If you’ve missed them, be sure to check out the 2010, 2011, and 2012 redrafts as well. Explanation of the parameters of the redraft can be found in the 2010 redraft. Simply put, I narrowed the field for each pick by looking at the picks made after the 49ers given pick, but before their next pick.
What looked to be a strong, promising 49ers’ draft class at the time doesn’t hold up quite as well two years later. It’s still too early to give up on many of these players, but as we enter the 2015 Draft, the 2013 class still has far more questions than answers. Let’s take a closer look at some of those question marks while taking a peak at some of the other players available at the time.
Round 1 (18th overall): S Eric Reid, LSU
Safeties are rarely worthy of first-round selections. But after finally allowing Dashon Goldson to leave in free agency, the 49ers were in need of a replacement entering a draft that many draftniks considered to be loaded with quality players at the position. While most of those prospects have failed to live up to expectations, Reid has arguably been the best of the class.
You don’t frequently hear Reid’s name called on gameday — typically a good thing for safeties — but he’s been an improvement over Goldson from the moment he stepped on the field. Reid’s versatility fit perfectly in Vic Fangio’s defense, as the 49ers have used their safeties interchangably, requiring them to come up and fill the alleys in the run game while also dropping back in deep half or quarters coverage. He’s capable of being an enforcer over the middle of the field but is more under control and doesn’t take as many chances as a player like Goldson.
Reid was named to the Pro Bowl in his rookie season, and though he plateaued a little bit in year two, he’s been among the most consistent players taken in the first round of this class.
Redraft Pick: DL Sharrif Floyd, Florida
It’s difficult going against Reid with this pick, especially considering the hole at safety if he’s not there. But with the benefit of hindsight, the number of concussions Reid has already suffered as a pro is concerning. After Chris Borland’s surprise retirement, you have to at least wonder how long Reid sticks around if he were to suffer another concussion. That’s enough to make me look for Justin Smith’s eventual replacement a bit earlier than Baalke did in this draft.
Floyd struggled during his rookie season, but really blossomed in 2014, finishing the season as one of Pro Football Focus’ highest-graded defensive tackles. He’s one of those players capable of playing defensive tackle in a 4–3 or defensive end in a 3–4. Considering the amount in which the 49ers have varied their fronts on defense — not to mention getting a chance to develop playing behind Smith and learning from Jim Tomsula — I have no worries about Floyd’s fit in San Francisco’s defense.
Round 2 (40th overall): DE Tank Carradine, Florida State
The charter member of the All-ACL Team, Carradine has struggled to develop through two professional seasons. Carradine was highly touted coming out of Florida State despite just one full season as a starter, and many considered him to be a talent worth taking in the top half of the first round. However, the torn ACL that ended his final college season caused him to slip and the value at no. 40 was too much for Baalke to pass up.
After redshirting his rookie season, Carradine was unable to find his way on the field until the second half of the 2014 season. He finished the year with 146 snaps, most of which came in San Francisco’s final five games of the season. Carradine flashed the pass rushing ability that made him such a disruptive college player — he recorded three sacks in the final three games — but too often allowed himself to get pushed around at the point of attack in the run game.
Expectations for Carradine will rise dramatically in year three. Ray McDonald’s release late last season and Justin Smith’s pending retirement leaves some big shoes to fill at defensive end, and Carradine will be asked to pick up the majority of the slack. 2015 will be the season in which Tank must prove he was worth the risk.
Redraft Pick: RB Le’Veon Bell, Michigan State
There’s no reason to go with the unknown of Carradine after selecting Floyd in the first round, so we’ll grab Frank Gore’s heir apparent instead. Bell is a big, all-purpose back and one of the few capable of being a true feature back in the NFL. You’re surely familiar with his ability as a runner, but he’s also an excellent receiver out of the backfield and is effective in pass protection, so there’s no need to take him off the field on third downs.
