San Francisco 49ers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
June 3, 2013

Solid Starter

Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State – Round 2
The 49ers landed a nice value selection in Carradine. If he hadn’t torn his ACL in November, he easily could have been a first-round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. There were times where last season when San Francisco could have used more pass rush outside of Aldon Smith. Carradine could help fill that void as soon as his rookie season.

It will be interesting to see how the 49ers use Carradine. The 6-foot-4, 276-pounder could play outside linebacker or beef up to be a five-technique defensive end in the team’s 3-4 defense. Carradine started out 2012 as a backup, but the senior was thrust into the starting lineup and totaled 11 sacks. He has some speed and athletic ability as an edge-rusher.

San Francisco will eventually find the right spot for Carradine. He could be an edge-rusher on the other side from Corey Lemonier, or be the understudy to veteran Justin Smith. Either way, Carradine has versatile size with good speed to be a starter in the NFL.

Most Likely To Bust

Eric Reid, S, LSU – Round 1
The 49ers traded up for Reid in a curious move. They could have stayed at No. 31 and been in position to land a good safety prospect even if Reid didn’t fall to their pick. Safeties Matt Elam or Jonathan Cyprien went off the board at picks No. 32 and No. 33 respectively. I was not a fan of Reid and think that he could be a bust for San Francisco. My reasoning is that the 6-foot-2, 212-pounder really struggled in pass coverage in last season and was burned consistently.

Reid’s splash plays were down in 2012, and he didn’t have as large a presence. The junior started the season with a mixed outing against North Texas. He had seven tackles, an interception and a pass broken up, but also was burned for two touchdowns. Reid struggled in run support versus Florida and took some bad angles with weak tackling attempts. He played better against South Carolina and Texas A&M with a mixed outing against Alabama. Reid again was beaten badly for big passing plays in LSU’s bowl game with Clemson. He totaled 91 tackles, two interceptions and seven passes broken up for the year.

Reid looked better in 2011, but the sophomore had a great supporting cast of play-makers in Morris Claiborne, Tyrann Mathieu and Brandon Taylor. I could see Reid really struggling to cover athletic pass-receiving tight ends and slot receivers in the NFL. The 49ers other starting safety, Donte Whitner, is also better versus the ground game. Teams will attempt to isolate Reid on receivers and, in my opinion, he could prove to be a real liability in pass coverage. spoke with some scouts before the 2013 NFL Draft who really liked Reid and others who didn’t want anything to do with him. The ones who like Reid point to his size, speed, length and hitting ability. The ones who don’t like him point to him getting burned consistently in pass coverage. They figure that if that happens in college, then it will still be a problem in the NFL against better receivers.

San Francisco general manager Trent Baalke has been one of the best in the business, so he deserves the benefit of the doubt until Reid proves otherwise. However, no general manager gets 100 percent of their picks right. Based off his play at LSU, I think there is a real possibility that Reid is a bust.

Potential Boom Pick

Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina – Round 4
I had mocked Lattimore to the 49ers for weeks and kept him there in my final 2013 NFL Mock Draft. It made complete sense for San Francisco to take him. The team has a good stable of running backs so it can be patient with Lattimore and let him work his way back into the form that had many thinking he would be a first-round pick.

Lattimore looked like he was reestablishing himself as a first-round pick last fall. His sophomore season in 2011 was cut short by an ACL tear. He was rusty to start the 2012 season, but was getting into the groove for South Carolina before a late October hit shredded horrifically shredded Lattimore’s knee. He tore his ACL, PCL and MCL. Lattimore has been making impressive progress in his rehab, but it looks like he would be better off rehabbing during the 2013 season and making that a redshirt season on the 49ers’ injured reserve.

Lattimore could be a perfect replacement for veteran Frank Gore in 2014 or 2015. San Francisco has gotten a lot of milage out of Gore, and he has been a tough runner in their power ground game. The 49ers struck gold by taking Gore in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft. He also had an ACL tear in college that helped cause him to fall. However, Gore could be slowing down after just turning 30.

