Breaking down the San Francisco 49ers' 2018 draft class.
Round 1, No. 9 overall: Mike McGlinchey, OT, Notre Dame
My take: It wasn't until this past week that Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey's name started gaining steam as a potential pick for the 49ers. That made his selection something of a surprise, especially considering there were multiple talented defenders on the board when the Niners picked him at No. 9. Clearly, the 49ers view offensive tackle as a pressing need moving forward and believe McGlinchey was the best option in this draft. Protecting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo should be a priority, but this still feels a bit high for McGlinchey.
Forward thinking: Picking McGlinchey is as much about 2019 and beyond as it is about this year. After trading right tackle Trent Brown and a fifth-round pick to the Patriots for a third-round pick on Friday morning, McGlinchey figures to step in at right tackle immediately.
Coach Kyle Shanahan indicated as much Thursday night, even before the Niners dealt Brown.
"We'll start him out at right tackle there, competing with [Garry] Gilliam," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "He can play either tackle. I think he can start in this league as a right tackle, left tackle, swing tackle. I'm sure he can go in and help us at guard, too, if need be."
With Brown gone, the Niners still have stalwart Joe Staley at left tackle. Staley is still a top-notch tackle but he will be 34 in August. McGlinchey was the first tackle taken in the draft and though right tackles are nearly as valuable as those on the left side these days, it still stands to reason the Niners view him as Staley's heir apparent. They probably wouldn't have used a top-10 pick on him if they felt he couldn't handle that job eventually.
Why McGlinchey over Brown?: Adding McGlinchey made it something of a fait accompli that Brown would be traded even if Shanahan and general manager John Lynch played it a bit coy Thursday night. "You know you never say never but right now, we're pleased to have great competition at that spot," Lynch said.
That competition was obviously weakened by dealing Brown as Gilliam will remain in the role of swing tackle after re-signing earlier in the offseason. So, why did the Niners prefer McGlinchey over Brown? First, while Brown was strong in pass protection, he had trouble in the run game and that's something Shanahan wanted to improve. McGlinchey is expected to be an upgrade in that regard right away. Also, with Brown coming off a shoulder injury and set to be a free agent after the season, it was unlikely he was going to be re-signed. Brown consistently struggled with his weight in San Francisco and the Niners had concerns about handing him a big contract knowing that it could always be an issue.
Round 2, No. 44 overall: Dante Pettis, WR, Washington
My take: After spending their first three picks on defense last year, the 49ers are going the other direction to start this year’s draft. Adding Pettis to offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey signals that the Niners are prioritizing adding pieces that can help maximize quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. In this case, the Niners traded pick Nos. 59 and 74 to move up to take Pettis and get pick No. 142. With so much need for impact players on defense, it’s a little surprising to see the Niners going so heavy on offense this early, let alone trading up to make it happen. They still have two more third-round picks to add help on defense, but it’s fair to wonder whether they’ll be able to get immediate contributors there after passing on potential difference-makers in the first two rounds.
How he fits: At 6-foot-1, 195 pounds, Pettis has the ability to line up all over the formation. He played a little bit in the slot and could get a look there as a complement to Marquise Goodwin and Pierre Garcon. But he also can play outside, which means the Niners can move him around and find his best fit. Pettis also is the NCAA record holder with nine career punt return touchdowns. He figures to step into that job right away.
Prospect Profile: Fred Warner
Former BYU linebacker showed off his versatility in both pass rushing and pass defense during his days with the Cougars.
Round 3, No. 70 overall: Fred Warner, LB, BYU
My take: The Niners’ first defensive pick of this draft comes as little surprise given the amount of interest the team showed in Warner in the pre-draft process. The 6-foot-3, 236-pound Warner is the same weight as Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith, though wasn’t as productive or dynamic as an athlete. Still, this is a solid pick that makes sense in the scheme and offers some insurance as linebacker Reuben Foster’s legal situation plays out and Malcolm Smith returns from a pectoral injury.
How he fits: Warner projects as a weakside linebacker in coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. He could help at middle linebacker as well but is probably best suited for the weak side behind Smith. Known for his coverage ability, Warner could also be used in a hybrid role, which means the Niners could find ways to get him on the field in sub-packages. He also should be able to chip in on special teams right away.
