The 49ers didn’t get a lot of production out of their 2022 NFL Draft class, meaning these second-year pros have to make a statement and impact in 2023.
With a full year in the books, it’s safe to say the San Francisco 49ers’ NFL Draft class from 2022 underwhelmed over the course of its inaugural season.
Granted, the Niners’ class of rookies from a year ago all went to a team that didn’t particularly have a lot of holes to fill, meaning that depth and development were going to be more important (and likely) than making an immediate impact.
However, of the 2022 rookie class, only quarterback Brock Purdy (Round 7) and right guard Spencer Burford (Round 4) made any sort of substantial impact, the former gaining the bulk of recognition for his efforts under center down the stretch and into the playoffs.
Purdy has put himself in a position to continue starting for San Francisco in 2023, and the same goes for Burford.
As for the rest of those 2022 rookies still on the 49ers roster? It’s less certain.
These four, in particular, have to bounce back in a big way in 2023 to ensure they have a bona fide role during their sophomore seasons with the red and gold.
No. 4: Drake Jackson, 49ers’ top pick from 2022 NFL Draft, has to make a big impact
It was viewed as a steal when the Niners got their hands on former USC EDGE Drake Jackson at No. 61 overall. And, despite lackluster collegiate production with the Trojans, Jackson had all the intangibles to suggest he’d develop into an excellent pass-rusher to pair with the All-Pro, Nick Bosa.
At first, Jackson flashed that promise, recording seven pressures and three sacks while batting down eight passes and even recording an interception.
By year’s end, though, Jackson was a healthy scratch and didn’t even take the field during the postseason, which was quite a disappointment from a player who was taken in Round 2 of the draft.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan pointed out that conditioning ultimately did Jackson in late in the year, and physical training will be a priority for the pass-rusher entering year two.
If Jackson can’t grasp the sense of urgency, San Francisco will have little other choice but to explore pass-rushing options elsewhere.