49ers betting on wild cards

This is my Saturday column assessing the 49ers’ draft.

SANTA CLARA – Chris Culliver is the 49ers’ wild card this season.

The 49ers did not draft a cornerback until the end of the fourth round on Saturday. They took Dontae Johnson, who started more games at safety for North Carolina State last season than he started at cornerback. He’s a developmental project.

So, pencil in Culliver as the 49ers’ starting left cornerback next season. The 49ers need him to play more than 1,000 snaps and to cover the opponent’s No. 1 receiver.

Why would the 49ers freely choose to depend on Culliver? He is a problem. He is the guy who gave up 123 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He is the guy who made homophobic comments right before the Super Bowl. “I don’t do the gay guys,” he said. He is the guy who was driving on a suspended license and hit a bicyclist on March 28, and now is charged with misdemeanor hit-and-run and felony possession of brass knuckles. The NFL may or may not suspend him for a few games next season.

Even if the NFL doesn’t suspend Culliver, can the 49ers depend on him? What if he gets himself in trouble on a Friday before a game? How could the 49ers replace the No. 1 cornerback in their game plan two days before they play? The 49ers are at Culliver’s mercy.

Let’s give Culliver the benefit of the doubt and say he never gets in trouble off the field again. He still wouldn’t be dependable.

He tore his left ACL in a non-contact, half-speed special teams drill during last year’s training camp. He made a simple cut and his knee gave out. He did not play at all last season.

General manager Trent Baalke says he is not concerned about Culliver’s knee. “A lot of players have come back from ACLs. It was a clean ACL (tear). There was no surface damage to the bones. He was fine. Rehab is going extremely well. We feel really good about where he is at.”

What if Culliver’s knee does not fully recover? Or, what if it gives out again? Most players can bounce back from ACL tears these days. But some players just can’t. Look at Kyle Williams. He tore his left ACL in 2012, was much slower in 2013 and then tore the left ACL again on Nov. 22, 2013. Or look at Darius Flemming. He has torn his left ACL twice in two years as a member of the 49ers.

Let’s say Culliver’s knee fully recovers. He still wouldn’t be reliable.

In 2012 when Culliver was the 49ers’ No. 3 cornerback, opposing teams figured out they could beat Culliver deep. Although Culliver is a terrific athlete who can shadow receivers, he can’t find the deep pass when it’s in the air. So, practically every time a team needed a big play against the 49ers in 2012, they threw at Culliver. From Week 6 on, Culliver allowed 8.9 yards per pass attempt and a 97 passer rating.

The 49ers could have drafted a better cornerback than Culliver. Darqueze Dennard, the 2013 Jim Thorpe Award winner for the best defensive back in college football, got picked by the Bengals with the 24th pick in the first round. The 49ers had the 30th pick, and 10 more picks after that. It would have been easy for the 49ers to trade a couple of those picks to move up a few spots and get Dennard, who has the potential to become an All Pro cornerback.

Instead, the 49ers drafted safety Jimmie Ward in the first round. He will cover slot receivers his rookie season and play about 600 snaps – 400 fewer snaps than an outside cornerback like Dennard. Dennard would have had a much bigger impact than Ward next season for the 49ers

And here is the kicker – covering a slot receiver is tougher than covering an outside receiver. Covering a slot receiver is the toughest assignment on the football field. A slot receiver can use the whole field, cut left or right. An outside receiver cannot use the whole field because he lines up next to the sideline.

Like Culliver, Ward is a wild card.

Can the 49ers win a Super Bowl with two wild cards in their secondary? Here’s a better question: Why would the 49ers want to find out?

Grant Cohn writes sports columns and the “Inside the 49ers” blog for the Press Democrat’s website. You can reach him at grantcohn@gmail.com.

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  1. That’s how the ‘Hawks do it. They draft a bunch of wild cards at CB who all fit the same mold, knowing that 2 of those guys each year will respond to pro coaching and work out. That’s what happened with Cooper for us last year, even though we didn’t keep him.