Round 3, No. 95 overall: Tarvarius Moore, DB, Southern Miss
My take: The Niners continued to add to their defense by landing Moore with the 95th pick, which they acquired in the Friday morning trade that sent offensive tackle Trent Brown to New England. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Moore is a freakish athlete with plenty of upside, though he looks to be a bit of a project. Still, he ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at his pro day and also tested very well in the vertical and broad jumps. Safety doesn’t appear to be a pressing need but Jimmie Ward is a free agent after the season and Moore brings versatility.
How he fits: Moore played free safety in college and said the Niners mostly talked to him about playing that position. But general manager John Lynch made it clear that Moore will also get a look at cornerback. Given his size and arm length (33 1/8 inch), he has the measurables that the 49ers look for in outside corners. In the meantime, they are certain he can help at safety as well as on special teams.
Prospect Profile: Kentavius Street
Take a look at NC State DE Kentavius Street's college highlights.
Round 4, No. 128 overall: Kentavius Street, DE, NC State
My take: The Niners undoubtedly needed some help with the pass rush, particularly on the edge, but using their fourth-round pick on Street doesn’t really offer help in that regard. During the pre-draft process, Street suffered a knee injury in a private workout with the Giants and though he brings plenty of size, athleticism and strength, this looks like a player who won’t be able to contribute in 2018. The Niners need help on defense now, making this pick a head-scratcher.
How he fits: At 6-foot-2, 287 pounds, Street actually has the speed to play on the edge but his combination of size and strength (there’s a viral video of him squatting 700 pounds) probably means he projects as a big end in the 49ers' scheme. With Arik Armstead set to be a free agent after this year unless the Niners pick up his fifth-year option, and with Street needing time to recover from injury, this looks like potential Armstead insurance.
Round 5, No. 142 overall: D.J. Reed, CB, Kansas State
My take: One of the Niners’ needs coming into the last day was more depth in the secondary, and they got a little more in adding Reed in the fifth round. Reed was a solid, productive player at Kansas State, both as a corner and as a returner. This is a solid, if unspectacular, addition, which is about what you'd expect at this point in the draft.
How he fits: At 5-foot-9, 188 pounds, Reed projects as a nickel corner in the NFL. The Niners have K’Waun Williams as the primary option there with Jimmie Ward capable of kicking inside. He does have long arms for his size but for now, Reed will likely be asked to compete for a depth spot in the slot and chip in on special teams.
Round 6, No. 184 overall: Marcell Harris, S, Florida
My take: For the second time on Saturday, the Niners took a defensive player coming off a serious injury. Harris didn’t play the 2017 season because of an Achilles injury but appeared in 37 games for the Gators before that. Harris is another pick that comes with some risk because of the injury, but the Niners are clearly willing to roll the dice on some potential future upside, just like they did in round four with defensive end Kentavius Street.
How he fits: Harris’ hard-hitting reputation could be a good fit for the Niners if he’s healthy. He’s better suited playing near the line of scrimmage at 6-foot-1, 216 pounds. Harris should have a chance to compete for a backup spot at strong safety behind Jaquiski Tartt and will need to contribute on special teams in order to stick.
Round 7, No. 223 overall: Jullian Taylor, DT, Temple
My take: For the fourth time in as many picks on Saturday, the 49ers added depth to their defense. Taylor is a little on the small side at 6-5 and 280 pounds, but is well-built and athletic. He had 31 reps on the bench press and ran a 4.83 40-yard dash. Taylor is more likely to be helpful as a run defender than as a pass-rusher. It’s the seventh round; at this point, every team is hoping to find a winning lottery ticket.
How he fits: The Niners don’t have a lot of options for depth at defensive tackle behind DeForest Buckner and Earl Mitchell, but it still figures to be an uphill climb for Taylor to make the roster over the likes of Sheldon Day, D.J. Jones and Ronald Blair. Taylor likely projects as a 3-technique defensive tackle, though he also could potentially play big end.
Round 7, No. 240 overall: Richie James, WR, Middle Tennessee
My take: The only offensive player the 49ers picked on Saturday is also one of their most intriguing. James finished his career ranked first in school history in receiving yards, receptions and touchdowns, and though he’s small (5-9, 176 pounds), he has the ability to play multiple positions. On the down side, James is coming off a broken collarbone that cost him most of the 2017 season.
How he fits: While James profiles size-wise as a slot receiver, and he could contribute there, he could also get work outside, according to coach Kyle Shanahan. James will have an uphill battle to make the roster with Marquise Goodwin, Pierre Garcon, Trent Taylor, Aldrick Robinson, Kendrick Bourne and Dante Pettis ahead of him.