SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With the San Francisco 49ers' regular season half over, let’s take a look at the impact made by the rookie class:
First round: Safety Eric Reid. The 49ers traded up to take Reid at No. 18 and they have not been disappointed. Reid has stepped right in and looks like he’s been playing for five years. He rarely makes mistakes and he has shown he is a playmaker. The team does not miss Dashon Goldson, who went to Tampa Bay in free agency. Reid is a big reason why this defense is still top notch. Kudos to him for being up to task and to the 49ers for making this choice.
Second round: Tight end Vance McDonald. McDonald has just six catches, but he is playing extensively and blocking very well. I expect him to get better pretty rapidly. He's a potential impact player.
Third round: Linebacker Corey Lemonier. The Auburn product had been a gift to the 49ers. He has played a lot in the past five games with linebacker Aldon Smith in alcohol treatment. Lemonier has shown a burst as a pass-rusher and in the run game. He looks to have a bright future.
Fourth round: Receiver Quinton Patton. Patton showed promise before suffering a foot injury in Week 4. He will be part of the picture later this season and in the future.
Fifth round: Defensive tackle Quinton Dial. Dial has been active the past two games after coming back from an injury. He seems to be part of the rotational plan at nose tackle.
Sixth round: Linebacker Nick Moody. He is expected to be a key member of the special-teams units when he returns from a broken hand.
Undrafted free agents:
Long-snapper: Kevin McDermott. His battle with longtime snapper Brian Jennings was a story during the preseason. McDermott won the job partly on price tag. The move paid off. His snapping has been flawless.
Cornerback: Darryl Morris. He has developed into a key piece for a vastly improved coverage unit. He has quickly secured his place on the 53-man roster moving forward.
Note: This week, the 49ers activated defensive lineman Tank Carradine off the PUP list. He is a dynamic player who is coming off a torn ACL. He could make his presence felt down the stretch. Fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore is making strides from a major knee injury he suffered in college. He may practice this season with an eye on 2014.
Conclusion: This looks to be a strong class after a mostly wasted 2012 draft. This class is deep with long-term potential. This is one of the deepest rosters in football, yet there are several rookies who are figuring in prominently on a 6-2 team.