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Sports Illustrated gives 49ers a C+ grade for 2014, four years later

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It’s been four years, and that’s usually how long it takes to get a good handle on a draft class. This one got some production.

It’s hard to look at draft classes one or two years later since it takes roughly four years to see what happened with the picks. Six years later is when you really gauge it as a whole, but four years can indicate a lot as far as busts are concerned.

Which brings us to the 2014 draft. Over at SI.com, Andy Benoit recently ran grades of all 32 teams’ 2014 drafts and here’s what they had to say about the 49ers. They were somewhat neutral on the first pick of Jimmie Ward and called Carlos Hyde, “one of the league’s most underrated traditional runners.” Benoit had this to say about the rest of the class:

Marcus Martin never quite took at center and is now a backup in Dallas. Chris Borland took—big time—but became the first marquee player of his era to proactively retire before 25 due to concussion concerns. (At the time, people worried if that would set a trend. So far, no.)

Remarkably, San Francisco’s six picks after Borland turned into notable contributors. However, none ever became difference-makers, and some disappointed after showing early signs of overachievement. Most importantly, none are still on the roster.

Grade: C+

Brandon Thomas wasn’t really notable, but the next five players made some contributions for the 49ers before being jettisoned by the team. Bruce Ellington has been a big “what if?” player. He is a playmaker, but has never played a full season. Dontae Johnson emerged as a starter, but the team has moved on from him, and he signed with Seattle last month. Aaron Lynch is talented but struggles with conditioning issues. We’ll see if he can get it together in Chicago under Vic Fangio. And Keith Reaser and Kenneth Acker turned into contributing reserves with the 49ers before being unloaded.

It will be interesting to see what Ward’s future holds after this year. Even if he doesn’t return to the team, there’s a big difference to a rookie making it through their contract (Ward and Hyde) and others being released/waived (Martin). Thankfully, this draft wasn’t dominated by the latter.

The 49ers at least got some production out of their picks and weren’t dumping their first pick a year later, which has to mean something. The C+ grade seems about right given Hyde is now with the Browns, Borland has retired, and Martin is still trying to find playing time somewhere.