How 49ers' additions during draft fit into the big picture

How 49ers' additions during draft fit into the big picture

During the course of the three-day NFL Draft, 49ers general manager John Lynch made six trades to finish the weekend with 10 draft picks and one veteran player.

There is a specific plan for each of those players, Lynch said.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Parcells sent 49ers CEO Jed York a text and asked him to pass along some words of advice for the first-time general manager.

“He talked about making sure if you’re going to draft someone that everybody from personnel to coaching staff has a clear vision for what this player’s going to be for us,” Lynch said of the text from Parcells. “And we’ve tried to, with each player, challenge coaches to say, ‘How are you going to play this guy?’

“And if there’s any (vagueness) or it’s not crystal clear how they anticipate playing him, then we’ve either challenged them, ‘You better get there or I can’t feel comfortable taking him,’ and move on.”

Here is a look at the 11 players acquired and how they fit into what the 49ers are trying to build:

First round, No. 3: DL Solomon Thomas, Stanford
Thomas has the versatility to play – or at least be given a chance – at every position along the 49ers’ four-man line with the exception of nose tackle. The defensive end position on the strong side is his natural position. He is also a nice fit at the defensive tackle spot next to the team’s pass-rusher position on the weak side. Thomas could also get a look at that pass-rusher position, where Arik Armstead will get a look when he gets healthy from shoulder surgery.

First round, No. 31: LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
The 49ers signed veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith to a five-year, $26.5 million contract with $11.5 million fully guaranteed on the first day of free agency. But the 49ers traded up to grab Foster at the end of the first round with the thought of playing him in the same position. Foster will immediately learn the “Will” linebacker position. “That’s where he’ll lineup, but he’s going to be sideline to sideline,” Lynch said. Eventually, Foster could replace Bowman at middle linebacker. In Foster, the 49ers envision a player who can also make contributions on special teams, in pass coverage and as a pass-rusher.

Third round, No. 66: CB Ahkello Witherspoon, Colorado
Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson lined up at the cornerback positions during the voluntary veteran minicamp last week. Witherspoon is a talented player who is relatively new to the game. He admitted his tackling needs a lot of work. If he can play with a physicality and an attitude, he could win a starting job as a rookie over some of the other unproven cornerbacks on the roster.

Third round, No. 104: QB C.J. Beathard, Iowa
Coach Kyle Shanahan hand-picked Beathard to develop for future seasons. There is no pressure. Beathard comes to the 49ers as the clear No. 3 quarterback behind starter Brian Hoyer and backup Matt Barkley. “He’s extremely intelligent,” Shanahan said. “Football means the world to him. He really works at it. He’s accurate and he can process and play the game very fast in the pocket, I think that gives you a chance to play in this league. By no means does that mean that he’s ready to do that, but I think that’s a great guy that you have a chance with.”

Trade with Denver: RB Kapri Bibbs
Lynch served as a TV analyst for the Broncos exhibition games, and he liked what he saw from Bibbs, who spent three seasons in Denver. Bibbs finally earned a role last season with 29 carries for 129 yards in 12 games. He figures to compete for action on third downs, where Shanahan can isolate him in favorable matchups to catch passes out of the backfield.

Fourth round, No. 121: RB Joe Williams, Utah
Carlos Hyde is entering the final year of his contract, and he is going to have to show a lot to warrant a second contract with the organization. Williams (5-foot-11, 210 pounds) could take over as the team’s top running back. The 49ers initially removed Williams from consideration because he walked away from his college team early in the season. But Shanahan watched him on film and loved what he saw. After digging deeper into his background, the 49ers felt confident enough to invest a fourth-round pick in him.

Fifth round, No. 146: TE George Kittle, Iowa
Kittle is a good blocker who has a lot of upside as a pass-catcher. He is just four pounds lighter than O.J. Howard and ran an official time in the 40-yard dash at the combine that clocked just .01 seconds slower than the first tight end selected. The 49ers spent the weekend shopping veteran Vance McDonald in a trade. His time appears to be running out. It does not help him that Shanahan selected a tight end that exhibits the traits he wants from that position.

Fifth round, No. 177: WR Trent Taylor, Louisiana Tech
Taylor caught 136 passes and led the nation with 1,803 receiving yards as a slot receiver. His addition places oft-injured Bruce Ellington’s future with the team on shaky ground. Taylor is more quick than fast, and that is OK for how the 49ers envision using him. “This was a guy that we were excited with in his ability to separate in the slot, which is such a key component in today’s football,” Lynch said. Jeremy Kerley begins the offseason program as the 49ers' top slot receiver.

