With the coronavirus pandemic, the San Francisco 49ers can’t bring in players for personal workouts or have them walk through plays on a whiteboard. Kyle Shanahan can’t spend 1-on-1 time with a player face-to-face to gauge his love for football and fit in the locker room. The NFL Draft will go on as scheduled on April 23, but the preparation will be different for all teams. The way teams can interact with draft prospects is by phone or video.
The Athletic’s Matt Barrows listed some new faces that the 49ers have conducted with position coaches. The names that we were already aware of:
I’ll use Sports Info Solutions Rookie Handbook and their one-liners to describe each prospect
Lynn Bowden, WR, Kentucky
Bowden has athleticism, versatility, RAC (run after catch) ability, and competitiveness to make an impact right away, but inconsistent hands and inability to release against press likely will hold him back.
Bowden projects to be a No. 3 slot receiver who can also line up out wide on occasion. He is a good athlete with very good running ability, along with his swagger and toughness required to be a playmaker. On third downs, he fits best in the slot where he can use his athleticism to make plays in space and move the chains. He brings dynamic kick return ability, and his play speed and toughness suggest he can contribute on other special teams units as well.
Bowden measured at 5-foot-11, 204 pounds. SIS graded him out as a No. 3 receiver. Based on that description, it’s easy to see why the 49ers are interested in the Kentucky receiver. Bowden attempted 74 passes in 2019. You know Shanahan would have a wildcat package with an athlete player like Bowden.
Ezra Cleveland, OT, Boise State
Cleveland’s testing numbers at the NFL combine were impressive. He ran a faster short shuttle than Jerry Jeudy at 4.46. Cleveland’s 3-cone drill was 7.26, which is another impressive number. Any time a lineman jumps in the 30s on a vertical that tells you about his explosiveness. Cleveland jumped 30” and ran a 4.93 40-yard dash. Color me intrigued. SIS graded him as a “lower-end starter who plays only one position.” Think of it as the end of the first-round level grade.
Cleveland lacks top-end anchor ability and hand usage, but he has athleticism, range, and foot quickness to be a consistent starter on the left side at the next level.
Cleveland projects as a left tackle at the next level in either a zone or gap scheme. He has a high ceiling due to his athletic ability and foot quickness, but he will need a little time to develop his hand usage to handle NFL-caliber pass rushers.
So, give Cleveland a year to get stronger and sharpen his technique.
Daniel Thomas, S, Auburn
Thomas measured at 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds at the NFL Combine. He ran a 4.51 40-yard dash and jumped 37” in the vertical with a 10-foot-4 broad jump—all of those numbers are impressive for a safety that size. SIS graded Thomas as a “box safety only.”
Thomas has the requisite toughness and tackling abilities of a box safety prototype and key special teamer, but his athletic and deep coverage limitations may keep him from seeing the field much otherwise.
Thomas best fits as a prototypical box safety reserve. He is not big enough to make a true transition to a LB role, and his sufficient intermediate coverage skills don’t necessitate such a move. But he should be best used as a sub-package box safety with very solid tackling ability and physicality. These also translate well to a fourth-down role on multiple special teams units.
Jaquiski Tartt’s contract is up after this season, but that feels like we just read a Marcel Harris scouting report.
There you have it. Two Day 3 players and one possible pick at No. 31 to replace Joe Staley.