    And Grant, the way you speak of Dennard is as though he’s a lock. The first two CBs taken in last year’s draft, Millner and Hayden, were awful in their rookie years.

      1. Dennard’s film has some issues, Grant. He’s not a quick-twitch guys, which is why he was the third CB taken. I don’t dislike him. But I think Ward has a chance to be an excellent coverage safety which is I think harder to find than a solid but unspectacular CB.

  2. Grant this draft along with picking up Stevie Johnson is an unquestionable A. The reason its such a phenomenal draft is that its about the 9ers staying in the playoffs for the next 5 to 8 years . The great organizations don’t make panic picks that are all about the next season they are looking down the road especially regarding the salary cap. So no Grant the sky is not falling the sky is not falling.

    1. Old coach,
      I give it an A minus using old school grading where C is truly the average. I love what Baalke did in this draft. He held onto the mid round picks and got thoroughly rewarded for it.

      The minus is kinda for what Grant discusses here. The CB need is still pretty much a need. And it does make you take pause about Dennard falling so close and thinking about the what if.

      But then I go back and look at all the rewards they got in those rich middle rounds and beyond for passing on one single player and the pause is over and the play button is on fire.

      1. So now we have 12 new prospects on an already stacked roster. So how many of these 12 dress week one, how many get shelved on the practice roster and who gets cut, new and old players?
        I also like this draft. What I don’t like is we are now cutting valuable players that other teams, potentially division rivals get for nothing.

        1. Prime,
          We knew this would be the case if Niners played to the strength of the draft and made full use of there mid round picks.
          Actually subtract three who are redshirts for next year. Those are like extra top round picks in 2015. Then some injuries will occur in preseason and there will be further trades for futures. Its a good problem to have.

    2. Good point old Coach, we are fine without Culiver last season. At least he does not have to cover Boldin, I like our picks and other so called Experts are the saying the same.

  3. Brock, Culliver, Cook, Wright, Cox, Morris, Swanson, Johnson, Acker. May the best man win.

      1. To do that you need to be able to evaluate talent during camp. That didn’t seem to happen for them at the very positions that it was needed at. If you can not evaluate talent in the draft what makes anyone think they can do it during camp. Especially at CB and WR. Fortunately they are pretty much set at wr so that won’t be much of an issue. But for Cb’s well thats still another issue.

  4. This roster is not set in stone by no means..It’s may 10th..lol..Cb’s.. every position can change.undraftees..draft picks off other teams that were cut..practice squads…It’s way too early..Get em in camp..see how it goes.

  5. I agree with this article Grant. 9ers are relying on a guy to be a #1 CB coming off a torn knee ligament. Ward may turn into a fine player but I much prefer Dennard over Ward for the reasons you stated.

    1. Should of addressed corner through free agency if they werent gonna do it in the draft, relying on Culliver is gonna be our Achilles heel this season.

  6. I guess what I really like is that the Niners are taking a specific approach to evaluating CBs now. Any system works better if you commit to it 100%. Last year it felt like we had a hybrid of on-the ball and off-the-ball guys, man-cover guys and zone guys. This year it’s clear we’re going to press WRs right on the line–even in the slot. And what I love about that most is that it sets the tone for an even more physical defense than we’ve had in the past. Which could be a very scary thing.

  7. The NFL talking heads just gave the 9ers draft an A and that without our 7th Rd shockers

    1. Its been a great draft despite some people’s complaints about not getting a speed WR or outside CB early.

    2. I dont really like the talking heads much… every year they give the Patriots a good grade but somehow they are not a very talented team. They are an OK team with a great qb, in a crap division. But their best players outside of Tom Brady were almost all traded for.

    3. I don’t know how that’s possible since all the draft picks but one were rated B’s. The Rams had the best draft in the division. Three solid starters in the first 2 rounds. If they had a quarterback they’d be a real tough team. Lucky they got an Alex Smith’s clone in Sam Bradford.

