The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a 2013 draft that thus far looks to be a home run of potential. It's too early to accurately grade it, but Week 1 will see Eric Reid start at free safety, Corey Lemonier likely in the outside linebacker rotation, Quinton Patton potentially contributing at wide receiver and B.J. Daniels looking solid as a third string QB. Not too shabby.
Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the 49ers 2012 draft class. The team has done what they could to salvage it, but it is the nasty sandwich meat between two excellent pieces of bread!
I bring this up now because Kyle Bonagura tweeted out (and Matt Maiocco confirmed) that a league source informed him the 49ers were going to release safety Trenton Robinson. The 49ers drafted Robinson in the sixth round last year, and he is now the third player entirely off the roster. He joins the recently traded WR A.J. Jenkins, and previously released OL Jason Slowey. Although the 49ers did get Jon Baldwin in the trade for Jenkins, in just looking at the players from the draft class, it's generally disappointing.
The rest of the class is a mish-mash of potential and injuries. LaMichael James was productive once he got onto the active game-day roster, showing great athleticism as a running back and as a kick returner. He is currently dealing with a sprained MCL that is expected to keep him out 3-4 weeks.
Cam Johnson is coming off a strong preseason, during which Vic Fangio has described him as incredibly improved compared to last season. He spent much of 2012 on the practice squad, but is now coming off a preseason performance for the ages against the Chargers.
Joe Looney has been rotating along the interior of the offensive line, behind Jonathan Goodwin and Daniel Kilgore at center, and behind Alex Boone at right guard. He was inactive all last season as he recovered from a foot injury. His preseason was less than stellar, but he likely gets at least another year with the team.
Darius Fleming was drafted as an outside linebacker, but spent all last season on injured reserve with a knee injury. He was moved to inside linebacker this offseason, but re-injured his knee and is back on injured reserve.
The 49ers appear to have bounced back with a strong 2013 draft, but they cannot afford this many potential misfires in the draft. The salary cap will always be an issue, and the draft is the best way to fight through it. Paraag Marathe can re-work veteran contracts all he wants, but the wholesale nature of the draft provides the team with the kind of cost-savings that can keep this party going.