Before we get to 49ers draft grades, let’s take a look at what happened in day 2 and who the 49ers have picked thus far.
The San Francisco 49ers draft took an interesting twist in day two. After a surprising first round, in which no trades were made by Trent Baalke and the 49ers’ front office, day two started with a bang before the first team was on the clock.
In the most exciting move of the 49ers draft so far, the 49ers sent a conditional 4th round pick to Buffalo for Stevie Johnson, a talented receiver that will have an instant impact as the number three wideout. His contract is not expiring anytime soon, which helps, as the 49ers have one year left on Michael Crabtree‘s and only two on Anquan Boldin‘s. Johnson, 27, is in the midst of his prime and, despite a rough outing last year, his step back can primarily be attributed to poor quarterback play and Johnson’s injury.
When the clock started ticking, it seemed as if the 49ers did not want to pick. They kept trading down, and down, and down–with one trade up right after trading down. Though each and every pick was of tremendous value, and it is hard to fault any one of them, the 49ers did address one of their two most glaring needs: cornerback and receiver. Had the 49ers not picked up Johnson, this article would be much more critical of the 49ers’ decisions on day two. Here is a look at each of the 49ers picks thus far:
30: Jimmie Ward, S/Nickelback, Northern Illinois
Ward is a smart pickup who will play extensive minutes in the extremely common 3 cornerback sets while developing into a replacement for Antoine Bethea down the road. A really versatile player who helps anchor a defensive backfield that needed some help.
57: Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
Though this did not make a lot of sense with the 49ers’ needs, after trading down (and then up, so basically trading down a pick) and losing out on Cody Latimer, the 49ers picked up a power running back that will be an excellent replacement for Frank Gore. Hyde, Marcus Lattimore, and Kendall Hunter, along with LaMichael James, should he stick around, will be one excellent backfield. Expect Gore and James to leave soon, but still, that’s one impressive backfield.
70: Marcus Martin, C, USC
The last man left in the green room at Radio City Music Hall, the 49ers got a steal after trading back nine spots. Martin is a guy who could potentially start day one, but will by no means have to. Perhaps the 49ers are not as sold on Daniel Kilgore as we thought, or, more likely, they are preparing for life without Mike Iupati.
77: Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
Though not the tallest guy in the world (roughly 5-10), Borland has a heart of iron and plays with an intensity Jim Harbaugh no doubt loves. He was a steal at this point in the draft and will be an excellent special teams player, Navarro Bowman replacement for half a year, and spell linebacker at multiple positions.
100: Brandon Thomas, OT, Clemson
After a ton of trades, the 49ers ended up with one less pick today than they had entering it. With their last pick the 49ers chose a Clemson player, just not the playmaking wide receiver Niner Noise has been plugging for awhile. Martavis Bryant is still available, however, and the 49ers should definitely look closely at him in the early fourth round. As for Thomas, another great value pick. If it were not for an injury that will keep him out at least a good chunk of the season, Thomas would have gone much, much higher. The 49ers could easily redshirt him a year. (Sound familiar?)
All in all, the 49ers had a good draft in day two. I give it a B+ thus far, and that is really pushing an A once Stevie Johnson is considered.
The 49ers still need to address receiver, cornerback, and outside linebacker in rounds 4-7.