  8. I believe this years draft as well as last [especially if Lattimore gets back to 100%] will keep the 9ewrs at or near the top for the next 5 to 8 years. Can you imagine a two headed running attack of Hyde and a healthy Lattimore?

      1. Given that he hasn’t practiced yet this season, I’d say that’s a guess and not an opinion.

    1. Or imagine one of those two, Hyde and Lattimore, matched with Millard if he gets back to full speed.

      1. Extremely happy about C Hyde and T Millard picks had both in my mock draft here-strong picks,I haven’t looked this morning was Loston LSU taken as a UDFA?

  9. The 49ers don’t place the same emphasis on their outside CBs that Grant and many of the bloggers on here do. They are happy to go with athletic guys and develop them up. They’ve done it again this year. Johnson and Acker are bigger guys that can move. They’ll add them to the mix and train them up.

    Reaser is smaller but fast and aggressive (and a red shirt prospect).

    As Jack has pointed out numerous times, they had one key hole to fill in the defensive backfield and they filled it with Ward. Slot CB. Dennard is not a slot CB.

      1. ill take my chances on a niner team that finds free agent corners and plugs them in to be starters in the nfl. Brown was a 5th round pic, brock an undrafted free agent. If i remember correctly the niners were 6th on pass defense last year. Terrel brown missed 5 of those games and carlos rodgers sucked. Culliver is better than both when healthy and ill take our first rounder to cover slot receivers over rodgers. Thats a no brainer. Seen this guy in college and his quickness will blanket slot receivers.. Add to the fact you put him in the dime and nickel and he will thump the ball carrier in a running situation. Ill take 3 safteties that can cover and hit on the field at the same time.

        1. if i recall all those guys took a season or two to develop, which means we still have a hole at LCB

      2. No, Grant, it is not a hole. You are just stirring it up again. Any chance you might grow up this year and write up to your considerable abilities or will you just continue with the lazy stuff?

        In your article, you completely ignored the obvious shift to a new DB philosophy of 1-high with man pressure on the line, a la Seattle. You have ignored the addition of Cook. You ignored the fact that the best rookie DB in the NFL last year was Eric Reid, followed by Trufant, Vaccaro, Mathieu, Robey, and Ryan, only 1 of which was a 1st round outside corner, which is apparently an indispensable ingredient in your recipe for Niners backfield success. Weren’t you the one saying last year’s defensive backfield would be the worst in the league? Didn’t it rank #7?

        Come on, Grant, be better. Please!!!

          1. Or the Niners switch their scheme to fit the size of their new CBs; or did they already do that, explaining why they now have 3 CBs 6’+ … ?

            Think about it! Haven’t you heard some of the rumblings about a scheme shift on D this year? I have.

            I’d like to see you write about what you think this draft portends for next season. It’s a challenging assignment and somebody will do it (probably best in the biz Kawakami), but you could take a stab yourself, yesno?

            1. As in, Brandon Flowers or D Revis playing in systems not tailored to their strengths.

              Wonder how Sherman would look if he played on last year’s Niner team that consistently have receiver 10 yard cushions, instead of the Seahawks, which played on the line and held WRs on every single play…

              1. You just compared Chris Cook and Chris Culliver to Revis and Sherman. C’mon, son.

              2. Brandon Maxwell was a 6th round pick and looked very good due to the style of defence Seattle plays.

                49ers are looking for size strength and speed and leaving the rest up to the Coaching staff. We’ll see if it works.

      3. I agree with Grant. It is a hole not yet addressed. Competition and coaching up before the start of the season may change that. But right now it looks like a hole.

    1. All you have to do is look at the fact we had a small 5th round pick starting the past 3 years and the lack of high picks used, to know this team doesn’t place a high emphasis on the position. Rightly or wrongly, they feel they can find capable CB’s later in the draft. Seattle is exactly the same way with 5th and 6th round picks starting at Corner for them.

      Their biggest need was slot Corner and they filled it. The rest of the draft has likely set them up with multiple future starters.

      They used this draft and all the picks they had in it, exactly as I had hoped they would. This was an excellent draft class for the Niners…even without the legendary Epic Fales.

