Matt Maiocco

2020 NFL Draft profile: If Derrick Brown falls, 49ers could pounce

2020 NFL Draft profile: If Derrick Brown falls, 49ers could pounce

Editor's note: NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment, we profile Auburn defensive lineman Derrick Brown.

It will be nearly impossible for the 49ers to replace DeForest Buckner with just one player.

But Derrick Brown of Auburn might not be a bad place to start.

However, there only is an outside chance that Brown will make it out of the top-10 in the NFL Draft. The 49ers own the No. 13 overall selection, which they acquired in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts for Buckner.

Brown is widely considered the top defensive tackle in the draft, though he grew accustomed to playing every position along the Auburn defensive line during his four-year career.

“It was very beneficial,” Brown said at the NFL Scouting Combine of his ability to play multiple positions. “Being coached in the system, we didn’t really have (set) positions. We played all the way from the zero to the five, and coach mentioned we had to be versatile at every position.

“A lot of teams say they don’t even scout for defensive tackles or nose guards no more. They scout for D-linemen. They want to find guys that can play the positions across the board.”

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Brown started the final 40 games of his college career over his final three seasons. As a senior, he registed 55 tackles, four sacks and 12.5 tackles for loss and was selected as the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.

He also was the winner of the 2019 Lott IMPACT Trophy, named after Ronnie Lott, that goes to the defensive player who has the biggest IMPACT on his team. IMPACT stands for integrity, maturity, performance, academics, community and tenacity.

He made a huge impact on the field with his brute force in the run game. He has plenty of room to grow as a pass-rusher, too.

When asked to describe his biggest asset, he answered, “I think just being able to knock back the line of scrimmage and create pressure that way, but also be able to play the run and create that knock back."

[RELATED: DeForest Buckner trade could make 49ers add D-lineman]

NFL draft profile: Derrick Brown

Height: 6-foot-5
Weight: 326 pounds
College: Auburn
Career stats: 170 tackles, 12.5 sacks, 33 tackles for loss, five forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, eight passes defensed.

Combine measurables
40-yard dash: 5.16 seconds
Vertical jump: 27.0 inches
Broad jump: 108.0 inches
20-yard shuttle: 4.79

What experts are saying
Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN: “Derrick Brown is an unbelievable talent. I circled him in just about every game I saw. It was Derrick Brown, Derrick Brown, Derrick Brown. He is a guy that definitely jumped off the page.”
Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Media: " Brown has excellent size, power and athleticism for the defensive tackle position. As a pass rusher, he has a quick first step and uses his hands very effectively. Against the run, he easily holds the point of attack. Overall, this is a complete player capable of dominating on all three downs. He'll be a difference maker on Day 1.”
Josh Norris, NBC Sports: "Massive interior disruptor who constantly worked through his blocker at the college level. It’s like Brown’s target is always the quarterback and the blocker is just an inconvenience.”
Lance Zierlein, NFL Media: "Defensive tackle with rare combination of size and disruptive traits who frequently bludgeoned inferior competition across from him. He has the ability to power into gaps, but he really shines when he drops his anchor to stall double-teams or punch, press and prey on runners as a two-gapper. He could become a high-impact starter early in his career with an All-Pro ceiling and good starter floor.”

Draft projection: First round (top 15 overall)

49ers safety Jake Thieneman teams with non-profit to make ventilators

49ers safety Jake Thieneman teams with non-profit to make ventilators

A year ago, safety Jake Thieneman placed himself on the radars of prospective NFL teams with a strong showing during his pro day at Purdue.

Now, as a member of the 49ers, he is sheltering-in-place and working out in the basement of his parents’ home in Carmel, Indiana. He also is trying to do his part to lend assistance during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has shut down the sporting world -- not to mention normal life.

Thieneman teamed up with Boston-based The Ventilator Project, a quickly organized non-profit that plans to produce up to 60,000 low-cost ventilators a month while fears continue that there are not enough of the devices to meet the demands.

“There will always be a need for ventilators,” Thieneman told NBC Sports Bay Area. “There’s constantly a need. Globally, there’s an even bigger need.

“Ventilator shortages are not just a unique problem during this time, during COVID-19. Globally, there’s a need for ventilators in developing countries.”

Thieneman entered the NFL last year as an undrafted rookie. He initially signed with the New York Giants, then spent time with the Indianapolis Colts during training camp. The 49ers signed him to their practice squad in mid-December.

