The San Francisco 49ers have three Iowa Hawkeyes on the roster, cornerback Greg Mabin, quarterback C.J. Beathard and tight end George Kittle. The rookies saw quite a bit of game time in their first year, partially as a result of the Hawkeye’s pro style system run by head coach Kirk Ferentz. There are five Hawkeyes headed to the combine this week and Kittle was kind enough to give us a little insight on his former teammates. The defensive prospects will be covered in this article.
CB Josh Jackson 6’1, 192 lbs.
The 49ers are in need of a cornerback who can play outside, opposite of Ahkello Witherspoon. Even if they address that need during free agency, they will likely still draft a corner at some point. Jackson will likely go in the first round after leading the nation in 2017 with 8 interceptions and 18 passes defended. The 49ers could trade down from their 9/10 pick for Jackson who is projected to go somewhere in the late teens to early 20s.
Jackson is tall and has arm length that helps him high point passes headed his direction. He played wide receiver in high school which contributes to his ballhawking skills. He’s known for his leadership skills and positive attitude.
Projected round 1
Kittle: Josh, from his play, is obviously very good. You can just watch the Ohio State game and that’s his highlight reel. You can ask him, but I feel like his story is similar to what I told you last year about me; wasn’t playing as much and made some decisions to change some things and then he started playing a lot this year and last year. I could tell the difference from him during his first two years in college versus his last two years. It’s a complete difference in his attitude and work ethic. He sat down and decided what really matters to him.
I spoke to him about declaring when I was back for the Purdue game and he asked ‘What I should do?’ and I told him ‘I’d declare in a heartbeat.’ He said ‘Thanks for the tip.’ I know he talked to C.J. too. I’m happy for him, I feel like it’s the best thing for him.
How would he fit into the 49ers defense? Like a glove. He would sneak right in and do really well. That’s the kind of player he is. He’s a freak athlete. I got to do speed work against him all through college so that was really fun. I beat him in some things because I used to be 225 lbs. He’s fun and would be a great addition to the team. I mossed him all the time, you can ask him. (laughing)
What would you sat to those asking about his tackling abilities? I feel like everyone said that about (Chargers CB) Desmond King last year, that he wasn’t going to be very good coming out with knocks on that but I think he’s doing pretty well for himself. He’s from then same coach and the same system. I think Josh is going to be just fine.
Have you been tackled him? No, I only stiff arm him.
ILB Josey Jewell 6’1, 235 lbs.
The 49ers should probably have a back up plan at inside linebacker and Jewell, who’s comp is Sean Lee, is a quality prospect. He racked up 69 solo tackles in his final season at Iowa and 63 assisted, four and a half sacks and two interceptions.
While Jewell could be criticized for being on the smaller size for a ILB, he shows great instincts and a punishing style of hitting. (Reuben Foster is 6’1, 228 lbs.)
Projected rounds 3-4
Kittle: Josey the Outlaw. He was called that since he got there. He got an interception against Nebraska in 2015 and he fired off the six shooters on the field. We’ve always been really good friends. We had a lot of classes together because my minor was his major. what I love about him is that he’s quiet, kind of like Akrum [Wadley] and takes football super seriously. He was a veteran the moment he stepped in the locker room, that’s what everyone noticed about him. That’s what an NFL team, whoever gets him, will notice about him. He’s one of the most professional guys I’ve ever been around.
He has an on/off switch. Off the field he’s calm, cool and collected and on the field he’s just an animal. He goes after everybody. He doesn’t ever slow down. He’s always in the right spot at the right time. The knocks on him that he’s not big enough or fast enough? There’s plenty of clips of him just blowing up guys that are way bigger than him. There’s a clip versus Iowa State where he chased down Allen Lazard (6’5 222) who’s their big wide receiver. He hawked him from behind and didn’t let him get a touchdown. He’s fast and can change direction. He’s going to be in the league a long time and produce.
Have you been tackled by Jewell? Yes. Multiple times. Multiple times. He is a violent, physical guy. He hits you to hit you and it’s not like he’s doing it because he has to tackle you. He intends to punish you. It’s awesome.