2013 NFL Draft Round Three and Conclusion

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Just when you thought the 49ers draft couldn’t get more crazy, Harbaalke let loose, grabbing seven more players and signing undrafted FA Lawrence Okoye, giving them a huge player haul full of potential stars. After spending their early capital adding to their defense, the 49ers broadened their scope, using their fourth round picks to grab high-upside offensive players who, at the very least, will spend the next season learning how to be a part of the 49ers’ emerging offense.

The 49ers first pick went to Louisiana Tech wide receiver Quinton Patton. He is a elusive, agile and tough wide receiver with great hands and strong route-running, who looks to be the future number two wide receiver once Anquan Boldin finishes his tenure in San Francisco. He isn’t a burner or a deep threat but has great potential to be a playmaker alongside Michael Crabtree. I am really excited to see what the 49ers do with Patton; his arrival will make for an all the more interesting preseason. Their wide receiver corps is extremely deep, and I can’t wait to see who emerges from the tangle of Patton, Jenkins, Manningham, Williams, Lockette, Moore and Hastings.

Surprising no one, the 49ers spent their second pick in the fourth round on South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore. Lattimore is a top-tier talent relegated to a lower round because of several injuries to his knees in his Sophomore and Junior years with the Gamecocks. Although some are calling this pick a gamble, the 49ers did not risk much spending a fourth round pick on a player considered to be the best running back in the draft. He is a powerful, tackle-breaking downhill runner with potential to be the 49ers next number one back. Most are predicting that he spends the next season rehabbing and learning the offense, ensuring that he will be at full strength and well-versed in the aggressive run game favored by the 49ers.

After showing a little love to the offense, the 49ers returned to their defensive line, using their round five pick on Alabama defensive end Quinton Dial. He is an athletic lineman who showed a lot of adaptability playing many spots on the line for the Crimson Tide. He was considered a bit of a gamble; he saw comparatively little playing time at Alabama and didn’t show any particular affinity for pass rush OR run defense. All in all, I would consider him a depth pick, possibly backing up free agent addition Glenn Dorsey.

Showing no signs of slowing, the 49ers used their sixth round pick to add FSU outside linebacker Nick Moody. A back of all trades, Moody has played safety and corner along with linebacker, showing of potential in the defensive backfield. Although his college career was marred by injury, he has shown enough talent to merit a pick. He will probably fill a role similar to that of bizarre free agent addition Craig Dahl, adding depth in the secondary and helping out on special teams.

The 49ers began their trio of seventh round picks with USF quarterback B.J. Daniels. A highly athletic dual-threat quarterback, Daniels is yet another answer to the need for quarterback depth; he will compete with Colt Mccoy to back up Kaep. He is a talented specimen capable of running the read option. He can only benefit from Harbaugh’s quarterback whispering and could prove a better backup than Mccoy. Baalke mentioned after the draft that Daniels could also become the 49ers’ punt return specialist.

Their second of three seventh round picks went to Iowa State offensive tackle Carter Bykowski. Bykowski is 6’6” and weighs 306 lbs, and has enough agility to work as a backup tackle. He is going to provide depth for the best offensive line in the NFL, and should learn a lot from Joe Staley and the rest of the linemen.

The Niners used their last in the 2013 NFL draft to finally pick up a cornerback. Rutgers corner Marcus Cooper has a lot of promise, showing speed, strength and tackling ability. He has experience as wide receiver and could be a hard hitting safety as well. Although he came late in the draft, many look at him as an excellent addition to both the secondary and special teams.

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Unsatisfied with their additions during the draft, the 49ers signed UDFA British Olympic discus thrower Lawrence Okoye. He is easily the most fascinating player the 49ers have added, as he has never played football. This huge downside is outweighed by his tremendous physical gifts, which have been praised to the stars and obviously impressed the 49ers enough for them to take the risk. He is extremely fast and strong, and has displayed a knack for hitting, shown by his viciousness on the rugby pitch. He was a polarizing pick that could either transform himself into one of the scariest defensive linemen in football or fail to translate his gifts to American football. He is in a good position for the former, as he will be trained by Jim Tomsula and will be able to pick up the finer points of defensive linemanship from the likes of Justin Smith. He has expressed a willingness to exert himself as much as possible to learn the sport, which convinced Harbaugh. It will be exciting to see what happens with him.

This draft was even more interesting to cover than expected. We were braced for a lot of exciting moves from the 49ers’ camp, but they somehow used their thirteen picks to exceed our expectations. Baalke was aggressive and mobile, leaping all over the board and picking talented players who all seem to fit with the 49ers. This draft also spoke to Harbaalke’s vision of the team a few years down the road. It is clear that the Niners will remain a defensively intimidating team, boasting a powerful pass rush and remaining one of the league’s toughest to run against.

