The San Francisco 49ers walked away from the 2018 NFL Draft with a nine-person class that features some potential early impact players, but also a lot of projections. For the time being it looks decidedly different than last year’s class, but training camp will tell us plenty more.
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper put together his annual draft grades, and he took a slightly different approach to grading the 49ers. He gave the 49ers a B- for their efforts, but also factored in the Jimmy Garoppolo trade.
There were a couple of reaches here, but we have to factor in the Garoppolo deal, too. So the 49ers are in a much better spot than they were when Lynch took over.
I’m curious what kind of grade he would have given the 49ers if they had not made that trade. It would have resulted in a decidedly different class given the second round pick and different 49ers needs, but if you simply remove the trade from the analysis, what does it lead to? I put together a poll yesterday asking people to grade the draft, and the curve peaks between C+ and B+. 65 percent of voters were there, with 22 percent leading the way at B. I think people question some of the picks, but want to be optimistic with their grades.
Kiper seems to generally like the Pettis addition, and justifies the move up with the extra third round picks the 49ers had to spare. Pettis gives them a punt returner and a versatile receiving threat for Garoppolo.
Here’s the rest of what Kiper had to say about the 49ers draft class.
I thought the 49ers might pounce on defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 9. When they took Mike McGlinchey, though, we knew something was up because a starting offensive tackle wasn’t a true need. That spot opened up later in the night as GM John Lynch dealt right tackle Trenton Brown (plus pick 143) to the Patriots for the 95th pick. So I see what Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan see in McGlinchey, a big 6-8 tackle who is probably better on the right side. He needs to get stronger. His body type and feet remind me of Andrew Whitworth, who has had a great career after being taken by the Bengals in the second round of the 2006 draft. McGlinchey was the name I heard as the biggest riser over the past two weeks.
San Francisco didn’t have its original second-round pick because of the Jimmy Garoppolo trade -- I think they’re OK with how that turned out -- but Lynch moved up in Round 2 (with the pick the Niners got from the Saints in last year’s draft) to grab a pass-catcher for his quarterback. Dante Pettis (44) had 22 receiving touchdowns over the past two seasons, and had nine career punt return TDs, including four last season. He’s an elite return man who immediately becomes a deep threat for Garoppolo. It did cost a third-round pick, but the 49ers had extras between the earlier Patriots’ trade and the Bears moving up to get Mitchell Trubisky last year.
With the uncertainty around Reuben Foster’s future, I thought San Francisco might go after a linebacker early, but it waited until pick 70 to grab Fred Warner, a versatile playmaker who started 42 games at BYU. Kentavius Street (128) is a powerful defensive end. Tarvarius Moore (95) was farther down on my board, but I see the athleticism on tape that could cause the 49ers to fall in love with him. Safety Marcell Harris (184) missed the entire 2017 season because of an Achilles’ injury, but he’s worth a flier in the sixth round.