49ers finally fill CB need, earn solid grade with Thomas

/ by Josh Schrock
Presented By Big O Tires
Ambry Thomas

At long last, the 49ers filled one of their most glaring draft needs with the No. 102 overall pick, selecting Michigan cornerback Ambry Thomas late in the third round Friday.

The 49ers opened Day 2 of the draft by adding a mauling guard in Notre Dame's Aaron Banks and then surprisingly traded into the third round to grab the violent-running Trey Sermon out of Ohio State.

In grabbing Sermon, the 49ers passed on the likes of Elijah Molden and Ifeatu Melifonwu, both of whom were selected with the two picks preceding Thomas.

In Thomas, the 49ers get a 6-foot, 180-pound corner who's a feisty press-man corner. Thomas is physical, thriving when he can get his hands on the receiver and disrupt the timing of the route. The Michigan product is a former high school receiver with excellent tracking and ball skills.

While Thomas' physicality can sometimes lead to penalties, that can be coached out. He's not as long as some teams might like in an outside corner, but Thomas has 4.4 speed and projects to be a bump-and-run corner at the NFL level. He also is a solid special teams player, which should give him a path to playing time in 2021.

Thomas opted out of the 2020 season, but was solid in 2019, earning third-team All-Big Ten honors after notching 38 tackles (three for loss), three interceptions, four pass breakups and two fumble recoveries in 13 starts.

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The 49ers plan to start Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett on the outside in 2021. But given Verrett's injury history, the 49ers needed to add depth and find a corner who could be a long-term answer should Verrett head elsewhere in free agency next offseason.

Thomas is a solid prospect who fits the mold of what the 49ers want in their corners. After passing on Kelvin Joseph, Asante Samuel Jr., Molden and Melifonwu, Thomas was one of the last corners available, along with Michigan State's Shakur Brown, who has the talent to develop into a starter.

The 49ers finally made a much-needed selection, but they passed on better options earlier in the day.

Grade: B

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