Thieneman remained with the 49ers through their run to the Super Bowl. Then, the club signed him to their 90-man offseason roster immediately following the season.

Thieneman, a mechanical engineering major, is splitting his time between preparing himself for whenever the NFL opens its doors and doing his part to lend assistance during the pandemic.

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Alex Frost, founder of FloraBot, and Tyler Mantel, founder of Watertower Robotics, co-founded The Ventilator Project on March 20. Thieneman got involved through Mantel’s brother, a close friend from his time at Purdue.

Thieneman’s role is to provide publicity and help in the fund-raising for the project. Three days after the plan was hatched, the project had 15 engineers helping with the design of the ventilators, he said. Now, there are approximately 200 individuals working on the task.

The goal is for the non-profit organization to deliver ventilators as quickly as possible to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients in the United States and around the world.

A hospital-grade ventilator can cost up to $50,000. The Ventilator Project aims to provide the essentials without the unnecessary accessories and for just a fraction of the cost. The expectation is to provide ventilators that cost no more than $2,000 apiece.

“From the start, it was designed to be entirely sourced with parts that are not currently in the medical supply industry so that we’re not taking away medical supplies that hospitals and other networks need,” Thieneman said.

The Ventilator Project will use materials that are readily available and can go to manufacturing quickly, he said.

“Currently, we have a working prototype that is fully functional,” Thieneman said. “We’re going through the FDA approval process right now.

“We expect, after FDA approval, to be able to produce 1,000 units in the first month, then hopefully scale up to 60,000 a month after that.”

[RELATED: 49ers, Sharks games not expected before November, health official says]

The initial fundraising goal is $100,000, Thieneman said, which would get the project through FDA approval and the first 1,000 units. Then, as the production increases so will the costs.

“We’ll need additional funds so we can scale up our manufacturing to full scale,” Thieneman said.

For more information on the non-profit organization and to make a donation, visit their website: TheVentilatorProject.org.

NFL Draft 2020: DeForest Buckner trade could have 49ers add D-lineman

NFL Draft 2020: DeForest Buckner trade could have 49ers add D-lineman

NBC Sports Bay Area will preview the NFL Draft with a look at the 49ers’ top needs, profiles of prospects that might fit their needs, along with some hidden gems. In this installment we examine why the 49ers have a need at defensive line.

General manager John Lynch highlighted his plan a year ago to build a dominant defensive line.

The 49ers accomplished that goal with the additions of Nick Bosa and Dee Ford to go along with DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead as the headliners.

The defensive line still is one of the strengths of the 49ers, but it might not be as dominant without Buckner, the team MVP who was shipped to the Indianapolis Colts in a trade for the No. 13 overall draft pick.

The 49ers still have good depth on the defensive line, but they found out a year ago that a team can never have too many big-bodied players across the front line. Injuries took a toll on the 49ers, with Ronald Blair, D.J. Jones, Jullian Taylor, Kentavius Street and Damontre Moore going on injured reserve.

Armstead, Bosa and Jones figure to be on the field for most base downs. Ford will play some early downs, but he is best saved for pass-rush situations.

Solomon Thomas and Blair, who is coming off a torn ACL, should have significant roles, too. Taylor, Street, Kerry Hyder and Kevin Givens will compete for roles in the rotation.

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The 49ers are scheduled to have first-round picks at Nos. 13 and 31 overall. Then, they do not have another selection until the fifth round. The 49ers’ two picks on Day 1 gives Lynch some opportunities to move around.

While most of the attention for the 49ers’ first pick has been on the wide receivers, it is entirely possible a defensive lineman could factor into the 49ers’ thinking on Day 1.

Will Auburn defensive tackle Derrick Brown still be available at No. 13? That’s probably unlikely. But if he’s there, would he be at the top of the 49ers’ list ahead of the best-available wide receiver?

[RELATED49ers could target these three wide receivers on Day 3]

Javon Kinlaw (South Carolina) is projected to be selected in the middle of the first round. Or, perhaps, later in the round, the 49ers could go after Ross Blacklock (TCU), K'Lavon Chaisson (LSU) or A.J. Epenesa (Iowa).

The 49ers do not necessarily need a player to step in and replace Buckner, who played more snaps than any other lineman during his four seasons with the club. But the 49ers can use a player who can play a specified role early in his career to enable the club to better move on without Buckner.