San Francisco has two good young shifty runners in Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James, but neither projects to filling the power back role that Gore has thrived in. The 5-foot-11, 232-pound Lattimore fits the 49ers’ offense well as a blocker and receiver. It looks like a perfect situation for Lattimore to make a legendary comeback and become a steal for San Francisco in the same fashion Gore was eight years ago.

Future Depth Player

Vance McDonald, TE, Rice – Round 2
The 49ers needed to find a backup tight end who could be capable of being a drive blocker for their power running game. Delanie Walker left the team in free agency, so McDonald made perfect sense. He is a powerful player who showed off excellent strength at the Combine, and at 267 pounds, he has the bulk to battle front seven defenders. With an excellent tight end in Vernon Davis ahead of him, McDonald doesn’t figure to be a future starter for San Francisco. However, McDonald should be a good tandem with Davis in double-tight end sets. He also is nice insurance in case the veteran gets injured.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

18. Eric Reid, S, LSU: C- Grade
The 49ers moved up for… Eric Reid? Why? This safety class was incredibly loaded. I’m sure one of Reid, Matt Elam or Jonathan Cyprien would have been available at No. 31. Reid had issues covering last year, so this pick is highly questionable – especially considering that San Francisco moved up for the LSU product.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

40. Tank Carradine, DE, Florida State: A Grade
Outside linebacker was not a top need for the 49ers, but they have so few holes that they can afford to take the best player available. Tank Carradine was projected to go as high as No. 19, so that’s why this is a great pick. Teams can never have enough pass-rushers, and San Francisco appears set, even in the wake of injury. It’s worth noting that the 49ers can have Carradine play five-technique in their defense.

55. Vance McDonald, TE, Rice: B Grade
This would have been a pretty solid pick had San Francisco not moved up. The 49ers lost Delanie Walker, so they needed an in-line tight end. Vance McDonald is a good fit and makes sense in this range. I feel like San Francisco could have stayed put and still obtained him, however. (Update: San Francisco gave up just a seventh-rounder).

88. Corey Lemonier, DE/OLB, Auburn: B Grade
I was going to say that is overkill with these pass-rushers. I can understand the 49ers adding one, but two? One of Corey Lemonier and Tank Carradine is going to be lost in the shuffle. However, it occurred to me that Carradine could play defensive end in San Francisco’s scheme, so this makes much more sense. This is the right range for Lemonier.

128. Quinton Patton, WR, Louisiana Tech: A+ Grade
Why do the smart teams always gets the steals of the draft? Quinton Patton, an outstanding blocker as a wideout, should have gone off the board in the second round. The 49ers don’t need a receiver right now, but they will next year when some of their players (Anquan Boldin, Mario Manningham) hit free agency.

131. Marcus Lattimore, RB, South Carolina: A+ Grade
I had a feeling Marcus Lattimore would go to the 49ers. It just made so much sense. The 49ers were armed with so many picks heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Jim Harbaugh loves to redshirt players and use them down the road. He’ll do that with Lattimore once Frank Gore moves on to another team.

157. Quinton Dial, DE/DT, Alabama: B Grade
It’s not surprising to see the 49ers draft a second defensive lineman. They were hurting for depth in that area heading into the 2013 NFL Draft. Quinton Dial fits the range as a fifth-round prospect.

180. Nick Moody, ILB, Florida State: B- Grade
The 49ers are obviously set with their starting inside linebackers, but they had to find some depth at some point in the 2013 NFL Draft. Nick Moody is a slight reach, but that’s not a big concern in the middle of Round 6.

237. B.J. Daniels, QB, South Florida: C Grade
B.J. Daniels over Matt Scott, Tyler Bray and Sean Renfree? I feel like the 49ers are trolling us.

246. Carter Bykowski, OT, Iowa State: B- Grade
I didn’t have Carter Bykowski being drafted, but he still makes sense for needed tackle depth.

252. Marcus Cooper, CB, Rutgers: B Grade
It’s about time the 49ers added a cornerback. They needed depth help.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: A- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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