The San Francisco 49ers had a few needs to address in this draft. They were able to draft four players that should come in and specifically fulfill them. Trent Baalke and the 49ers targeted certain players that they wanted in the draft. They needed to draft a safety to take over for the loss of Dashon Goldson. The departure of Delanie Walker left a void at the tight end position. The pass rush seemed to dwindle down the stretch so that was another area that needed to be addressed. Lastly they needed to add depth to the wide receiver corps. The first four selections by the 49ers addressed some key areas for improvement.
The first pick that the 49ers made was Eric Reid. They liked him because he is a cerebral football player. Reid is a safe pick that will take over at free safety for years to come. He has the range that is needed to play single high coverage. Reid may not be the ball hawk that some of the 49er fans wanted but he is surely a player that can be relied upon to not give up the big plays. Vic Fangio will be able to drop him in the box to help in run support as well.
The next need was to strengthen the pass rush. Baalke was able to do so by drafting Tank Carridine. Tank will be able to help improve the pass rush from the defensive line. He will probably work from the five technique. Carradine is known for how explosive he is off the line and for being a high motor player. This move will add to the depth that the defensive line and allow the 49ers to have a rotation that will keep their pass rushers fresh.
Corey Lemonier was the next draft pick that was used to improve the pass rush. He will help out from the outside linebacker position and will primarily be used as a rush outside linebacker, teaming up with Aldon Smith, Ahmad Brooks and Parys Harylson to get a push from the outside. Once again the high motor trait shows in a pass rusher that the 49ers selected. Lemonier will need to add to his collection of pass rush moves in order to be a legit pass rusher in the NFL. He will have the opportunity to learn from Aldon Smith, who is one of the most effective at using his hands to keep blockers from getting to his chest plate.
Vance McDonald was selected as the next player to take over as a move/joker tight end. McDonald is already experienced playing in the pistol option and played a lot of different spots at Rice University. He will help out in the running game because he is already used to blocking in space having played a lot of slot receiver. The size/speed/athleticism ratio that McDonald brings to the offense is exciting. He will be a player that the 49ers can move around to create mismatches against smaller defensive backs or slower safeties. He only had 36 receptions last year but 28 of those where for first downs.
The last thing that the 49ers needed to address was their receivers. Quinton Patton is a guy that they met with frequently throughout the draft process. He will be able to play the X, Z and slot positions for the 49ers. He will benefit from being able to learn from Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin. Look for him to develop into a weapon for the 49ers’ offense especially on the bubble screens that they like to throw. Patton was a frequent target on screens at Louisiana Tech and has the yards after catch ability along with the ability to get down the field on posts as good as any rookie wide receiver.
The pickups of Reid, Carradine, Lemonier, McDonald and Patton will be something that will help the 49ers continue in their winning ways. This draft was a case of the “rich getting richer.”
Ed Donatell and Jim Tomsula are two of the best coaches at their positions. Coach Donatell was at the airport waiting for Reid to arrive from New York after the draft. These coaches will enjoy working with their talented rookies. Niner fans should be very excited about the guys that Baalke selected. It will be very exciting seeing these guys progress as the season goes on.