Sixth round, No. 198: DT D.J. Jones, Mississippi
The 49ers’ run defense was horrible last year, and it all started at nose tackle. The team signed veteran Earl Mitchell as the presumptive starter. The 49ers are still trying to find the best fit for Quinton Dial, who could work his way into that position, as well. Jones gives the 49ers more brute strength on the inside. Said Lynch, “He’s a stout nose, who also has three-technique versatility, but yet I think really dynamic."

Sixth round, No. 202: DE/OLB Pita Taumeopenu, Utah
The 49ers have a few players they plan to audition at the pass-rush spot known as the “Leo.” Most of those players are big-bodied and are not prototypes for that position. Taumeopenu provides the 49ers with a dynamic pass-rusher who recorded nine sacks last season. “We felt like we’ve got so many big guys, we just want a speed rusher off the edge,” Lynch said. “He gave us a guy that, again, a guy that we grew to become very fond of throughout the process.”

Seventh round, No. 229: DB Adrian Colbert, Miami
Colbert is a hard-hitter who could make the team as a rookie based entirely off his play on special teams. The 49ers will place him at cornerback during the rookie minicamp. Depending on how he looks playing that position in Robert Saleh’s defensive scheme, the 49ers could move him to free safety to get work behind Jimmie Ward.

Mike McGlinchey, Fred Warner lead way for 49ers' 2018 rookie class


Mike McGlinchey, Fred Warner lead way for 49ers' 2018 rookie class

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, we look at the development of the 49ers' rookie class.

Through the first 10 games of the season, there appears little doubt the 49ers have two players from their most recent draft class who can be expected to be among the team’s core players for a long time.

Right tackle Mike McGlinchey and middle linebacker Fred Warner have started every game and done everything asked of them.

“We think we have more than a couple of keepers, but those are two guys who come to mind who really hit the field running their rookie year,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said.

Here is a look at the entire 49ers’ rookie class as the club enters the final six games of Year 1:

RT Mike McGlinchey

McGlinchey has not given the organization any reason to second-guess the decision to select the Notre Dame product with a top-10 draft pick.

Lynch felt confident in the person they were drafting to replace Trent Brown, who never exhibited the level of commitment the 49ers wanted to see. Lynch identified three prospects who stood out during the interview process: McGlinchey, Florida State safety Derwin James and Georgia running back Sony Michel. McGlinchey was the pick at No. 9 overall.

“Mike McGlinchey, we felt really strongly about, just what the kid is made of, the type of person he is,” Lynch said. “The best players, the best leaders, make those around them better. I love what Mike McGlinchey has done for Joe Staley.

“Mike is playing really, really good football for a rookie, and we think it’s only going to get better, so that’s very exciting.”

[RELATED: 49ers rookie Mike McGlinchey relishes blocking in Kyle Shanahan's scheme]

Lynch said he believes McGlinchey’s presence has energized Staley. When Staley’s career winds down, McGlinchey is likely to take over at left tackle.

WR Dante Pettis

Pettis received a lot of attention during training camp for his unorthodox running style and deceptive speed. But once the team began, he has faded to the background.

He was inactive for three games with a knee injury, but in the seven games in which he has appeared his impact has been minimal. He has just seven catches for 108 yards and a touchdown.

Pettis has been disappointing as a punt returner, too. The NCAA record-holder with nine career punt returns for touchdowns during his four-year career at Washington, Pettis has struggled fielding punts and has a 3-yard average on nine returns.

The final six games are important for Pettis to show he has what it takes to succeed in the NFL and build some momentum to be a significant playmaker in 2019.

LB Fred Warner

The 49ers invested wisely with their third-round pick on Warner. At the time, the entire football future of Reuben Foster was up in the air. Warner, a jack-of-all-trades during his time at Brigham Young, immediately moved into the middle linebacker position and was responsible for calling the defensive signals.

“We put a lot on him early, in terms of being the mike linebacker, having all that responsibility, not coming off the field, and then top of it, playing a lot of special teams,” Lynch said.

“Anything we’ve asked of Fred, he’s stepped up.”

[RELATED: Fred Warner already proving to be a tackle, turnover machine for 49ers]

Warner leads the 49ers with 76 tackles and five passes defensed. He is the only player on the team with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

CB Tarvarius Moore

The 49ers fell for Moore because of his speed and athleticism. A third-round pick from Southern Mississippi, Moore was converted to cornerback after primarily playing safety in college. The reports out of practice are encouraging, but his play time has been limited. He has mostly played on special teams, but could get a chance to see more action in the final six games.

