San Francisco’s rookies kicked off organized team activities nearly two weeks ago with a three-day minicamp running from May 14 through the 16th. The team started OTA’s as a whole Monday, May 23, bringing us all joy with the thought of football being around the corner.
General manager John Lynch made sure to secure depth at the cornerback position and addressed several needs in this year’s NFL Draft. However, the question “can this year’s Draft class outperform last year?” is relative to how Lynch acquired players through his six-year tenure. The 49ers objectively had more voids pre-Draft this season versus last year.
We can start with how San Francisco’s 2021 Draft class impacted the team last season. Nearly all of the ’21 draftees saw game action, and a few of them look to be franchise players. The players who didn’t play as much have a better opportunity at playing time this year.
I talked about how each ’22 draftee can impact the team in year one. It’s safe to say that several players from this draft need time to develop. Drake Jackson and Danny Gray look to have the clearest paths to instant contributors. Jackson potentially has the opportunity to surpass the success Arden Key had last year. Tariq Castro-Fields could wind up being a jack of all trades with his potential to play different positions.
Ty Davis-Price looks to improve Kyle Shanahan’s short-yardage run game. The offense constantly struggled with short-yardage third and fourth downs last season. Having a more aggressive quarterback in Trey Lance behind center should influence Shanahan’s decisions also.
Lynch believes both tackles drafted will have better success inside, and I agree. But the lack of skill at offensive tackle makes me lose sleep when thinking about Trey Lance’s health.
With that being said, no franchise hits on every player year in and year out. However, it feels like the Niners neglect a position each year, with this year being safety. Hopefully, Jimmy Garoppolo is traded in training camp to free up some much-needed cap space.
The talent at safety and offensive tackle worry me. Last year, rookies were forced to step up due to injuries. This year, it will be that much harder for the rookies to see the field.