With Frank Gore still around, it’s obviously unlikely that Bell would’ve put up the gaudy numbers he produced in Pittsburgh had he been selected here. But he would forced more of a timeshare in 2014 than Carlos Hyde did, and would give the 49ers a top-flight option to turn the keys over to in 2015.
Round 2 (55th overall): TE Vance McDonald, Rice
McDonald’s career progression has been a bit strange considering how he was used in college. While at Rice, McDonald was used primarily split out as a receiver. Rarely was he asked to align as a traditional inline tight end or in the backfield as an H-back. Yet, that’s exactly what he’s spent most of his time doing with the 49ers.
McDonald’s contributions as a receiver have been nearly nonexistent through two seasons — he went from eight receptions in his rookie season to just eight targets a year ago. Part of that is due to injury — he missed eight games due to a variety of injuries in 2014 — but McDonald simply hasn’t had the impact as a receiver that you would have expected based on his college tape.
Considering he was rarely asked to do much from a blocking standpoint beyond manhandling much smaller defensive backs on the perimeter while at Rice, his development as a run blocker is impressive. But you don’t select blocking tight ends in the first two rounds of the draft, and it seems safe to say the 49ers wish they could have a mulligan with this selection considering this guy was still available…
Redraft Pick: TE Travis Kelce, Cincinnati
Selected just eight picks later at the top of the third round was the best tight end of his class. Kelce missed his entire rookie season after having microfracture surgery on his right knee, but he came back strong in his sophomore campaign and looked like one of the best tight ends in football at times.
Kelce is the complete package at tight end. He might not possess Vernon Davis’s speed — few do at this position obviously — but he can threaten the seam, make contested catches, and line up all over the formation. After the catch, he’s an absolute monster and frequently draws comparisons to Rob Gronkowski because of it.
Many would’ve have opted for Keenan Allen at this spot, and I certainly wouldn’t blame them. But with Vernon Davis starting to fade, Kelce has the potential to do more for the 49ers offense.
Round 3 (88th overall): OLB Corey Lemonier, Auburn
Lemonier got off to a very promising start as a rookie. He saw a significant chunk of snaps in the middle of the season while Aldon Smith was away from the team at rehab, and really flashed at times as a pass rusher. He would only record one sack in his first season, but he pressured the quarterback on over 20 percent of his pass rush snaps according to Pro Football Focus’ data. Lemonier showed a great first step, and looked good enough to prompt Vic Fangio to comment that he was further along in his development than Smith was at the same point two seasons earlier.
Things took a negative turn in year two for Lemonier. He got off to a terrible start to the 2014 season, and with the emergence of Aaron Lynch, he was out of the rotation altogether by Week 4. Lemonier would make his way back on to the field late in the season, but it was much of the same. He finished the year with just two quarterback hurries in 147 total snaps.
As Matt Waldman stressed to me on the Better Rivals podcast, it’s too early to give up on the potential Lemonier showed during his rookie campaign. But if he starts 2015 the way he began 2014, he might find himself out of opportunities.
Redraft Pick: OLB Corey Lemonier, Auburn
The cupboard is bare over the next 40 picks, so even though his impact has been limited through two seasons, Lemonier remains the pick here.
Round 4 (128th overall): WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Patton’s time on the field has been limited through two seasons. The General has seen just 151 snaps due to a comination of factors — an offense that’s used multi-receiver sets less than just about every other team in football and a depth chart featuring several veteran players ahead of him being chief among them. And when he has been on the field, passes thrown his direction have been nearly nonexistent, giving us very little to work with from an evaluation standpoint.
Michael Crabtree and Stevie Johnson moving on in free agency, plus a new coaching staff, makes 2015 Patton’s best opportunity to earn significant playing time. If he continues to be a non-factor, it’s probably safe to assume Patton just hasn’t developed in the way Baalke & Co. had hoped when they selected him.
Redraft Pick: WR Quinton Patton, Louisiana Tech
Only two insignificant players were chosen between this slot and the 49ers’ next pick — one of them being a fullback — Patton remains the choice here by default.
