Football Memo

NFC West Draft Grades: San Francisco 49ers

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Jimmie Ward is among the most underrated players in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Jimmie Ward was among the most underrated players in the 2014 NFL Draft.

San Francisco 49ers
Analysis:
Jimmie Ward was one of my favorite players in this entire draft. I had him rated 16th overall, and as the top safety available. He doesn’t possess ideal size, but Ward has everything you look for in a defensive back. He has rare instincts for the position, and reminds me of Ed Reed and Earl Thomas. The Niners could use Ward at safety, but also as a slot corner. The Niners have a stout defense, but could use more playmakers in the secondary. Ward, immediately improves this area, and should make an impact as a rookie. The Niners continued to add value and talent with the remainder of their draft. Carlos Hyde (Second round) is a bit of a luxury pick for the Niners, who couldn’t pass on the big, talented, all-purpose back. Hyde joins the fray at running back with Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, LaMichael James and Marcus Lattimore. Where Hyde fits in 2014 is anyone’s guess, but he’ll likely eventually be the workhorse back within a few seasons. The Niners continued their run of great selections in the third and fourth rounds. They upgraded the interior offensive line with the selections of center Marcus Martin and guard Brandon Thomas in the third round. Martin could contribute immediately at center or possibly guard, while Thomas could be redshirted due to injury, but eventually could be a steal for the Niners. Linebacker Chris Borland also was added in the third. Borland gives the Niners insurance should all-pro Navorro Bowman need time in his recovery from major knee surgery. Borland also provides versatility at the position. He can play the middle, but also is a decent pass rusher. San Francisco, then absolutely stole receiver Bruce Ellington at No. 106 overall. Ellington should’ve been a second-round selection, and provides a tough, developing receiver to the offense. I also liked the selections of defensive ends Aaron Lynch (5th round) and Kaleb Ramsey (7th round). The Niners had a very good draft. They did a great job fine-tuning need areas, and adding talent that will help in a few seasons.
Grade: A-

San Francisco 49ers – 2014 Draft Selections
1 (30) Jimmie Ward, DB, Northern Illinois
2 (57) Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State
3 (70) Marcus Martin, C, Southern Cal
3 (77) Chris Borland, LB, Wisconsin
3 (100) Brandon Thomas, G, Clemson
4 (106) Bruce Ellington, WR, South Carolina
4 (129) Dontae Johnson, DB, N.C. State
5 (150) Aaron Lynch, DE, South Florida
5 (170) Keith Reaser, DB, FAU
6 (180) Kenneth Acker, DB, SMU
7 (243) Kaleb Ramsey, DE, Boston College
7 (245) Trey Millard, RB, Oklahoma

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