The “Impact” Players
Rounds 1 through 3 in any NFL Draft should provide notable talent. And San Francisco ended up taking home four picks in these three rounds.
Only one of them, safety Eric Reid, has made any notable impact.
As noted, Reid went on to have a fine rookie season, making the Pro Bowl in what looked like would be a promising tenure with the 49ers.
But Reid’s career since then has been marked by injury concerns and has never replicated the kind of efforts seen back in 2013. He’s entering the final year of his contract this season and will see a switch to strong safety, which is probably best for his skill set.
Two picks later, the Chicago Bears drafted offensive lineman Kyle Long — a three-time Pro Bowler — which would have been a great addition to a Niners O-line that lost linemen Mike Iupati and Anthony Davis two years later.
Tank Carradine was one of the more prolific collegiate pass-rushers at Florida State, only his draft stock fell thanks to injury.
Getting him in Round 2 appeared to be a steal, as the Niners could rehab him and eventually work him into former 49ers defensive end Justin Smith’s replacement.
But Carradine was out of position in San Francisco’s then-3-4 defensive alignment, struggled to get on the field and has just four sacks in his pro career. Carradine was having a tremendous preseason a year ago, which seemed to warrant a one-year extension, but it’s unlikely the Niners retain him beyond 2017. He could even be cut prior to the regular season perhaps.
Sitting there a few picks later was current Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. And Trent Baalke had to know he needed a replacement for then-starting running back Frank Gore.
I’ll admit, I was excited the 49ers grabbed former Rice tight end Vance McDonald. I remember reading somewhere McDonald was the closest thing in a tight end to Delanie Walker, who left via free agency that year.
We know McDonald’s issues. He had minimal impact his rookie season, and his subsequent campaigns have been marked by poor pass-catching ability and injuries.
More on that in a bit, but the Niners could have had current Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, who was taken eight picks later.
Baalke moved up from No. 93 overall to No. 88 to grab former Auburn outside linebacker Corey Lemonier in Round 3 — a move intended to reinforce San Francisco’s pass rush.
Yet Lemonier never materialized into a significant pass-rushing force. I can’t recall how many times I watched Lemonier pushed behind the pocket, lacking the creative moves to get inside and to the quarterback.
So it shouldn’t be a surprise he registered only one sack with the Niners before being released prior to the 2016 season.
Meanwhile, defensive tackle Brandon Williams and offensive tackle David Bakhtiari were sitting there waiting. Both would have filled a need.