The San Francisco 49ers had the most picks entering the 2013 NFL Draft on Thursday (13). With arguably the most talented roster in the NFL, you had to assume they would be very active and not use all 13 picks which is exactly what they did. The Niners ended up making 11 selections and moving up and down the draft board that also included acquiring an extra third round pick in 2014 – which you have to include in their draft grade along with the acquisitions of Anquan Boldin and Colt McCoy for late round picks.
49ers General Manager Trent Baalke has made a huge impact in the short time he’s been the GM, and this was his most important draft. With 13 total picks, Baalke could be defined by how well this draft pans out. Having the most picks and a team on the precipice of a championship, the 49ers must win now and look toward the future. Baalke did not disappoint as he filled holes with talented players and picked players with injured pasts but huge upsides.
In the first round, the Niners traded up with the Dallas Cowboys to select S Eric Reid out of LSU. Coming off a down year, Reid was widely considered the second best safety in the draft and will be expected to take over for Dashon Goldson.
After the 49ers vaunted defense was exposed in the playoffs, many assumed that the secondary was the culprit. But as evidenced by the 49ers’ draft, they thought the pass rush was the group that needed an upgrade. In the second round, the 49ers traded back and selected DE Tank Carradine — who is coming off an ACL tear, but has first round talent — to eventually take over for Justin Smith (contract year, 34 years old) and in the third round selected OLB Corey Lemonier to be a situational pass rusher to spell Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks.
San Francisco also upgraded the passing game with second round selection of TE Vance McDonald who will be groomed to be the second tight end behind Vernon Davis and replace departed Delanie Walker. Fourth round pick WR Quinton Patton can immediately step in as the third receiver. Patton burst onto the national scene with a monster game against Texas A&M where he had 21 catches, 200+ yards and four TDs.
In a move that also acquired their third first round talent, they selected RB Marcus Lattimore who everyone knows for his devastating knee injury. Lattimore says he is three months away from being able to put on pads, but he is not needed this year for the 49ers and can redshirt if the Niners don’t feel like he can contribute fully.
In the later rounds, the 49ers selected DL Quinton Dial who will be a rotational defensive lineman and LB Nick Moody to backup Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman as well as play special teams. In the seventh round, the Niners chose QB B.J. Daniels to be a Swiss army knife that can play QB, return kicks and play running back in a crunch. They also snagged OT Carter Bykowski and a CB named Marcus Cooper, who on name alone deserves a shot on any NFL roster just so we can say we were “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper”
The 49ers were able to fill all their major holes (S, DL, TE, WR) and were able to look towards the future. Trent Baalke deserves a lot of credit for having a plan, sticking to it and addressing needs and picking the best players available. AND GETTING MR. COOPER!
Final Draft Grade: A