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NFL Draft

Re-Grading 49ers’ 2018-2020 NFL Drafts

  • The Draft Network
  • July 3, 2021
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Take a quick glance around the NFL. If you’ve followed the proceedings of roster construction over the last couple of seasons, you’d find a distinct fingerprint within the league’s 32 clubs… one of Kyle Shanahan and the herculean-rooted Shanahan tree of building a successful franchise.

Some of the top rosters in football; specifically the Los Angeles Rams and Green Bay Packers, have become elite contenders by following the principles of Shanahan and San Francisco 49ers brass in its entirety. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better cycle of drafts over the past four seasons (2021 excluded) as the tandem of Shanahan and John Lynch have used the annual event as a constant re-tooling effort to further supply one of the most loaded units of talent professional football has to offer. 

For a further look into the 49ers’ past draft success, let’s recap Lynch’s last three drafts, allowing us to lift the cover and truly identify how and why many believe the NFC could run through San Francisco come the turn of the New Year. 

2020 Draft Class

Round 1: Javon Kinlaw, DT

Round 1: Brandon Aiyuk, WR

Round 5: Colton McKivitz, OT

Round 6: Charlie Woerner, TE

Round 7: Jauan Jennings, WR

Although they had just five selections, the 49ers went 2/2 with two home runs on their first-round selections in Kinlaw and Aiyuk, as both proved beyond their years in 2020, providing loads of optimism as they near their sophomore seasons. Kinlaw’s 53% snap total will surely rise, as will Aiyuk’s role whether it’s Jimmy Garoppolo under center or third-overall selection Trey Lance

There wasn’t much to highlight via Lynch’s day-three targets, but McKivitz was serviceable in his three starts, accruing zero flags in 301 snaps.

Grade: A

2019 Draft Class

Round 1: Nick Bosa, EDGE

Round 2: Deebo Samuel, WR

Round 3: Jalen Hurd, WR

Round 4: Mitch Wisnowsky, P

Round 5: Dre Greenlaw, LB

Round 6: Kaden Smith, TE

Round 6: Justin Skule, OT

Round 6: Tim Harris, CB

Where do I start? 

A generational talent off the edge, the league is a better place when Bosa is healthy. A dynamic combo of power, fluidity, and speed as a 5-tech, Bosa, the 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year, has every tool in the box and more in the shed to offer as the anchor up front for San Francisco. If he’s able to elongate his career by staying on the football field, he has the chance to become one of the most dominant defensive athletes the game has to offer. 

Offensively, Samuel needs no introduction. A “take your lunch” type of receiver, Samuel had a down year two, but so did the entire 49ers roster as it was ravaged by injury. Much is expected in year three pairing with Aiyuk and Richie James, as Samuel’s veteran presence will serve as one of the top targets in Shanahan’s ever-developing offense.

As good as Bosa and Samuel have been, Greenlaw has been the surprise of the class, as his arrival on the weak side has developed into one of the top tackling linebackers in the league. Yes, he missed time too in 2020, but you wouldn’t have noticed if you just checked the box score. Greenlaw totaled 86 tackles and seven TFLs in just 13 games, proving to be the diamond in the day-three rough for Lynch. However, his skill set as a sideline-to-sideline defender, similar to Fred Warner, is what doesn’t show up on the postgame report. He’s everywhere within the 49ers second-level; attacking gaps, working in coverage, everything first-year defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans eyes in his core, he has in Greenlaw and Warner. 

Oh, did I mention Mitch Wisnowsky has developed into a top-10 punter? Yeah, you could say it was a pretty solid haul.

Draft Grade: A+

2018 Draft Class

Round 1: Mike McGlinchey, OT

Round 2: Dante Pettis, WR

Round 3: Fred Warner, LB

Round 3: Tarvarius Moore, S

Round 4: Kentavius Street, DT

Round 5: D.J. Reed, CB

Round 6: Marcell Harris, S

Round 7: Jullian Taylor, DT

Round 7: Richie James, WR

Outside of Street, every player listed has made an impact. From a fundamental standpoint, you can’t ask for more as we scope the class entering their fourth season. From the first to the seventh round, San Francisco addressed need—despite Dante Pettis now elsewhere.

For McGlinchey and Warner, they undoubtedly headline the class. Warner, a former product out of BYU, is simply a pleasure to study. A blend of both your 70s downhill thumper and your modern sideline-to-sideline talent, he’s able to identify coverages with ease, allowing him to dominate from week to week. An impending free agent following this season, I don’t see him escaping the Bay without a bag to his name.

Further down the line, James, once looked upon as a seventh-round flier, has progressed into one of the most productive pass-catchers in his class. Along with his ability to pop on special teams, he’s a sneaky pick to lead the 49ers in vertical targets as his 4.4 speed is awfully hard to ignore serving as a unique chess piece within Shanahan’s offense.

I love the depth the 49ers added here. 

Draft Grade: A-

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