The San Francisco 49ers rookie class this season has had some positives and negatives. Even if they did nothing else from this day forward, they have already out-performed the 2012 class, so that’s something. And fingers crossed, this group is only going to improve from here.
The folks at Pro Football Focus recently put together a ranking for ESPN, featuring all 32 draft classes. They ranked the San Francisco 49ers No. 17. The top five included the Dallas Cowboys, Kansas City Chiefs, Chicago Bears, Tennessee Titans, and San Diego Chargers. The bottom five included (from the bottom) the Los Angeles Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals. It’s interesting that three of the four NFC West teams got dinged pretty badly.
Here’s what PFF had to say about the 49ers draft class:
Three of San Francisco's first four picks have played considerable roles this season. DeForest Buckner's 823 snaps leads all interior defenders, not just rookies. He has been steadily solid for the 49ers, collecting 39 total pressures. Fourth-rounder Rashard Robinson already looks like a steal. Outside of a disaster against Tampa Bay when he gave up two touchdowns, Robinson has been solid, allowing a completion rate under 50 percent as the team's nickel corner.
Buckner and Robinson have been the two most notable players from the 49ers rookie class, so it is no surprise to see them get prominent mention. Here is the full draft class, broken up by their current status:
On 53-man roster, playing
Deforest Buckner, DT (1st round)
Joshua Garnett, OG (2nd round)
Rashard Robinson, CB (4th round)
Ronald Blair, DT (5th round)
Aaron Burbridge, WR (6th round)
On 53-man roster, not playing
John Theus, OT (5th round)
Alex Balducci, OL (UDFA)
Prince Charles Iworah, CB (7th round)
Mose Frazier, WR (UDFA)
Wynton McManis, ILB (UDFA)
Norman Price, OL (UDFA)
On injured list
Will Redmond, CB (3rd round)
Fahn Cooper, OT (5th round)
Jeff Driskel, QB (6th round) - roster cuts
Kelvin Taylor, RB (6th round) - left practice squad, signed with Seahawks
Once we get through the season, I’m going to take a look back at the first year performances for the last six draft classes. It’s not going to be a scientific study, but I’m curious to see how things compare. I don’t think this draft class has been a home run in year one, but I do think it’s been a fairly solid performance. The decision to release Jeff Driskel sticks in my craw a bit given that Christian Ponder has been inactive for the first 13 games of the season. On the one hand, he’s a sixth round pick, so it’s not the end of the world. On the other hand, Trent Baalke has done nothing otherwise to try and improve the quarterback position with any significance.
I would agree with Nick Wagoner that Will Redmond counts as the biggest disappointment of the 2016 class. It is not his fault the 49ers opened his pratice window when they did, but when a third round pick ends up on season-ending IR, it’s a disappointment. These are the kinds of things that should cost Trent Baalke his job. Redmond might turn out fine next year, but in what is otherwise a lost season, not getting a chance to see what a third round pick can do is plenty disappointing.