General manager John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan and did a great job of keeping quiet about the quarterback the San Francisco 49ers were most interested in with the third overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.
Yet now it’s time to take a look at the grades for the 49ers for their selections.
At no.3 overall San Francisco took quarterback Trey Lance. This is a great pick for the franchise he has tremendous upside and his ability to run with the football adds another dimension to Shanahan’s offense. Since he is so raw he won’t start in 2021, Jimmy Garoppolo will remain the starter for at least another year.
Lance will then get to learn the nuances from Garoppolo who took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2019.
Overall Grade: A+
With the 48th overall pick San Francisco took guard Aaron Banks out of Notre Dame.
The pick of Banks still seems a bit of a stretch for the 49ers though he fits their system well. He helped the Fighting Irish dominate with running the football in 2020 and was first-team Associated Press All-American and first-steam All-ACC. What is a bit concerning is that he struggles in pass protection, which is an area the 49ers have struggled in.
At the time there were better options for needs and Banks likely is available later in the draft as he got projected go anywhere from late second to the fourth round.
Overall grade: C
In a bit of a surprise with the 88th pick the 49ers went with Ohio State running back Trey Sermon. It’s a solid selection for the 49ers and adds a bigger back to their strong rotation already. He arguably was the most important offensive player in 2020 for the Buckeyes.
Sermon opened eyes with his performance against Northwestern to the tune of 331 yards and against Clemson ran for 193 yards. He was set to have another explosive game against Alabama, yet left the National Title game with an injury after one carry.
Also last season the 49ers struggled with injuries at running back with Raheem Mostert only appearing in eight games and Jeff Wilson Jr in 12. Tevin Coleman also missed time which meant Jerick McKinnon and JaMycal Hasty saw time in the backfield with both struggling to pick up yardage.
Overall grade: A
At 102 the 49ers took talented cornerback Ambry Thomas out of Michigan. He sat out the 2020 season. 2019 was his best season when he intercepted three passes and recorded 38 tackles with three for loss, three passes defended, and two fumble recoveries.
With Emmanuel Moseley and Jason Verrett at cornerback, Thomas will likely make an impact on special teams. The one concerning thing about Thomas is his tackling ability.
Overall grade: B+
Jaylon Moore got taken with the 155th pick out of Western Michigan. Like former 49ers offensive tackle Joe Staley, he played basketball in high school. So there’s no questions about his athleticism.
At this point it seems that Moore got taken to compete for the swing tackle role. He may also end up being the replacement to Mike McGlinchey if his fifth year option is not picked up by San Francisco.
Overall grade: B
There were reports recently of Richard Sherman coming back to the 49ers. It doesn’t seem like that will happen after the 49ers took Deommodore Lenoir with the 172nd pick.
Leonoir started all four seasons at Oregon. He’s a solid tackler and his best season came in 2018 when he recorded 52 tackles, three interceptions, and nine passes defended. Also he’s durable as he never missed a game.
He finished his college career with 158 tackles, six interceptions, 21 passes defended, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery.
Overall grade: B
With the 180th pick the 49ers took safety Talanoa Hufanga out of USC. He did deal with some injuries prior to 2020, yet he was healthy this season. He was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
Hufanga recorded 62 tackles with 5.5 tackles for loss, three sacks, four interceptions, two forced fumbles, and one pass defended. In only 10 games in 2019 he recorded 90 tackles with 7.5 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks, three passes defended, and two forced fumbles.
He’ll likely start the season on special teams. He may end up seeing playing time as Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski have been injury prone.
Overall grade: B+
The 49ers last pick of the draft was no.194 and the selection was Elijah Mitchell a running back out of Louisiana. In 10 games in 2020 he ran for 878 yards on 141 carries. He averaged 6.2 yards per carry and finished with eight touchdowns.
His best season came in 2019 when he carried the ball 198 times for 1,147 yards, averaged 5.8 yards per carry and finished with 16 rushing touchdowns. He wasn’t utilized much in the passing game as he caught 49 passes in four seasons.
If Mitchell is to make an impact it’s likely as a returner.
Overall grade: C-
San Francisco strengthened their offensive line with the selections of Banks and Moore, added depth in the secondary with Thomas, Lenoir, and Hufanga, added depth at running back which struggled with injuries last season, and more importantly added an incredible talent at quarterback in Lance.
It was a solid draft for the 49ers and arguably their best since Lynch took over as general manager.
Overall grade for the entire draft: B+