The 49ers have a recent history of letting players make a bigger impact in year two, meaning these second-year pros could shine in 2023.
In 2021, the San Francisco 49ers drafted three players who'd play major roles not during their rookie seasons, per se. But rather during their second year in 2022.
Offensive guard Aaron Banks had only five regular-season offensive snaps his rookie year before becoming a standout starter in year two. Cornerback Deommodore Lenoir turned into a starter his second year, too, and is poised to remain the No. 2 boundary option opposite Charvarius Ward entering 2023.
Safety Talanoa Hufanga went from being primarily a special teams ace his rookie year into a first-team All-Pro in 2022.
The Niners can hope for similar success from their 2022 NFL Draft class, which was relatively underwhelming aside from the final selection, quarterback Brock Purdy, but has a chance to provide a massive impact a year later.
Not unlike what the 2021 draft class did for San Francisco last season.
So, speaking of second-year pros, here are four 49ers players who could make a Hufanga-like leap (and we'd settle for a Lenoir-kind of performance, too).
No. 4: 49ers EDGE Drake Jackson
We'll just get this part out of the way first, as Pro Football Focus tabbed EDGE Drake Jackson as a player who could potentially break out in a big way in 2023.
The Niners seem to believe he can. After all, they let pass-rushers Samson Ebukam and Charles Omenihu walk in free agency, and they also know more help is needed to support the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Nick Bosa.
Jackson struggled with conditioning down the stretch last season, but he nevertheless had some impressive moments earlier in the year, capping off his rookie campaign with three sacks and eight passes batted down.
Reports from offseason workouts state that Jackson looks in much better shape entering 2023, and that could translate into a much more productive campaign for the former USC defender.