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How the 49ers have used their third round picks under the current regime

The hit rate hasn’t been great, but the 49ers also haven’t had issues moving on from players they don’

San Francisco 49ers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The 49ers have made nine picks in the third round since John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan arrived in 2017, and eight of those nine players are still in the league. With three picks in round three in the upcoming draft, finding difference makers on the back end of day two will be a major focus.

To get a better sense of how the team has utilized their picks in the third round under the current regime, I compiled a list of all of them, and included how their stints with the team panned out and where they are currently.

Ahkello Witherspoon, CB

At 6’2 with 4.45 speed, Witherspoon had the length and long speed that would make any front office salivate at the thought of adding him to their secondary. While Witherspoon’s tenure with the 49ers did not extend beyond his rookie deal, he was still an important part of a team that nearly won a Super Bowl in 2019.

Witherspoon started 33 games with the 49ers across four seasons, and is currently entering his third season with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

C.J. Beathard, QB

At a time when the 49ers needed a quarterback along with just about every other position on the roster, Beathard was the handpicked choice of Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch in their first draft on the job. Coming from a pro style offense at Iowa, there was a lot to like about Beathard coming out, including incredible toughness and a lively arm.

Unfortunately, things never really panned out for Beathard in San Francisco, starting six games during his rookie season before being replaced by mid-season acquisition Jimmy Garoppolo. Beathard started 12 games over four years with the 49ers and is now the backup quarterback behind Trevor Lawrence in Jacksonville.

Fred Warner, LB

By far the best pick the 49ers have made in the third round, and arguably the best pick they’ve made in any round during the current regime. He was an intriguing prospect coming out of BYU and has blossomed into the best player at his position in the entire league.

Warner’s ability to cover at a once in a generation kind of level for a linebacker has been a major factor in the 49ers having a top five defense for four years running, and he has been acknowledged for his greatness with two first team All-Pro selections over the last three seasons.

A leader on the field and in the locker room, the 49ers found a franchise pillar when they turned in a draft card with Warner’s name on it back in 2018.

Tarvarius Moore, S

Moore came out of a smaller school in Southern Miss, but his tape reflected athleticism and ball hawking skills that showed the potential of a starting safety someday. While he had a very memorable interception in Super Bowl LIV, the role the team had envisioned for him when he was selected never panned out.

Moore still played a pivotal role on special teams and logged over 2000 snaps between defense and special teams over four seasons with the 49ers. He signed a deal with the Green Bay Packers this offseason.

Jalen Hurd, WR

This is one that will always leave you wondering ‘what if’. At 6’5, 226 pounds, Hurd was listed as a receiver but had a past as a five star running back recruit who had plenty of touches in the backfield during his time at Tennessee before transferring to Baylor.

A do it all player who could line up all over the field with that kind of size? He was supposed to be the gadget player that would unlock Shanahan’s offense, the ultimate weapon for the league’s most dangerous play caller.

Instead, he was plagued by horrific injury luck and ended up never recording a regular season snap for the 49ers before being released in 2021. A cautionary tale of just how cruel fate can be when playing this sport. But hey, we will always have the two touchdowns vs Dallas during his rookie season.

Trey Sermon, RB

If you are going to trade up anywhere in the top 100 picks for a running back, you better make sure you hit on that player. Just a little over a year after Sermon was selected by the 49ers, they cut him just prior to the start of the regular season in his second year.

He is now with the Eagles and his story is far from over, there’s plenty of time for him to still be a contributing player in the NFL. But from the 49ers side of things, they whiffed bad on this one.

This was arguably their biggest miss in the third round under the current regime, considering Sermon totaled just 44 touches during his 49ers tenure, with the highlight being his lone touchdown in a Week 3 loss to the Green Bay Packers in 2021.

Ambry Thomas, CB

Thomas had great tape and exceptional athletic testing numbers coming out of Michigan. It is no surprise the 49ers took a chance on a player with true 4.41 speed who also flashed the ability to be a significant contributor as a return man on special teams.

He saw a lot of action early on during his rookie season that was highlighted by his game clinching interception against the Rams in Week 18, which launched the 49ers into the playoffs. Since then, he has mostly been relegated to special teams work, recording 138 special teams snaps to just 41 defensive snaps in 2022.

Year three appears to be a make-or-break year for Thomas, who will likely have to fight hard for a roster spot in training camp.

Tyrion Davis-Price, RB

An explosive runner, the ten yard split is what really stood out about Price coming out of LSU. At 1.54 seconds, he displayed a level of burst and acceleration that paired nicely with a noticeable level of physicality as a north to south runner.

He didn’t see much of a workload in year one, recording just 34 rushes for 99 yards. It is worth noting the 49ers had a superstar ahead of him on the depth chart, but the lack of work is still something to monitor as he heads into year two. The athletic gifts are too appealing to write Davis-Price off at this point in time.

Danny Gray, WR

The first thing that jumps out about Gray is his explosive home run speed, as evidenced by the 4.33 40-yard dash he recorded at the scouting combine. Somewhat similar to Davis-Price, he saw very little action on offense during his rookie season, recording just two touches for a total of 19 yards.

It’s important to remember how difficult it is to play wide receiver in Shanahan’s offense, and how even those who excelled early on voiced the adversity they went through making that adjustment.

Gray has the ability to be more than just a deep threat, he possesses great instincts with the ball in his hands, and has the potential to fit in nicely with the stockpile of YAC monsters the 49ers have amassed at their skill positions. His usage in year two should tell us a lot about what his role will be moving forward.

While every draft is different and will offer different depths at various positions, here is how the 49ers have allocated their 3rd round picks based on position during the Lynch/Shanahan regime.

2 Running backs

2 Wide receivers

2 Cornerbacks

1 Linebacker

1 Safety

1 Cornerback