San Francisco 49ers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina – Round 2
For the second straight draft, the 49ers grabbed a receiving weapon for Kyle Shanahan in the second round, and Samuel is a great scheme fit for Shanahan. San Francisco needed more mismatch receivers for Jimmy Garoppolo, and Samuel will bring that kind of potential to the team’s West Coast offense.

Samuel is impressive receiver. His speed and play-making skills with the ball in his hands eclipse how truly talented he is as a wideout. He runs good routes and consistently uses his speed to get separation. Samuel is very dangerous on quick slants and running go routes down the sideline. When the ball is in the air, Samuel is very adept at tracking it and plays the ball well in the air. He high points the ball and times his hands well to make catches over defensive backs. Samuel has soft hands and catches the ball with his hands naturally. He is an aggressive receiver who isn’t afraid of contact.

What really sets Samuel apart is he is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. He has excellent vision to weave around defenders and uses his speed to rip off yards in chunks. He has quick feet with cutting ability to stop-start and stutter step, along with a strong frame to run through arm tackles. When the ball hits Samuel on the run, he is a big problem for defenders as he is tough to grab in the open field with his shifty moves. Samuel has enough speed to run away from defenders and take a catch the distance. Samuel is superb on screens and jet sweeps to race through the defense.

For the NFL, Samuel possesses a lot of versatility. He can line up as an outside receiver and play the X – split end – to challenge teams vertically. Samuel also is dangerous out of the slot and could be a tough receiver to defend on underneath routes. With his size and speed, Samuel also can take some carries out of the backfield. On top of his offensive skills, Samuel is a dynamic returner who could contribute on special teams.

Marquise Goodwin was a disappointment in 2018 for San Francisco, while Dante Pettis had a solid rookie year. With Samuel’s skill set and the way he played last year and at the Senior Bowl, he could make a quick impact. I think he will become a solid starter for San Francisco early in his NFL career.

2017: Fred Warner, LB
2017: Reuben Foster, LB
2016: Joshua Garnett, G
2015: Jaquiski Tartt, S
2014: Marcus Martin, C
2013: Tank Carradine, DE

Most Likely To Bust

Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor – Round 3
Hurd was projected by many media members to be an early-round pick, but I know teams that him graded as low as the late rounds and undrafted ranks. Those teams point to Hurd lacking speed, and they feel that he won’t be able to separate from NFL receivers. He also has some makeup issues that concern teams about him fitting in the locker room. Hurd was a third-day prospect according to other teams, so taking him at the top of the third round with the 67th-overall pick was a huge reach by San Francisco.

San Francisco general manager John Lynch went from the TV booth to running the 49ers’ front office and drafts back in 2017. Lynch had zero scouting experience, and it has showed in his drafts as he has had some real duds. In 2017, he spent the third-overall pick on Solomon Thomas and shortly later traded into the first round for Reuben Foster. Thomas is on his way to being a bust, while Foster is now playing for the Redskins as San Francisco ignored the off-the-field issues that caused many teams to pass on him. I think the Hurd pick could be another blown early-round pick due to his serious bust potential for the NFL.

2018: Dante Pettis, WR
2017: Solomon Thomas, DE
2016: Rashard Robinson, CB
2015: Eli Harold, OLB
2014: Chris Borland, ILB
2013: Eric Reid, S

Potential Boom Pick

Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State – Round 1
John Lynch has been saying the 49ers have needed edge rush for years, and they may have finally fixed the issue by selecting Bosa in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Bosa was considered around the league to be a safe pick and a player who should emerge as a steady pass-rusher early in his NFL career.

In the pass rush, Bosa is a beast. He has an excellent get-off, firing off the snap. He is fast off the edge with the ability to quickly get leverage by using his speed to get an angle to the quarterback. Bosa supplies a lot of quick pressure via tackles struggling to keep him from getting upfield. Along with his quick feet, Bosa has the agility to cut back to the inside thanks to his athleticism to bend and get underneath blockers.

