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NFL Draft

San Francisco 49ers 2021 NFL Draft Class Breakdown

  • The Draft Network
  • May 4, 2021
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Before the 2021 NFL Draft, the 49ers executed a trade up to the No. 3 position. Then, they abruptly announced that they’d be selecting a quarterback. This launched an avalanche of speculation and theories. 

Who would they select? Which quarterback fits best in Kyle Shanahan’s system? What would they do with Jimmy Garoppolo? They effectively sent out a smokescreen that the selection would be Mac Jones, while many evaluators and media members ran with it. They were all wrong.

Let’s take a look back at their 2021 NFL Draft class:

Round 1: Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State

In past interviews, Shanahan talked about the flexibility he would have as a play-caller if he had a mobile quarterback—someone who could extend the play and move the chains with his legs. Lance is someone that doesn’t need the perfect play call. He could create something from nothing based on his physical ability. They kept Garoppolo and Lance is still only 20 years old, which means Garoppolo gets to start initially and audition for his next opportunity before Lance takes over.

Round 2: Aaron Banks, IOL, Notre Dame

The interior offensive line was an area of concern based on 2020. The 49ers have a serious need at right guard and Banks figures to get the first crack at a starting role. On the right side, he will align next to his former college teammate Mike McGlinchey. Banks isn’t a true scheme fit for what they’ve done offensively in the past. However, shoring up the interior offensive line with fresh, young bodies should upgrade their offensive line.

Round 3: Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State

San Francisco’s running back cupboard is bare. Sermon should get the opportunity to be the Day 1 starter. Sermon is a good decision-maker as a runner with the vision, footwork, and instinctive feel to be a 1,000-yard rusher in Shanahan’s running scheme. A good running game is a quarterback’s best friend. This was another selection investing in their new franchise QB. 

Round 3: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan

Losing Richard Sherman’s leadership along with the uncertainty that Jason Verrett will play a full season left cornerback depth atop their wish list. Thomas steps in and immediately becomes a contributor in subpackages and on special teams. He is an ideal fit for the Cover 3 scheme and has the speed and ball skills to be highly productive on this defense. 

Round 5: Jaylon Moore, OL, Western Michigan

Another investment for their newly acquired franchise QB. Moore figures to provide depth at the guard position. He started at left tackle at Western Michigan, which increases his chances of rostering based on game day numbers. He’s shown he has the footwork and lateral agility to play tackle, which should make his transition to guard a seamless one. 

Round 5: Deommodore Lenoir, CB, Oregon

K’Waun Williams could be in his final year in San Francisco. Lenoir has the physicality and instinctive feel to eventually compete for time as the nickel slot. He will play special teams initially and it would not surprise me to see him in dime situations. At 200 pounds, he has the physicality as a tackler and the short-area agility to play inside as a nickel.

Round 5: Talanoa Hufanga, SAF, USC

Hufanga should provide immediate depth on defense as well as four-phase core special teams ability from Day 1. He proved that he can be a contributor in the passing game this past season. However, he has always been revered for his physicality and tackling and he’ll have the opportunity down the road to be a significant contributor on defense

Round 6: Elijah Mitchell, RB, Louisiana

Mitchell is another depth selection at a position of need. Mitchell has good size while also bringing an element of explosive speed to the running back room. He was highly productive on offense in college, but also possesses the size, agility, and speed to make the roster by way of special teams.

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