49ers score well, Seahawks fall short in NFC West draft grades
By Peter Panacy
NFC West draft grades: San Francisco 49ers
- QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State (No. 3 overall)
- OG Aaron Banks, Notre Dame (No. 48)
- RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State (No. 88)
- CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan (No. 102)
- OT Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan (No. 155)
- CB Deommodore Lenoir, Oregon (No. 172)
- S Talanoa Hufanga, USC (No. 180)
- RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 194)
The ultimate takeaway from the 49ers’ 2021 NFL Draft class will be Trey Lance, and the Niners are banking on his potentially limitless potential by trading away two future first-round picks with the hopes he turns into one of the league’s next elite quarterbacks.
If so, the rest of San Francisco’s draft class won’t matter too much (OK, it will. But it won’t be judged by anything else other than Lance).
The 49ers’ remaining draft picks signified a very workmanlike class, highlighting the offensive line, secondary and the ground game — three elements that all needed reinforcements. Aaron Banks might not necessarily be a correct scheme fit in head coach Kyle Shanahan’s zone offense, but the Notre Dame product is solid in pass protection and a nasty run blocker, while Jaylon Moore is a versatile lineman who can back up multiple spots.
Grabbing Trey Sermon instead of a cornerback in Round 3 was a bit of a reach, yet Shanahan’s offense is so run-dominant. And in the wake of serious injuries to rushers Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. last year, adding Sermon and the overly speedy Elijah Mitchell makes sense.
Ambry Thomas and Deommodore Lenoir probably won’t start at cornerback right away, and ideally, the Niners would have prioritized higher-profile corners earlier in the draft instead of waiting until late in Round 3 and then in Round 5. Yet that might be the only massive question mark from San Francisco’s vantage point.
The 49ers could be getting a steal with USC’s Talanoa Hufanga, who was projected as a fourth-round pick.
Overall, the Niners beefed up the important areas where it’ll make the most impact.