      1. The biggest need was left corner, not slot corner — although both were needs. The left corner plays almost twice as much as the slot corner.

        1. They needed a slot CB more than an outside guy. Playing time has nothing to do with it.

        2. You are the most disingenuous blogger of all time!!!

          Pull up your article from last year about how the Niners were going to get torched repeatedly by Percy Harvin clones and refresh your memory on what your purported views are.

          Thanks.

      2. They had two really big needs going in – slot CB and 3rd WR. They got the slot CB in the 1st round and Stevie Johnson via trade. Problems solved.

        After that they could fill their other not quite as big holes as the draft dictated. Centre, CB, ILB, RB, wherever the value was at the pick. Good strategy.

        1. LCB is the biggest need by a wide margin. Cox and Wright are better than Culliver and Cook, and LCB is on the field twice as often as the nickel back. A third receiver is on the field infrequently for the 49ers.

          Culliver allowed a 97 passer rating from Week 6 through the Super Bowl two seasons ago. He stunk. Chris Cook was even worse last season. He gave up a 140 passer rating and 9 TDs in 2013.

          1. You’re about the only one I’ve seen with that opinion Grant. Slot CB and speed at WR were the biggest perceived needs the whole offseason.

          2. I disagree. I think Culliver is better than you give him credit for, and Cook and Wright are also there to compete for that spot and have talent.

            As I said many times before the draft, I doubt any of the first round CBs would have beaten out Culliver, Cook or Wright for a starting outside CB spot anyway. Dennard I thought was the most pro ready, to start on the outside, but even he has his flaws in coverage.

            Ward on the other hand does have a shot at beating out Wright or Cox for the slot CB role. He’s a good fit for that spot. He might not win it, but I think he is a better shot than Dennard would have been for the outside.

            1. Dennard probably would have beaten out Culliver. Culliver is not good, and Cook is worse even though he has talent.

              1. Fair enough. I don’t consider allowing a 97 passer rating over a 14-game stretch to be a fluke. Until Culliver can can locate the deep ball in the air, he’s a problem.

              2. You used to beat the Culliver drum louder than anybody on here.

                Liar liar alarmist fool.

                Be better. Thanks.

          3. first of all: i think culliver suffered in ’12 because the safety’s were just as bad as him ( of worse) at locating the ball on deep passing plays. weve had the overhaul at the position that ive been waiting for. now we have 3 safety’s with ball skills.
            second: your selling low on cook. reminds me a lot of carlos rodgers. big bodie guy drafted high and based off draft position being labeled a bust…..on a bad team. he could really have a break out year. good pass rush good safety help. good against the run making passing situations way more obvious. i see brock, cook and ward being the top 3 cb’s for a huge portion of the year anyway ( cullever suspension) with cox and wright being serviceable 4 and 5.
            third: i love ward! the guy has instincts, ball skills, coverage ability and hes a good tackler. hes tough like a safety where i see most cb’s in the diva mold. i think this guy could be our #1 cb sooner than later!!! and i also think if his body can handle 20 more lbs …..he could start at SS in 2-3 years!!!!!!!

            Dennard might be an all-pro of he might be a bust. if your gonna trade up for a guy you better be sure hes gonna be THAT good.I would have liked M.

            1. ***liked M. Bryant at wr or breeland or desir in the 4th. i can only chalk it up to the fact that: they know more about guys character and toughness and desire because they get to meet them whereas we do not! therefore we drool over guys based on height, weight and 40 times.

              I love the draft we had! we got the best rb and center ! center was the only spot up for grabs and i was nervous about handing it to kilgore. and as much as i love franky…..him averaging 1 yard a carry against seattle prevented us from choking those bums out after we had ‘em against the ropes. Hyde, at 235, running with bad intentions!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the thought is getting me jacked up right now! thats the guy this football team has been missing! thats the guy who embodies the philosophy of jim Harbaughs approach to the game of football!