DT Kentavius Street

After tearing his ACL in a pre-draft workout for the New York Giants, the 49ers plan to open a three-week window during which he can practice with the team before returning to the non-football injury list to finish out the season. The 49ers expect Street, a fourth-round pick from North Carolina State, to be at full strength for next season.

DB D.J. Reed

It has been an up-and-down rookie season for Reed, a fifth-round draft pick from Kansas State. He has backed up at safety and nickel back. He was forced into the Week 10 game against the New York Giants late due to an injury to K’Waun Williams, and Eli Manning immediately targeted him for the game-deciding 3-yard TD pass. Reed had a 90-yard kickoff return against the Chargers, but two fumbles led to a demotion.

S Marcell Harris

The sixth-round pick from Florida played against the Raiders in Week 9. It was the first time he played in a game since the 2015 season at Florida. He sustained a torn Achilles prior to his senior year. Harris is playing special teams while backing up at strong safety.

DT Jullian Taylor

A seventh-round pick from Temple, Taylor earned a spot on the 53-man roster as a developmental player. The 49ers have plenty of depth at this position. He has not yet appeared in a game.

WR Richie James

After initially being among the team’s inactive players, James has appeared in seven games. He caught two passes for 60 yards against the Raiders as he took over in the slot from Trent Taylor. But he also dropped a likely touchdown pass from Nick Mullens. James’ competition with Taylor should heat up next season. James has been the team’s most reliable punt returner, averaging 9.6 yards on seven returns.

TE Ross Dwelley

Undrafted from the University of San Diego, Dwelley was promoted from the practice squad to replace Cole Wick on the 53-man roster after five games. Dwelley (6-5, 240) could stick for a while as a backup. He has one catch for 8 yards.

CB Emmanuel Moseley

Undrafted from Tennessee, Moseley made a strong bid to win a roster spot out of training camp. He earned a call-up from the practice squad for the Week 9 game against the Raiders, but sustained a season-ending dislocated shoulder on his third play on special teams.

Aside from Jimmy G injury, 49ers' loss to Packers is worst 2018 moment


Aside from Jimmy G injury, 49ers' loss to Packers is worst 2018 moment

Editor’s note: The 49ers break for the bye week with a 2-8 record. This is part of a series that recaps the first 10 games with an eye to the future. In this installment, we look at the team's worst moment after 10 weeks. 

With the 49ers holding on to just two wins thus far, there are quite a few choices for the worst moment of the 2018 season. The obvious choices, of course, are losing Jerick McKinnon and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending ACL injuries. 

Looking at actual football plays, one moment led to a proverbial stake being driven into the hearts of 49ers players and fans alike.

With 1:13 left on the game clock at Lambeau Field in Week 6, 49ers quarterback C.J. Beathard threw a deep pass intended for Marquise Goodwin down the middle of the field. A similar play earlier had successfully produced a 49ers touchdown in the second quarter.

This time, the outcome was markedly different. Packers cornerback Kevin King intercepted the ball, and Green Bay took over at its own 10-yard line. 

Aaron Rodgers then used the remaining 1:07 of the game to drive the Packers nearly the length of the field to set up kicker Mason Crosby for the game-winning field goal. The 49ers left Green Bay with their fourth loss of the season.

[RELATED: 49ers' best moment of the 2018 season involves George Kittle]

There are three other honorable mentions of heart-breaking 49ers moments:

-- In Week 4 against the Chargers, the 49ers had a chance to regain the lead in the fourth quarter after they led 14-0 earlier in the game. With 2:38 left on the clock, Beathard threw a short pass intended for Alfred Morris, but Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell picked off the throw, and the 49ers subsequently lost 29-27.

-- Week 8 provoked similar feelings when Cardinals quarterback Josh Rosen threw to five different receivers in his TD drive to put Arizona ahead 16-15 late in the fourth quarter. The ensuing two-point conversion to Larry Fitzgerald took the wind out of the 49ers' sails, but their last offensive play of the game was the most heart-dropping.

With seven seconds left on the clock, the 49ers were at Arizona’s 45-yard line. Center Erik Magnuson, who was in for Weston Richburg, fumbled the snap and lost any chance the 49ers had of tying the score.

-- Eli Manning’s game-winning touchdown drive in Week 10 with the 2:46 left on the game clock put the Giants ahead 27-23. The 49ers got the ball back with 53 seconds left in the game but couldn’t produce, and suffered their eighth loss of the season.