Round 4 (131st overall): RB Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina
Everyone is well familiar with Lattimore’s story at this point, so there’s no need to rehash it here. The pick was lauded for its potential upside at the time, but two grueling years of rehab following the devastating injury that ended his college career wasn’t enough to get Lattimore back on the field and he opted to call it quits near the middle of last season.
Redraft Pick: WR Kenny Stills, Oklahoma
Stills hasn’t put up huge numbers, but he’s been among the league’s most efficient deep passing receivers during his two seasons in the league. Part of that is undoubtedly due to Drew Brees, who is one of the NFL’s best deep passers. But needless to say, Stills’s big-play ability would be a welcome addition to the 49ers offense.
Round 5 (157th overall): DE Quinton Dial, Alabama
Outside of Reid, Dial has been the best 49ers’ draftee from this class. Though not a member of the redshirt team, injuries kept Dial off the field for much of his rookie season. He saw limited action as a rotational player early on in year two before claiming a more significant role over the second half of the year.
Dial’s value is in his versatility. He can play any position along the defensive line, and is capable as both a run defender and pass rusher. With the turnover (or potential turnover in the case of Justin Smith) along the DL, I fully expect Dial’s playing time to continue to rise.
Redraft Pick: DE Quinton Dial, Alabama
Luke Willson and Zac Stacy are probably the most intriguing names, but neither match the utility Dial brings to the table along the defensive line.
Round 6 (180th overall): LB Nick Moody, Florida State
Moody has been buried beneath an incredibly crowded depth chart at inside linebacker, relegating him to primarily special teams duty over his first two seasons. Following the surprise retirements of Patrick Willis and Chris Borland this offseason, Moody will have the opportunity to compete for more extensive playing time in 2015, but he’s still a longshot to be anything more than a special teamer.
Redraft Pick: RB Andre Ellington, Clemson
The combination of Bell and Ellington gives the 49ers a dynamic pairing in a post-Gore backfield. While it’s not unreasonable to wonder if Ellington would’ve been utilized properly in San Francisco’s offense, he’s a far better player than the other package players the team has employed in recent years.
Round 7 (237th overall): QB B.J. Daniels, South Florida
Something of a fan favorite during his only preseason with the team, Daniels’s tenure in San Francisco didn’t last long. Daniels was cut early in the 2013 season, with the 49ers hoping that he would clear waivers and claim a spot on the practice squad but he was poached by the Seahawks, where he has remained through the 2014 season.
Redraft Pick: S Kemal Ishmael, Central Florida
As is the norm at this portion of the draft — especially within the parameters of our redraft, as we only have eight players to choose from before San Francisco’s next pick — there’s little in the way of quality players to choose from. Ishmael and Michael Bowie are the only two players of that lot to receive a significant number of snaps at the pro level. Ishmael wasn’t a complete disaster when he entered Atlanta’s starting lineup last season, which is enough to make him the pick here.
Round 7 (246th overall): OT Carter Bykowski, Iowa State
Bykowski spent the duration of his time in San Francisco on the practice squad, but was signed away to Minnesota’s active roster in December of last year.
Redraft Pick: OT Carter Bykowski, Iowa State
Considering just five other players are available to us with this pick, and Bykowski showed enough promise to be poached off the practice squad and become a swing tackle elsewhere, we’ll stick with the Cyclones’ tackle here.
Round 7 (252nd overall): CB Marcus Cooper, Rutgers
Many considered Cooper to be the man that got away once he was part of the final roster cuts in 2013. After getting picked up by the Chiefs, Cooper proceeded to play incredibly well over a six-game stretch in the middle of the season. However, that notion faded quickly. Peyton Manning toasted the rookie cornerback in Week 11 of that season, and Cooper never really recovered. Cooper’s snap count decreased dramatically in his sophomore season, and he was mostly awful when he was on the field.
Redraft Pick: QB Tyler Bray, Tennessee
After passing up on Daniels a few picks earlier, we’ll give the 49ers their project, camp-body quarterback here with the big-armed Bray.