Team-by-Team Draft Review: San Francisco 49ers

Eric Olinger


Today we take a look at the San Francisco 49ers’ 2015 draft class. Perhaps no team has been hit as hard as the 49ers this off-season, from parting ways with coach Jim Harbaugh, to losing Patrick Willis, Chris Borland, Justin Smith and Anthony Davis to unexpected retirements. Not all is doom and gloom, though. The team has stocked the cupboard with talented players over the last couple of years, plus has NaVarro Bowman returning from injury. Adding these ten draft picks will help replace the departing players.

Round one, pick 17- Arik Armstead, Defensive End

In today’s NFL, rarely are you able to draft a player in the first round with the mindset of letting him sit and develop a year without the media calling him a bust. I believe the 49ers front office selected Armstead with the belief Justin Smith would return for one more season. Armstead has a ton of potential and is a physical specimen at 6’7” and 292 pounds. Throughout the draft process he was compared to Arizona Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell, who stands at 6’8” and 300 pounds. Armstead won’t all the sudden be rushed into the starting lineup for the Niners, as they signed Darnell Dockett in free agency and have Glenn Dorsey and Tank Carradine to man their defensive line rotation. The plan hasn’t changed for Armstead. 2016 is when he’ll get his chance.

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Round two, pick 46- Jaquiski Tartt, Strong Safety

This selection was a bit of a head scratcher considering the talent available at inside linebacker at the time. Tartt is a small school prospect coming out of Samford but had a ton of positive momentum coming out of the Senior Bowl and into the draft. There was a pretty good shot he would have been gone before the Niners picked again. He has the ability to play both free and strong safety and has zero issues helping out in run support. The Niners have the ability to play a lot of punishing defenders in their back seven this year with Bowman, Aldon Smith, Jimmie Ward, Eric Reid, Antoine Bethea and Tartt. Reid and Tartt are the week one starters at safety in 2016.

Round three, pick 79- Eli Harold, Outside Linebacker

I loved this pick. You can call this the “Aldon Smith Protection Pick.” Harold is a talented pass rusher who is only going to get better with NFL coaching as he transitions to outside linebacker. He is “lunch pail” player who isn’t insanely talented, but busts his butt from whistle-to-whistle. Like most players making this transition, his rookie year will be spent as a situational pass rusher. If the 49ers decide to move on from Aldon Smith next offseason, or if he lands in hot water again, they’re in good shape to move forward.

Round four, pick 117- Blake Bell, Tight End

Nicknamed “The Bell Dozer,” Blake Bell is a 6’6”, 252 pound former back-up quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners. While he was never actually a quarterback, he was actually Tim Tebow without the arm. Let that sink in for just a second. He was exclusively the “jumbo” package quarterback while backing up Landry Jones. He finished his college career at tight end and projects as an interesting H-back in the NFL. I doubt he’ll ever have much fantasy relevance, though.

Round four, pick 126- Mike Davis, Running Back

When Frank Gore signed with the Indianapolis Colts in free agency, the 49ers were ready to move forward with second year player, Carlos Hyde, as their lead back. What they needed to find was a dependable back-up runner and this is what they got with Davis. Mike Davis is 5’9”, 217 pound downhill runner with solid hands. He filled the shoes of former 49er running back, Marcus Lattimore, at South Carolina. Once he polishes his pass blocking skills, he’ll push Hyde to play to the maximum of his capabilities. At the very least, he’ll be a very solid handcuff for an unproven player.

Round four, pick 132- DeAndre Smelter, Wide Receiver

The one thing Trent Baalke always seems to do is find players he really likes and then draft young players just like them to replace them down the road. DeAndre Smelter has a whole lot of Anquan Boldin to his game. He’s big, strong and very football smart. The one negative against him is the fact he’s recovering from a torn ACL suffered just prior to the ACC Championship game. While not a negative necessarily, he also played in Georgia Tech’s ultra run-heavy offense. Even though this offense has produced both Calvin Johnson and Demaryius Thomas, it has also given us players like Stephen Hill, so players are always compared to both ends of the wide spectrum. I think Smelter will be a very solid wide receiver in the NFL and in fantasy football starting in 2016.

Round five, pick 165- Bradley Pinion, Punter

Bradley Pinion is a punter. Enough said. His selection did allow the team to trade incumbent Andy Lee to the Cleveland Browns for a 2017 seventh round selection though. I guess that’s a win, right?

Round six, pick 190- Ian Silberman, Guard

Silberman played right tackle for Boston College in 2104 and earned third team All-ACC honors after transferring from the University of Florida. Silberman is 6’5” and 294 pounds with experience at both inside and outside of the offensive line. He’s fundamentally sound and plays with natural power. He’ll be a long term reserve player at guard for this team, but at the rate players are retiring, who knows?

Round seven, pick 244- Trenton Brown, Guard

Trenton Brown is a very large human being, at 6’8” and 355 pounds. He had positive grades in very limited playing time at Florida, but SEC linemen tend to get gobbled up by NFL teams. Brown himself said he was already getting the priority free agent treatment before the 49ers selected him, so other teams were interested as well.

Round seven, pick 254- Rory “Busta” Anderson, Tight End

Someone isn’t going to make this roster at the tight end position. With Vernon Davis and Vance McDonald locked into roster spots, it leaves rookies Anderson and Bell to compete with Garrett Celek and Derek Carrier for the final spots.

Follow me on Twitter @OlingerIDP.


eric olinger
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