Anthony Boone of SB Nation’s Michigan blog Maize n Brew was kind enough to answer a handful of questions about 49ers' third-round pick Ambry Thomas.
I reached out to Anthony to get a better idea about the type of person the Niners were getting. However, I’m more interested in the things and traits we can’t see by pulling up Thomas’s YouTube clips.
Did Ambry Thomas come into Michigan with high expectations, and do you felt like he lived up to his reputation?
Thomas came into Michigan as a top-100 recruit from nearby Detroit Martin Luther King HS and played a role early on. It’s hard to say he lived up to expectations, but he was playing the best football of his career before opting out of the 2020 season. I still believe that his best-extended stretch of play is still ahead of him.
The 49ers need a returner in the worst way. But, unfortunately, it seemed as though Thomas was “this” close to breaking one. Do you think Thomas can be an exceptional returner at the next level?
Thomas had some reps on offense early in his career and dabbled in the return game. I think that he does have the athletic traits to be a good NFL returner given the opportunity.
Give us a reason or two why Thomas will excel at the NFL level? Where does he stand out?
I alluded to this earlier, but I think he has his best football still ahead of him. He has good size and athleticism and is going to a good situation in San Francisco. He is also good in press coverage and is a willing tackler. He would have been Michigan’s best defensive player in the back seven by a significant margin last year.
On the other side of the coin, why might Thomas have a hard time cracking the lineup?
The flip side of that is that he is still raw and has not played football in two years. So that’s the risk that comes with any of the opt-outs this year, I suppose. But he does not necessarily have a standout trait that makes you go, “wow, we can build around that.”
Do you have any insights about Thomas’s background, like a leader, a fan favorite, or a guy who the coaches could rely on?
Prior to the 2019 season, Thomas dealt with a bout of colitis that sidelined him for much of the summer and caused him to lose a ton of weight. It was not a given he would play at all that year. Not only did he work himself back into game shape, but he started the first week of the season. His story was one that was talked about a ton in Ann Arbor, and he was always respected for being a hard worker and a character guy in the building.