The San Francisco 49ers are not wasting any time on addressing their weaknesses. After taking LSU safety Eric Reid in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft, the team added FSU defensive end Cornellius “Tank” Carradine (40th-overall pick), Rice tight end Vance McDonald (55th-overall), Auburn defensive end Corey Lemonier (88th-overall).
Two major areas of concern surrounding Carradine are his health and experience. He has shown flashes of first-round talent, but a torn ACL towards the end of his senior season caused his stock to fall. Playing behind Bjoern Werner and Brandon Jenkins, Carradine collected only 12 career starts in Tallahassee.
But in those starts, Carradine amassed 11 sacks and 80 tackles. Playing at full strength, he has been very productive despite sitting third on the depth chart. While he possesses a nice blend of speed and power, his greatest attribute is his relentless motor. It is safe to say that defensive coordinator Vic Fangio won’t have to worry about effort.
Overall, general manager Trent Baalke got excellent value here. If the former Seminole puts his ACL injury aside, the 49ers will feature a dynamic passing-rushing tandem as he pairs up alongside Aldon Smith.
Apparently the 49ers were not satisfied with the lone addition of Carradine, as they selected Lemonier late in the third round. Much like Carradine, the Auburn product has a high motor, consistently playing to the whistle. Lemonier’s versatility allows him to stand up at linebacker and attack quarterbacks from different areas.
But due to his 6’3”, 255-pound frame, bigger, skilled tackles can bully Lemonier. He also has a tendency to overrun plays and mistime the snap count. If Fangio can harness his focus, Lemonier’s energy will help spark the 49ers’ pass-rushing woes.
On offense, San Francisco hopes to replace the recently departed Delanie Walker with McDonald. During his senior season at Rice, McDonald tallied 36 catches for 458 yards and two touchdowns. The 6’4’’, 267-pound tight end was used primarily as a slot receiver, and that will likely be his role right from the start as a pro. Given his length and physical measurements, McDonald could use his size to create matchup problems for opposing defenses. He’ll provide Colin Kaepernick with another red-zone target.
Jim Harbaugh likes versatile players in his offense, and McDonald fits the bill from a receiving standpoint. However, his blocking can improve. As he matures, that area should only get better with coaching and refinement.
The 49ers’ front office had a productive day in the second and third rounds of the draft. They addressed their needs and filled those spots with players who should provide some immediate impact.
There are still four more rounds of action, but San Francisco is off to an encouraging start.