Aside from his speed and athleticism, Bosa has excellent hands with functional strength to fight off blocks, plus a burst to close, and he puts quarterbacks down hard. Bosa has developed technique and obviously has been working at his craft for years with his older brother. That development extends to the weight room, where Bosa has made himself extremely strong for his size. The Bosa brothers are very similar with relentless presence with speed, power, and physicality as pass-rushers. Nick Bosa has a real nose for the quarterback with instincts and natural feel. He should be a dynamic edge rusher in the NFL.

Bosa looks like a potential franchise defensive player as an edge rusher capable of producing double-digit sack seasons on an annual basis. He could be a player who goes to multiple Pro Bowls and is one of the most dangerous pass-rushers in the NFL. He definitely has boom potential for San Francisco.

2018: Mike McGlinchey, OT
2017: Akhello Witherspoon, CB
2016: DeForest Buckner, DE
2015: Arik Armstead, DE
2014: Carlos Hyde, RB
2013: Marcus Lattimore, RB

Future Depth Player

Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford – Round 6
The 49ers didn’t need a starting tight end with George Kittle in house, but adding some depth makes sense for two-tight end sets. Smith was an underrated prospect who was a really good player for Stanford. He slid in the 2019 NFL Draft because of a slow 40 time, but he doesn’t play slowly and could be a really nice backup tight end who turns into a good role player for San Francisco.

2018: Kentavius Street, DE
2017: Joe Williams, RB
2016: Jeff Driskel, QB
2015: Mike Davis, RB
2014: Bruce Ellington, WR
2013: Vance McDonald, TE

Walt’s 2019 NFL Draft Grades:

2. Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State A Grade
If you ask any NFL personnel man who the best player in the 2019 NFL Draft happens to be, they’ll give you one of two answers: Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams. The 49ers, as a result, are getting arguably the best player in the class at the No. 2 spot, and that particular prospect happens to fill a huge need. San Francisco’s edge rush has been non-existent in recent years, and Nick Bosa will definitely change that.

I think this pick deserves an “A” grade. The 49ers aren’t landing a steal with this choice, but they could’ve done stupid like trade down or pick a lesser player. Instead, they’ve helped themselves immensely as they make a run at the playoffs in 2019.

36. Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina B+ Grade
This is a very logical pick. Deebo Samuel was always expected to be chosen early in the second round, and the 49ers really need a receiver. They were in on the Antonio Brown sweepstakes at one point, but saw him go to the other Bay Area team. Samuel obviously isn’t Brown, but he’ll give San Francisco a considerable upgrade at the position across from Dante Pettis.

67. Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor C- Grade
Another receiver? I don’t get it. The 49ers have many other needs to address, so I don’t agree with two early choices being used on a wideout. I could understand it if Jalen Hurd happened to be a steal, but he’s not. He’s a terrific athlete, but happens to be a very raw route runner. He’s a project who should’ve been chosen in the fourth round.

110. Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah GENE SMITH Grade
Long ago, Jaguars general manager Gene Smith used a third-round pick on a punter. He passed on Russell Wilson in the process. This is a classic example of why you should never draft a punter prior to the seventh round. This is a wasted pick, and an easy “F.”

148. Dre Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas C- Grade
I had Dre Greenlaw as a fringe draftable prospect, mocking him in the seventh round. Greenlaw has great instincts, so it’s a shame that he’s small and very unathletic. Greenlaw will have to work hard to make the 53-man roster. Perhaps he can help on special teams.

176. Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford B+ Grade
Kaden Smith should not have declared as a redshirt sophomore. He needed to prove that he can stay healthy, as he has an extensive injury history. Instead, Smith had a poor pre-draft process, struggling with his testing numbers at the combine. Additionally, Smith never developed as a blocker, so it’s hardly a surprise that he dropped to the sixth round. Still, he provides decent value here, as I had him going at the end of the fourth round in my mock.

183. Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt D Grade
This is definitely a reach. I didn’t have Justin Skule in my top-500 players, and he never once appeared in any of my weekly mock drafts. The 49ers could’ve gotten Skule as a UDFA or in the seventh round.

198. Tim Harris, CB/S, Virginia B Grade
Tim Harris is a versatile defensive back who can play cornerback and safety. He’s talented, but has an extensive injury history. He had to take two medical redshirts at Virginia. Harris could develop into a good backup if he can stay healthy, but that’s a big “if.”

2019 NFL Draft Team Grade: B- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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