The San Francisco 49ers got better as a team in a variety of areas this weekend. The draft is over so now it’s time to do a 49ers 2014 NFL Draft wrap up. There were a few specific needs that had to be addressed. The 49ers needed to add depth to their wide receiver corps along with their cornerbacks. The front office did a great job of addressing most of their needs.
The 49ers eliminated the need to draft a wide receiver early in the draft after completing a trade with the Buffalo Bills that brought in Stevie Johnson in exchange for a conditional draft pick. That trade allowed the 49ers to have a lot more flexibility on day two and day three.
Here are the 49ers 2014 Draft picks:
First Round 30th Pick: Jimmie Ward FS Northern Illinois
Ward is the most rangy safety in this draft class. He will immediately help out as an option in nickel packages. He has the ability to cover both bigger and smaller receivers in the slot. His game against Florida State in 2012 is a great example of this. There are some questions about his size but he does an excellent job of knowing when to take his shots. He is a sure tackler that has all of the instincts necessary to be a centerfielder at safety for years to come.
Jim Harbaugh: “We believe he’ll compete as a nickel for us as well which is a very important position. He’s a good hitter, but he also makes plays on the ball. He’s extremely fast and has great instincts.”
Second Round 57th Pick: Carlos Hyde RB Ohio State
Hyde is a big bruising running back that will contribute immediately in short yardage situations. Hyde averaged 7.3 yards last year. He isn’t quite a break away back but he will always get positive yardage. Hyde comes to the 49ers as a complete back. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and is able to be effective in pass blocking.
Trent Baalke: “We felt that it was a great value. He can give us great competition
at the position… He’s not a home-run hitter every time he touches the ball, but he’s capable just as Frank has been capable over his career to break some long runs. He runs our style of offense very well.”
Third Round 70th Pick: Marcus Martin Center USC
Martin is a huge value pick in the third round. Daniel Kilgore is the starter at the moment but don’t be surprised if Martin takes over as the starter this season. He is only 20 years old coming into the NFL. Martin is an athletic center that can play either guard spot as well. Head Trainer Mark Uyeyama will need to pull out the untapped strength that Martin has. Martin will also benefit from working with Mike Solari, one of the best offensive line coaches in the NFL. He definitely has the killer instinct. While at his draft press conference, I asked him how he plans to contribute to the physical mindset that the 49ers have. He said that he will do everything in his power to be the most physical player on the field.
Harbaugh: “Gifted, leader, smart football player and productive football player. He has some real gifts athletically that you hope a center has, being able to tork his body… He has a lot of tools to with. Mike Solari will be working with him, a veteran offensive lineman will be very beneficial to him.”
Third Round 77th Pick: Chris Borland LB Wisconsin
Borland is one of the best pure football players in this draft. He uses his natural feel for the flow of the game to make up for whatever physical traits that he may lack. If you watch any of Borland’s games at Wisconsin, you will see him making plays all over the field. He’s always around the football. Borland will backup two of the best inside linebackers in Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman. Expect Borland to be a major special teams contributor on the coverage units.
Harbaugh: “Very excited about Chris. Some of the plays he makes, the instinct that he has, the way that he sees the game, you know he studies it because of the way he (plays)… He’s like a bowling ball hitting pins. He’s got that kind of strike.”
Third Round 100th Pick: Brandon Thomas Guard Clemson
Thomas was one of the top interior lineman prior to injuring his knee in a private workout for the New Orleans Saints. This pick will benefit the 49ers next year, especially if they can’t retain Mike Iupati or Alex Boone. Thomas played left tackle but will kick inside to guard. He can use his long arms and his ability to get a strong initial punch to open holes for the 49ers especially on inside running plays. He is also light on his feet which will be a plus when he is called upon to be a pulling blocker. Thomas received high praise for his ability to neutralize Jadeveon Clowney with out any help.
