Grades for the 49ers’ Draft Picks
The 2017 NFL Draft was full of surprising moves by the 49ers. With six trades by John Lynch and ten players selected, it was a busy day at the office. The 49ers’ front office made some moves to revamp the rebuilding roster back to prominence.
John Lynch and company made sure to get players across the board that fits their criteria. They made sure to get the players that they wanted and that would fit their culture. With that being said, let’s look back at the new additions in San Francisco.
Third overall draft pick: Solomon Thomas, DL
Thomas is an intriguing player, as he will be used in nearly every part of the defensive line. The team is implementing the Seahawks’ scheme on defense and hope that the defensive lineman from Stanford will fit the mold.
The most important part of Thomas’ game is his play against the run. This is something that the 49ers lacked as they were dead last in the run defense category. They need someone like Thomas to come in and change the narrative on the defense. Plus, his ability at getting after the quarterback is something to look forward to next season.
31st overall draft pick: Reuben Foster, ILB
Possibly the most surprising move by the 49ers was with them trading back into the first round for Foster. It’s something of a high risk, high reward situation with his off the field issues and shoulder injury. The last time the 49ers wanted to trust the first rounder with these same problems off the field was Aldon Smith. Hopefully, the team won’t have these same kinds of problems with the former Alabama inside linebacker.
Aside from his issues, the talent and need for someone at his position outweigh the risk. He will arguably be the best running mate option for NaVorro Bowman as many consider him to play the same way as Bowman’s former partner on the inside in Patrick Willis.
Willis did it at a higher level for longer at Mississippi but he did not have to wait his turn like Foster at Alabama, who was left to star in a supporting role on defense and special teams early. Once unleashed, however, his sheer explosiveness made him an undeniable force for the Tide. If able to remain healthy – a legitimate concern given the mighty collisions he creates – Foster projects as a future Pro Bowler.
No matter how critics try to break it down, Foster is a steal for the 49ers.
66th overall draft pick: Ahkello Witherspoon, CB
Tramaine Brock’s release has left a vacancy open for any cornerback on the 49ers’ roster. However, this hole could be filled by Witherspoon.
The Colorado Buff has the length and speed to keep up with any receiver. His attention to where the ball will be and the anticipation to knock it away is incredible. He can be used as the team’s outside cornerback or the slot cornerback.
The one problem with him though is that he can’t tackle. He needs more time on the tackling dummy.
The secondary shakeup will give fans an understanding of how he will be used. Witherspoon will be immediately brought in during his rookie year.
104th overall draft pick: CJ Beathard, QB
Beathard is the biggest headscratcher from this draft class for the 49ers. The 49ers are in desperate need of a quarterback. However, Beathard does not fit this necessarily.
His numbers in college are not spectacular, and his physical tools aren’t anything to write home about either. The one outlier from this though is that Shanahan has given Beathard some high praise. Even going as far as to compare him to Kirk Cousins.
It’s clear that Shanahan chose Beathard for a reason. We will see by the time the season comes around though. Who knows? He could turn out to be the next mid-round steal.
121st overall draft pick: Joe Williams, RB
Many analysts didn’t understand this selection by the 49ers. The thing is that rumors are swirling about the 49ers moving on from Carlos Hyde after his contract is up after this year.
Williams can fill in for Hyde if need be. However, the best case scenario for the team is that Hyde stays after for this season and will have Williams in a smash and dash situation. Williams is the best backup option thus far in comparison to some of the others on the depth chart.
The former Ute can provide some much-needed burst for the team and can come in if Hyde is ever injured. Shanahan used this same philosophy when he was in Atlanta with Freeman and Coleman.
His biggest flaws are that he isn’t used to being a receiver or a blocker. Plus, with his brief time spent away from football, it’s hard to stay positive that he won’t retire once again.
This is arguably the best place for Williams as the last time he was in Levi’s Stadium he had over 200 yards on the ground against Indiana. Let’s hope to see more of that with him on the 49ers.
146th overall draft pick: George Kittle, TE
Kittle is an exceptionally talented player at tight end. He can play well as a receiver and is used to blocking.
The 49ers were in trade talks about Vance McDonald during the draft. They didn’t trade away McDonald though, but it is nice to see that McDonald will be getting some much-needed help at the tight end position in Kittle.
177th overall draft pick: Trent Taylor, WR
The slot receiver from Louisiana Tech had an incredible season last year. He led the nation with 136 catches, over 1,800 receiving yards, and twelve touchdowns.
His biggest flaw is his measurements. He’s 5’8″ and 180 pounds making him the smallest out of all of the receivers on the depth chart.
Shanahan can still find something for him as the scrappy short receiver. Taylor can become another Wes Welker or Cole Beasley.
198th overall draft pick: DJ Jones, DL
Jones brings some added depth to the defensive line. He can fill in at the defensive tackle spot or the end position.
He won’t come in right away. Jones will end up more as a special teams player.
202nd overall draft pick: Pita Taumoepenu, DL
Another player that brings depth to the defensive line. Same thing that I wrote on DJ Jones.
229th overall draft pick: Adrian Colbert, DB
Colbert comes in as the team’s final draft pick of 2017. He also had something to say to all of the teams that passed over him.
Colbert will most likely not have an immediate impact as a defensive back right away, but he will be on special teams as he was during the first three years of his college career at Texas. I’m hoping that his tweet that he sent out becomes something true.