After the pathetic performance of 2020, the fans of the 49ers were waiting for a small miracle to happen. And after some fantastic moves in the free agent market, the front office made an unexpected (and controversial) trade to acquire the third pick of the 2021 draft.
That was the point when fans realized that 2020 was the end of the Jimmy Garoppolo era and that Kyle Shanahan wants to go into a different direction. It seemed like Shanahan made everyone believe that the 49ers wanted Mac Jones, which made most of us question if their mind is clear. Then the day came, Jed York went crazy and Shanahan (finally) did the right thing.
Let's jump to the grades!
Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State, Pick #3
After all the smokescreens, Kyle and Co. made the right decision and drafted the biggest, strongest, smartest and most mature of the available quarterback prospects. We can agree he'll need some time to get ready for the NFL but, if Shanahan and the other coaches can prepare him to be a starter, this young man can be the next Patrick Mahomes or maybe better.
It's a huge "A" from me.
Aaron Banks, OG, Notre Dame, trade, Pick #48
We all can agree that Aaron Banks was a reach, right?
Most of us thought he will be a Day 3 pick mainly because of his raw technique and lack of athleticism. He's not the kind of offense the 49ers were looking for in the past. He won't fit into Shanahan's zone blocking scheme as a guard.
But what if we twist things around and think of him as a future offensive tackle for the 49ers? The guy is tough, has excellent strength and is an exceptional pass blocker. I'm sure that he can be a great replacement of Mike McGlinchey in the long term. Just watch his tape.
If we think of him as a starter at guard, Shanahan must recalibrate his offense. But if we look at him as a future tackle he can be a great fit for this offense. In the future, he'll be a tackle -- mark my words.
For me this Pick is a "C-" , but it can easily be a "B" if they drafted him to be a future tackle for the team.
Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio state, trade, Pick #88
We were in the third round where the team needs were mostly on the defensive side of the ball. We had a big reach in the second round so we all were waiting for a cornerback or at least for a Z type wide receiver.
But Shanahan and John Lynch said 'no' and drafted Trey Sermon from Ohio State. Again, not the kind of running back the 49ers preferred the past few years but trust me, the guy is a future star in the NFL. He is tough, strong, big and fast. He's a power runner with great speed and soft hands. He is the typical three-down back this team was secretly looking for.
Although Raheem Mostert is a monster when he is healthy, since he is our leading running back on the depth chart we should be concerned about him being injury prone. Because he had injuries in the past almost every year and he isn't getting younger. He is close to 30 which is usually a turning point when we are talking about running backs.
So here is Sermon, who I think was the real star in the Buckeyes offense. The only flaw he has is that he is not a great pass protector, but I think he has time to polish his blocking skills.
For me this pick is a "B-" because there are more important positions that need support, but we added great talent to the offense.
Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan, Pick #102
Finally, a cornerback.
This is the pick I like the most. Prototypical size, great speed and a smart player. The only thing that could be a problem is that Thomas decided not to play in 2020. I'm sure that he will be rusty this season, but he could be a great steal if things work out. The team can use him as a nickel as well, but I think they drafted him to play on the outside of the field.
It's an "A-" because finally we drafted for a much needed position, but we missed out some really great prospects in previous rounds.
Jaylon Moore, OL, Western Michigan, Pick #155
A tight end converted to be an offensive tackle. Familiar story, right?
Moore was a great starting tackle in college who could be a guard as well. I think he is a bit undersized but that's not my main problem with this pick. The thing that worries me the most, is that most of the experts agree that one of his biggest flaws is that he spends too much time on the ground.
Familiar again, right?
I see him as a guard in the NFL and I'm pretty sure we drafted him to add some depth into the line, I doubt that he will be a starter next season.
I like this pick because it seems like the team realized that the offensive line is their weak spot, but I think they could have use this pick to draft a WR, which is a need too.
It's a "B-" for me.
Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon, Pick #172
A cornerback again, but not the kind we needed. Deommodore will be a slot at his best although he was on the outside during his college career. He is a bit small when we compare him to the prototypical cornerbacks in the NFL, but he is a versatile player who has some potential. I don't see him as a real upgrade for the 49ers but at worst he will be a special teamer, which needed some upgrade as well.
In my opinion it's a "C+" . Nickel will be a need next year, but this season the team should have concentrated on outside corners.
Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC, Pick #180
One of my favorite picks this year's NFL draft. Hufanga wont be a coverage mastermind, he probably won't be a ball hawk, but this guy can be one of the greatest box safeties in the league since Kam Chancellor. He is physical and plays at his best when he is close to line of scrimmage, where he looks more like a linebacker for me.
My only problem with him is that I see him more like a specialist against short passing, run heavy offenses where he can play as a dime or as a Will linebacker. I don't think he can be a true replacement of Tartt or Ward but he is a great addition for sure, which is worth a "B" grade.
Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana, Pick #194
I was born in 1992, so I wasn't even a plan in my parents' minds the last time the 49ers selected two running backs in the same draft in 1991. After 30 years, they did it again and for me this is the only "what the heck" pick this year from the 49ers.
They drafted two backs with different styles to a position where there weren't needs after selecting Sermon. Mitchell is a speedster (4.33 at 40 yards dash) but he doesn't seem that fast during a game. He's got great acceleration and he attacks the hole, but on longer runs he doesn't really separate which is a flaw if we compare him to the other three running backs this team has.
To be honest, I don't see Mitchell as a member of the team in September.
The worth of this pick is a "D" for me.
If I must give an overall grade, it makes thing harder then just giving grades for every single prospect they drafted. Kyle and Co. chose the right guy in my opinion to be the future quarterback of the team, they improved their O-line on the long and short term which was a must as I mentioned so many times before, but I don't really see improvement in the cornerback position and although the 49ers lost their fourth target in the passing game, they didn't draft anyone to fill Bourne's spot. I respect their confidence in Jalen Hurd and River Cracraft, but Hurd didn't play in the past 2 years and if Cracraft will be a starter for this team next season that could be the greatest joke of all time. Overall the front office did a decent job that I appreciate. That's why it's a weak "B" for me.
Being a 49ers fans right now feels great baby!