Round 4, Pick No. 129: Linebacker Telvin Smith
Original Pick: Defensive Back Dontae Johnson
Cornerback Dontae Johnson seemed like a good idea at the time. After all, the 6-foot-2 defensive back was supposed to be the epitome of a big-bodied corner capable of locking down the bigger receivers the 49ers would face en route to another playoff push.
But Johnson has increasingly fallen out of favor since his rookie season, as I broke down a while ago.
Everyone knows how problematic the Niners linebacker situation became in 2015 and 2016. Injuries, retirements and attrition ended up giving way to inside backers like Nick Bellore and Michael Wilhoite starting in 2016.
San Francisco needed tackling machines, and the team could have had one in now-Jaguars linebacker Telvin Smith, taken at No. 144.
Since breaking into the league that season, Smith has logged a solid 269 tackles and 19 passes defended.
It isn’t as if Smith is good at just getting to the ball carrier either. Pro Football Focus handed him an 83.6 overall grade in 2016.