Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller decided to take a new look at some of the worst teams in the league by speaking with scouts around the NFL. He spoke to various personnel around the league to get their thoughts on why certain bad teams are in the position they are in.
Naturally, it included the San Francisco 49ers. A scout had some fairly obviously comments about the state of the team:
"The Niners have some pieces—left tackle, guard, D-line—but where is the nucleus of the roster? What are you building around? Bad drafts have killed this team."
The team has Joe Staley at left tackle, invested in Joshua Garnett at right guard, and added DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead in the last two drafts. They have some talent emerging elsewhere (Carlos Hyde, Rashard Robinson, Jimmie Ward when healthy, others), but core building blocks have been slow to emerge.
Miller suggests a “blow it up” approach that includes swapping out both Trent Baalke and Chip Kelly. He talked about the need to invest in younger players in free agency that are still building toward their prime. And of course, the 49ers need to nail this year’s draft. He offered up a seven round mock draft that looks at a wide variety of positions on both sides of the ball. Here are his 49ers picks, and you can read more of his analysis here.
Rd 1—LB Reuben Foster, Alabama
Rd 2—QB Brad Kaaya, Miami (Fla.)
Rd 3—WR Isaiah Ford, Virginia Tech
Rd 4—EDGE Haason Reddick, Temple
Rd 5—T Conor McDermott, UCLA
Rd 5 (f/WAS)—S Tedric Thompson, Colorado
Rd 6—RB Tarean Folston, Notre Dame
Rd 6 (f/DEN)—G Greg Pyke, Georgia
Rd 7 (f/CLE)—CB Jalen Myrick, Minnesota
Rd 7—LB Riley Bullough, Michigan State
We can talk about the specifics all day long, but for now we can focus on positions. There are some positions with a bigger need than others, but there are enough needs across the board that finding the best option instead of reaching for a particular position makes sense. Inside linebacker is not the team’s biggest need, but there are enough questions at the quarterback position in this class that grabbing one at No. 2 might not be the wisest move for a team in a full-scale rebuild.
They have to hit a home run with their first pick this year. Odds are high they will not draft a Hall of Famer, but they need someone who is an impact player right away, and is competitive for Pro Bowl and All Pro honors. I’m not saying they need to make 10 straight Pro Bowls to start their career, but you need a player that is at the very least in the discussion on an annual basis. Whether Foster can be that guy or not is subject to debate, but it is hard to look at this quarterback class and say, yea, I can see Player X reaching that level with this kind of investment.