            2. Rogers never gave up 9 TDs in a season like Cook did last season. The most Rogers ever gave up was 4.

              1. Cook was poorly miscast in the Vikings D. I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do at the 49ers. Should be interesting to see if he can live up to his athletic talent.

              2. Cook was pretty bad but looks the part. He’s already said they’ve told him he’ll be playing press man most of the time. It’ll be a bonus if they get anything out of him.

                I’m hoping Wright shows up this year too. Guy is a decent player when he actually gives a damn.

          4. You’ve conveniently ignored the fact that in the second half of the 2012 season the 49ers defensive line was in shambles because of injuries to Aldon Smith & Justin Smith. Every team torched the 49ers secondary since the pass rush was non-existent. All the 49ers cornerbacks had terrible passer ratings in the second half of the season because of the lack of a pass rush. If you don’t have a pass rush even the best secondary will get torched.

          5. Grant… What do the the 49ers offensive tendencies have to do with their DB situation? O_o

            “LCB is the biggest need by a wide margin. Cox and Wright are better than Culliver and Cook, and LCB is on the field twice as often as the nickel back. A third receiver is on the field infrequently for the 49ers.”

        2. Scooter,
          I am going to agree with both you and Grant. The Niner 2014 draft gets an A minus. The minus is for the hole at corner. The A is for the rest of the draft — all the holes they filled you mention and a lot more.
          Thus I would not change a thing.

  10. lets see…….. We have cohn sharing his trememdous insight on who the niners should draft. Thankfully its just an opinion. Ill leave the drafting of players in the hands of professionals that do it for a living and not from journalists.

  11. Shout out to Scooter
    As best I recall it was he who said if the 9ers didn’t get a targeted guy in the 1st that they’d move on CB later on, not necessarily 2nd or 3rd. I would have guessed 3/4 not as late as they did.

    1. Cheers Brotha. Razor also said the same thing.

      I’ve been saying they’d take Dontae Johnson later on for the past month – really happy with that pick. I think he’ll compete with Cook and Culliver for one CB spot, with Brock taking the other.

      1. That you did and so they did and now I hope Dontae lives up to it. If he is a very quick study (cause he has a long way to go) then that hole at corner is filled.

        As a Piere Desir fan I hope you are right. Piere was taken two picks before by a team that two days before drafted my other favorite Gilbert and did not need him with Hayden on the other side. So I am guessing Dontae J was Niner second choice. Just a guess though.

  12. It sure sounds like harbaugh wasnt giving a glowing endorsement on lattimores progress when he was being interviewed on espn. I think that last years 4th round flyer could have been a swing and miss. The drafting of a running back in the second round may justify my thinking

    1. That’s how I interpreted it too. Also, the 2nd round pick makes a statement on its own in that regard. Actions speak louder than words.

    2. I think the defining statement was when Latt said he is all the way back “except for that initial burst, but that comes last”. Woah! Having that initial burst to hit the hole is what makes or breaks a RB in the NFL. I don’t know enough about his particular injury but it is possible that He might never get it back.

    1. Straight to his worst performance I see…

      Like David Amerson last year, he has some things to work on. But he’ll be trained up to play as a press CB for the 49ers. Great athletic ability to work with.

      1. Johnson played safety, corner and slot corner for the Wolfpack the last two seasons. That’s exactly the type of versatility that Baalke and Harbaugh look for in the draft.

          1. Either way, as the video shows he is playing in the slot and outside using a variety of techniques. The 49ers have a knack for being able to plug and play with the cornerback spot.

            1. Johnson is a developmental guy, not a plug-and-play guy. He probably won’t play any of those spots next season. He could be good down the line, though.

              1. I agree with that – he is definitely a development guy. He probably won’t play much this year – I’d expect Culliver and Cook to beat him out of a starting spot. Wright too.

                But he’s a good fit for what the 49ers are after. Very similar to Chris Cook.

  13. I think Baalke provided Donatell with more than enough raw talent to work with. What will help the secondary, is the way Trent strengthened the middle of the field with physicality….

