The San Francisco 49ers built around quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo early in the NFL draft Jared Goff Jersey , then used the rest of their nine selections to fortify defense and fill needs in their push to become a legitimate playoff contender.
After adding both a protector and deep threat for Garoppolo with their first two picks, the 49ers used each of their first four selections Saturday to grab prospects who can bolster a defense that ranked 24th in the NFL last season.
”Really feel we got better as a football team,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said Saturday. ”We got guys we wanted to come out of this draft with. We came out pretty well in terms of what we wanted to accomplish and are very proud of what we did.”
In their first season under Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan last year, the 49ers won their final five games to finish 6-10 after acquiring Garoppolo near midseason.
San Francisco signed Garoppolo to a $137.5 million contract extension in February, then added key free agents on offense during March before drafting Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey in the first round Thursday, and moving up in the second round Friday to select Washington receiver Dante Pettis.
The 49ers then turned their focus to defense through the next four rounds, selecting BYU linebacker Fred Warner, North Carolina State end Kentavius Street, and defensive backs Tarvarius Moore of Southern Mississippi, D.J. Reed of Kansas State and Marcell Harris of Florida.
San Francisco selected another defender Charles Haley Jersey , Temple lineman Jullian Taylor, with its first seventh-round pick before taking Middle Tennessee State wide receiver Richie James with its final pick.
”We’re in Year 2 of our program, and it’s going to be tougher to make our team,” Shanahan said. ”It was much harder this year to pick guys on the (later) days that we thought can make our football team. We drafted guys that have a chance to do that.”
Here are some other takeaways from the draft:
The 49ers failed miserably earlier this decade with former GM Trent Baalke using several high draft picks to select prospects coming off significant injuries who never panned out after sitting out their rookie seasons. San Francisco took another chance in the fourth round Saturday on Street, who sustained a torn ACL during a pre-draft workout and had surgery earlier this month. He’s unlikely to contribute this season.
”We’re not trying to make popular picks, we’re trying to make good picks,” Lynch said. ”And we’re very convicted that this was just that.”
Two picks later, the 49ers selected Harris, who missed the entire season last year after tearing his Achilles tendon during Florida’s fall camp.
PLAYMAKER ON THE PREMISES?
On a conference call after being selected in the fifth round, Reed was describing his game to reporters when he was abruptly interrupted by the man who drafted him.
”I’m a playmaker Randy Bullock Jersey , man.” Reed said, before Lynch suddenly appeared in San Francisco’s media room and blurted out, ”That’s what I’m talking about, D.J.!”
Reed ranked second in the Big 12 last season with four interceptions and was third in the conference with 13 passes defensed. He led the Big 12 with 19 passes defensed while earning the conference’s Defensive Newcomer of the Year honors in 2016.
EXPLOSIVE AND DYNAMIC
Pettis and Reed are expected to help the 49ers in the slot on both sides of the football – Pettis as a receiver, Reed defending slot receivers – but each also brings another dynamic to the team.
They were two of the most explosive return specialists in college football last season and could add an immediate boost to San Francisco’s return game.
Pettis set an NCAA record with nine career punt returns for touchdowns, averaging 14.2 yards on 90 career returns. Reed ran back a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown and a punt 62 yards for a score last season, when he averaged 34.2 yards returning kicks and 14.9 yards returning punts.
MANNING THE MIDDLE
Of the six defenders selected by San Francisco, Warner could find himself making the biggest immediate impact and also filling the biggest immediate role.
That will be determined in the months to come as the 49ers await the fate of Reuben Foster, who is facing three felony charges in a domestic violence case. Foster, who finished second on the team last year in tackles despite missing six games Antonio Morrison Jersey , also could be facing a league suspension of six or more games.
The 49ers entered both free agency and the draft this year with an impact edge pass rusher as perhaps their biggest need. They failed to address that, opting to pass on the premier edge prospects with their top two picks. The closest San Francisco came to adding help on the defensive edge is Street, who had 3 1/2 sacks in 13 games last season.
The Raiders took their left tackle of the future, Kolton Miller, with the 15th overall pick in this year’s draft. Their left tackle of the present wasn’t pleased.
Donald Penn, the 35-year-old who has manned the left tackle spot in Oakland the last four years, called coach Jon Gruden and demanded to know why they would use their first-round pick on a player whose likely role will be to replace Penn some day.
鈥淚鈥檓 not going to lie, as soon as I saw the draft pick, I called Gruden immediately. Like 鈥榤an, what the f–k?鈥?鈥?Penn said on Michael Rapoport鈥檚 podcast. 鈥淗e didn鈥檛 answer Kerryon Johnson Jersey , but when I saw him the next Monday, he was joking with me saying, 鈥榊ou were ready to kick my ass, huh, Donald?! You were mad as a motherf–ker!鈥欌€?/p>
The Raiders would then draft another offensive tackle, Brandon Parker, in the third round. So it’s clear that they want to get younger at the position. But Gruden appears to have placated Penn by persuading him that the Raiders’ draft picks were about keeping a good offensive line in front of Derek Carr for many years to come, not about any sign that they’re losing confidence in Penn this year. Penn now says he’s working on taking the young tackles under his wing and hoping that some day, they’ll protect Carr as well as he does. Just not quite yet.
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