Constantly hearing about the Seahawks’ free agency additions was getting really old, but the 49ers have given us plenty of exciting additions to stave off mind-numbing chants of “Percy Harvin Explosive”. Although it is impossible to say what this draft will bring, the 49ers have clearly articulated a vision for the team in the next couple of years, seemingly drafting along the lines of flexibility and hard hitting talent while expanding their future options in the offense. A lot of the confidence many have expressed in their choices comes from the fact that the 49ers were already a very complete team to begin with, boasting a coaching staff capable of bringing the best out of each pick. Many of these picks will not have their presence felt next season, as they will be learning their role in the team and soaking up lessons from the veterans. While it is years to early to judge this draft, from where I sit it feels like Baalke did quite well and deserves all the recognition he has garnered over the last few years.

2013 NFL Draft Round Two

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Round Two of the 2013 NFL draft has ended. Three major draft story lines came to a close: Manti T’eo was drafted in the 38th round by the Chargers, a pick later Geno Smith found a home with the Jets and finally Tyrann Mathieu was picked up by the Cardinals in the 69th round.

Trent Baalke did not disappoint, trading down and up, taking advantage of the talent in the second round to go for the picks he and Harbaugh thought would fit best in San Francisco. The 49ers’ moves have been widley praised; so far they have used their dominant position to grab some great players all the while accruing more picks for future rounds and drafts.

The 49ers first pickup was “Tank” Carradine, a big, durable defensive end from FSU. He has a similar (but not identical) build to Justin Smith, but is coming off an ACL injury and at this point looks like a raw pass rusher who can be phased in to supplement Ahmad Brooks and Aldon Smith. He has a reputation for being an eager learner and a hard worker, both of which will help him learn Vic Fangio’s defense.

The 49ers traded up to pick 55 to draft tight end Vance McDonald from Rice. While he certainly isn’t a big-name pickup, he should be able to fill the role of the number two tight end. He is big, fast and has a knack for picking up good YAC. He isn’t a tremendous blocker, but shows enough potential for it not to be a concern. He should be able to learn enough from the 49ers coaching staff to prove a valuable addition as a versatile tight end.

The 49ers traded up once again to go after Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier. Lemonier is speedy and aggressive, and is a supplement to a pass rush that has already been bolstered by the addition of “Tank” Carradine. He is small for a defensive end and may look at a transition to outside linebacker, although at this point it is unclear what the Niners will want to do with him.

The most fascinating thing about the 49ers’ choices so far is the concentration on the defensive line. While Eric Reid helped fill a need, the 49ers seem to be confident enough in their free agency moves to not aggressively pursue talented cornerbacks like Desmond Trufant and Tyrann Mathieu. The doubling-down on pass rush is smart on a number of levels: even though the secondary was endlessly ridiculed after their shortcomings in the playoffs, few looked at the spotty pass rush as something equally responsible for Matt Ryan and Joe Flacco’s success against the 49ers. Clearly, the Niners are confident in the addition of Asomugha and Culliver’s potential to spend their early picks to improve other parts of the team. They have seven more picks to spend, however, and it will be exciting to see how Harbaalke games the last few rounds.

2013 NFL Draft Round One

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Round One of the draft is over and many of the mocks we were inundated with for the last few weeks have been toppled. This was not surprising; a lot of teams, one of them being the 49ers, are known to go for the unexpected pick. Part of this is due to the game of deception that surrounds the draft system, as well as the fact that no one except the coaches and organizations of each team have a really good idea of exactly what they want and need.

The San Francisco 49ers traded their 31st and 74th picks to the Dallas Cowboys, and with their 18th pick grabbed LSU safety Eric Reid. The move received a largely lukewarm reception on the internet (the average ‘grade’ was a solid B). People were surprised at the aggressive move to grab a safety early on in a draft class loaded with them. Reid is skilled, fast and hard hitting, but lacks coverage skills (sound familiar?).

Most saw it as a decisive move to fill the hole left by Dashon Goldson. Harbaugh clearly thinks very highly of Reid’s abilities and intelligence. He recruited Reid while he was coaching at Stanford, and developed a relationship with the young safety and his family. There has been a lot of discussion about Harbaugh’s role in the aggressive trade-up, and that he was determined to ‘get his guy’, but there is really no surprise there. Most were expecting the 49ers to use their stockpile of picks to trade up. While this was a solid, commendable pick, the real excitement comes later. The 49ers still have 11 picks, but have filled a major need at safety. They could easily draft a successor to Donte Whitner, a tight end, cornerback, add to the defensive line and still have capital left over for even more depth or leverage more picks in the future.

One of the most interesting aspects of the internet response to the 49ers choice is the implicit trust so many commentators have in the 49ers coaching staff. They have been so successful at developing players that it feels like the 49ers could transform almost any pick into a successful part of the team. Eric Reid seems like a passionate, driven and intelligent player who will fit well in the 49ers system.

There are a lot of intriguing choices in Round Two, and the 49ers are in a great position to parlay their two picks into more, or to grab any other players they feel they need. Let the Harbaalke dominance begin.