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: “He will be on PUP list all year long; like a redshirt year. And like Marcus Lattimore last year, a luxury pick for San Francisco.”
Fourth Round 106 Pick: Bruce Ellington WR South Carolina
Ellington is quite an athlete. When he was younger, he used to chase chickens and catch them. He was a starting point guard on the South Carolina basketball team for two years but chose to focus on football and it paid off. Ellington adds break away ability to the slot position. He has a compact build like a running back. His ability to get in and out of his breaks so fluently along with his willingness to go over the middle will make him a very good slot receiver.
Mike Mayock, NFL Network: “Think of a bigger Ace Sanders, who came out of same university. He’s quicker than fast, and can help you in the return game. The 49ers needed some wide receiver depth. I continue to applaud the 49ers’ draft.”
Fourth Round 129th Pick: Dontae Johnson CB NC State
Johnson is a big corner that has long arms and will benefit from working with defensive backs coach Ed Donatell. He played pretty well against Clemson which had two receivers drafted this year. There have been some teams that wanted to move Johnson to safety but he is a better fit at corner. Johnson said that the 49ers will work him at corner.
Baalke: “Versatility, intelligence and A-plus-plus character guy. We’re going to lock in and get him at corner, let him go to work.”
Fourth Round 150th Pick: Aaron Lynch OLB South Florida
Lynch was a player that many draft analysts spoke about as being a potential find as a pass rusher. He started off very well at Notre Dame then transferred to South Florida. Lynch has the ability but there have been questions about him staying motivated and underachieving. The 49ers are a good spot for him because of the veteran locker room and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula is no stranger to getting his players ready to go.
Harbaugh: “This is a good young man who needs direction, a good structure around him where has men to look up to, to have a chance to emulate. He’ll thrive in that kind of environment… There’s a real chance to have a
partnership there… He has a chance to be successful, we felt.”
Fifth Round 170th Pick: Keith Reaser CB Florida Atlantic
Reaser is coming off of ACL surgery and will likely be a PUP player for the 49ers. When healthy, he is very good in off man coverage and has shown the ability to mirror receivers well. Both of these are good matches for what the 49ers ask their corners to do.
Mike Mayock,NFL Network: “This is a value pick. The 49ers have so many picks, so they are picking for next year. They will put Reaser on the PUP list, but this is a 4.3 (40) corner and those are rare.”
Fifth Round 180th Pick: Kenneth Acker CB SMU
Acker is said to be a corner that has intriguing ball skills. Scouts like his coverage instincts. He has the ability to diagnose route combos and make a play on the ball once it is thrown his way. He will challenge for a spot on the special teams coverage units.
Gil Brandt, NFL Network “Every year a defensive back from SMU makes a roster, and Acker
is as good as any who have been there in previous years. He had a strong pro day, with a hand-timed 4.50-second 40, a 36-inch vertical and a 6.94 three-cone drill.”
Seventh Round 243rd Pick: Kaleb Ramsey
Ramsey will play at the five technique for the 49ers. He is a disruptive, high effort player. Ramsey gets a good burst off of the ball and has the strength to hold his own against would be blocker. The 49ers will like his high motor that is evident when watching him continuously pursue the ball carrier. His injury history is surely a red flag as he is a sixth year senior.
Baalke: “The scouts were tired of grading (him) because he’s been in the last three drafts with a medical history that knocked him out the past couple seasons.”
Seventh Round 245th Pick: Trey Mallard FB Oklahoma
Mallard is a tough blocker that can use his good vision to seek out would be tacklers. His strength to the 49ers is his versatility. His blocking, rushing, receiving and special teams ability will help save a roster spot. Mallard will be an option catching the ball out of the backfield and is actually swift on his feet which will give them another big runner at 6-2 247 pounds.
Baalke: “He’s played a lot of football at a big-time program. He’ll be asked to block, to get out into route, to block both run and pass-game and, at times, maybe very few, get the football.”