The San Francisco 49ers are looking to capitalize on a strong 2017 draft with their recently concluded 2018 version, but there was a time they had significant drafting problems. Over the years leading up to John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan’s hiring, things have been inconsistent at best. 2012 was the sign of things to come and 2013 wasn’t horrible, but it brought no one to really wrench a roster spot outside of Eric Reid. Of 2014’s class, only Jimmie Ward remains.
It’s hard to gauge how the 2018 draft will go until three or four years pass. Given that time frame, Mark Saltveit has already looked back at various graders for the 2015 draft and now we have one more: Sports Illustrated’s Conor Orr regraded the 2015 draft and took the 49ers down a slight notch. This is significant, because it’s hard to gauge how well a draft went until three or four years later. Instead of a B-, they received a C+ Here’s what the 49ers 2015 draft class looked like:
Round 1 - Pick 17 - Arik Armstead, DE, Oregon
Round 2 - Pick 46 - Jaquiski Tartt, S, Samford
Round 3 - Pick 79 - Eli Harold, LB, Virginia
Round 4 - Pick 117 - Blake Bell, TE, Oklahoma
Round 4 - Pick 126 - Mike Davis, RB, South Carolina
Round 4 - Pick 132 - DeAndre Smelter, WR, Georgia Tech
Round 5 - Pick 165 - Bradley Pinion, P, Clemson
Round 6 - Pick 190 - Ian Silberman, OT, Boston College
Round 7 - Pick 244 - Trenton Brown, OT, Florida
Round 7 - Pick 254 - Busta Anderson, TE, South Carolina
This was good enough to get a B- in 2015. Here’s what was written by Doug Farrar when the draft concluded:
49ers general manager Trent Baalke has run the franchise’s last few drafts, and he’s come out with precious few starters for his trouble. His 2015 draft may be more of the same. First-round defensive lineman Arik Armstead is a freak athlete but is so raw that even head coach Jim Tomsula admitted his new top guy will take some time to adjust. Second-round safety Jaquiski Tartt from Samford was a Senior Bowl sensation, but with Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid in that secondary already, one wonders where Tartt will play. Third-round pass rusher Eli Harold from Virginia may have the best chance to get serious reps right away with his combination of speed and strength. Watch also for Deandre Smelter, a big receiver out of Georgia Tech who should get a good look once he recovers from last December’s knee injury. The 49ers seem to understand that their current rebuilding process will take a while, but Baalke needs to improve his hit rate—and soon.
Regarding that last sentence, Baalke’s hit rate never improved which lead to his firing. The picks that remain with the 49ers are solid. Arik Armstead is a solid piece—when healthy and Jaquiski Tartt may have had a hand in forcing Eric Reid out of a job with his solid play. Bradley Pinion has been decent as well, though at the cost of Andy Lee can be debated. Eli Harold also hasn’t had much said about him in the negative during 2017, and for his position on the defense, that can be taken as a good thing.
Orr regraded the draft and gave the 49ers a C+. A small step back but nothing you could call significant. Here’s what Orr said about the draft.
A high-volume draft that still has some late-rounders hanging around the NFL in different locations. Armstead and Tartt are key pieces of the 49ers defense despite a regime change.
Beyond the remains of the draft, everyone else has moved on. 10 picks and only four players remain. Arik Armstead needs to stay healthy and he’s a beast. While Eli Harold isn’t bad by any stretch, he’s not exactly making a hard statement that he needs an extension. Tartt has been extended already. And Pinion has carved out a role and has a net average of 40.1 yards (one of the main deciding factors for punters) putting him at 15th in the league.
Everyone else in this class has moved on, either by release or trade. With the exceptions of Armstead and Tartt will be sticking around after 2018, but Harold and Pinion have not been extended yet.
Besides Tartt who has signed an extension, who do you see the 49ers signing into 2019?