San Francisco 49ers Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Jake Moody, K, Michigan – Round 3
Aside from the rare exception for a rare player who is a true special teams weapon, I am not a believer in teams using draft picks on kickers, punters and long-snappers. Quality players at those positions can be found on the street. Obviously, the 49ers felt that Moody was one of those exceptions given that they used a second-day pick to land him.

Over the past two seasons, Moody was very reliable for Michigan. In 2021, he connected on 23-of-25 – 92 percent – with a long of 52 yards. In 2022, he showed some leg strength, making a 59-yard field goal while hitting on 29-of-35 field goal attempts. Given his consistency in college kicking in a tougher environment, Moody looks like a safe pick to be a quality starter for the 49ers.

2022: Danny Gray, WR
2021: Trey Lance, QB
2020: Jauan Jennings, WR
2019: Deebo Samuel, WR
2018: 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

Thanks to not having a first-round pick from the Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey trades, the 49ers ended up having only one pick in the top-90 selections. Players drafted that low not panning out does not make for a true bust because many prospects have future backup grades at that point of a draft. Thus, I really don’t see a pick who is most likely to be a true bust from San Francisco’s 2023 draft class.

2022: None
2021: Ambry Thomas, CB
2020: Brandon Aiyuk, WR
2019: Jalen Hurd, WR
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

The 49ers only had only one pick in the top-90 selections during the 2023 NFL Draft due to previous trades. I think that Penn State safety Ji’Air Brown could turn into a solid starter, but I do not see a potential boom pick with any of San Francisco’s 2023 mid-round selections.

2022: Drake Jackson, DE
2021: Aaron Banks, G
2020: Javon Kinlaw, DT
2019: Nick Bosa, DE
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

Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama – Round 3
The 49ers have one of the best tight ends in the NFL with George Kittle, but they could use more talent behind him. Hence, Latu was a solid selection in the third round. Latu is not a force as a blocker, but he is a could be a secondary receiver who could do some damage with defenses focused on stopping Kittle and Deebo Samuel. While Latu may not have the skill set of a three-down starter, he could be a solid No. 2 tight end in the NFL.

2022: Tyrion Davis-Price, RB
2021: Trey Sermon, RB
2020: Colton McKivits, OT
2019: Kaden Smith, TE
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 2023 NFL Draft Grades:

87. Ji’Ayir Brown, S, Penn State – A+ Grade
I love Ji’Ayir Brown. He’s not the biggest or fastest safety, but he’s the most instinctive safety in this class. Because of that trait, he can start for the 49ers on Day 1, which is essential because San Francisco had a big need at the position.

99. Jake Moody, K, Michigan – D Grade
Kickers are not people, Rich Eisen. They are abominations. And they certainly should not be chosen in the third round. Fifth round, OK. Third round, no. The 49ers needed a real player and person here.

101. Cameron Latu, TE, Alabama – B- Grade
The 49ers wanted a second tight end to go along with George Kittle, so here we go. Cameron Latu has plus athleticism and size, but has a checkered injury history. He makes sense at the end of the third round in this loaded tight end class.

155. Darrell Luter, CB, South Alabama – B Grade
The 49ers needed cornerback depth, and Darrell Luter is someone I had slotted 12 picks later than this. Luter was excellent at South Alabama, but we’ll have to see how he performs with far better athletes.

173. Robert Beal, DE, Georgia – B- Grade
Robert Beal surprised a bit in his workouts, as there seemed to be limited upside with him. Perhaps he’ll surprise everyone in the NFL. I didn’t have him drafted, but this pick makes sense. The 49ers needed to add depth to their defensive front after losing some players in free agency.

216. Dee Winters, LB, TCU – B+ Grade
Dee Winters is a solid run defender who can stand to improve in coverage. I had Winters going in the fifth round, so this is decent value. Linebacker depth was a need, so I think this is a quality selection.

247. Brayden Willis, TE, Oklahoma – B+ Grade
Brayden Willis is undersized, but he’s an excellent blocker. It’s a fine time to draft blocking tight ends in the seventh round.

253. Ronnie Bell, WR, Michigan – B Grade
Ronnie Bell is a smart receiver with quality route-running ability. He’s a limited athlete, however, so there’s not much upside for the final round.

255. Jalen Graham, LB, Purdue – B- Grade
Jalen Graham is a small linebacker who struggles to tackle. He can cover well, but he’s going to be abused in run support. He may have to stick to special teams.

2023 NFL Draft Team Grade: B. Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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