. Great at getting to the ball, but not always tackling. If Pita makes the team it’ll be on special teams or practice squad. Needs to refine his game before making an impact at the next level.
-7th Round, Pick #229: Adrian Colbert – Defensive-Back (Miami)
- As I said earlier with Ahkello, the secondary needed the most amounts of help, or more appropriately, the corners. This pick will push the current starters to improve or be replaced. Adrian has good size at 6’2″ and speed with a 4.25 40-yard, so we’ll see if he can play up to his length. Doesn’t have much starting experience, so that warrants question to if he’ll even make the team. Gus Bradley likes big fast guys in the back half, so he might have a plan for Adrian long term, but I don’t see this player hitting the field in the regular season to often if at all.
John Lynch came in, drafted the beginning of his defensive hierarchy and dropped the microphone. With Lynch building a force to reckon with and Kyle Shanahan’s plug and go approach on offense, this team is going to be a team to watch out for. Might not be this year per-say, but it’s on the horizon. NFC West, you’ve been warned. San Fran is trending up higher than Kyle’s ego and let me tell you, that’s pretty high. Until next time, have a great day!
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