  14. Grant,
    This draft showed Baalke’s hand and what he thinks of the team: The difference wasn’t philosophy or players. The pieces are already here. He surrounded Kaep with veteran WRs who know how to run routes, and backed him up with a stable of RBs and beefy lineman. If he doesn’t break through it’s never going to happen. A speedy rookie WR doesn’t help Kaep if he can’t read the defense anyway.
    For Defense he got a stable of CBs, but what he really should have done was get another stud rushing OLB or DE.
    In a vacuum it’s hard to fault this draft of solidifying the team, but the division is going to be super tough and the Seahawks look like they want to repeat. I think Green Bay could be dangerous.

    1. Fan,
      Somehow I would have been surprised if you had missed your chance (even during draft) to take a shot at Kaep.

      You have become the 2010 version of 23Jordan. I’m waiting for you to echo the words “the 49ers will never win a Superbowl with Kaep at QB” (lol).

      I do give you kudos for being consistent.

  15. You rarely have anything positive to say about the Niners…makes me wonder, did you intern under Ray Ratto? WRT the CB position, if Harbaugh and Baalke feel good about their secondary, including Jimmie Ward, Dontae Johnson and the rest, I’m fine with that. It’s their team and they know a heckuva lot more about player evaluations than you, me and everyone else who posts in your blog. Why not try to write a positive article about the draft…or is that beyond your capabilities?

    1. Frank: You stated if Harbaugh and TB feel good about their secondary that you are fine with it. I would have agreed with you, but then last season happened. They felt the same way about their WR. corps and didn’t see any reason to bring add more viable receivers before training camp. Harbaugh said he felt good about the WR too. Interesting that the positions that they don’t feel the need to address in the drafta are at CB, and WR. I suppose last year was a wake up call in respect to WR for them so they did address it to a degree. I hope the same doesn’t have to happen in respect to CB. This year. Harbaugh never had to deal with a 53 man cut down in college so he never had to make quick choices. He had far more time to evaluate players. I felt he made quite a few mistakes in that respect last season and it seemed to have validated itself by the musical chairs roster moves through out the year.

  16. I agree Grant. Dennard would have filled a better hole than does Ward. Trading to get to 24 would not have been costly.

    1. AES,
      Would you have even sacrificed the Niner’s last pick in this rich draft let alone a bunch of other higher picks required to move seven or more spots. That seventh rounder netted the best full back in this draft who if healthy next year could alone outshine D Dennard.

      1. As low as he was they probably would have been able to sign him as a free agent. Not many teams value the full back position as highly as do the 49ers. Lets just see how many of those late draft picks are on the roster after the 53 man cut down.

        1. Millard wasn’t brought in to play just fullback. He can line up at TE, FB or as the single set back. The 49ers likely would have had a hard time getting him as an UDFA.

      2. Bruce,
        I like Trey Millard and had him in one of my mocks, but I seriously don’t know if he makes the team. Dennard would have had a much higher reward than TM even he makes the team.

        Dennard would have garnered much more playing time than Millard and possibly even had a chance to bump Culliver while TM’ best value might be special teams.

        Having said that, I’m still very happy with the Ward pick and see him making a contribution as a rookie.

  17. I am loving this draft!!! This looks to be a very strong draft for our beloved niners!!! A+ imo and i cant see how anyone could rate below an A! Our guys will work their asses off….And show they belong in the nfl!!!

      1. Yes. He said, “The depth at that position within the draft in the early part of the draft just wasn’t where it has been in past years.”

          1. I thought that the depth at CB was better than that because these guys had to cover a fleet of best WRs in a long time. Still think they are better than cred given.
            Also they just got buried in stiff competition from so many other categories. Baalke consistantly went for best available and CBs just did not live up in his view. After all they were up against best RB, best center, one of the best guards, etc. Hard to compete with that.

    1. Yep I have to eat the Crow on this one. I liked the CB group in this draft. Shows what I know.

      1. I too eat crow rocket. But as I just stated they could not compete when Baalke was drafting for “best available” first and “need” second. I cannot argue with that approach as he pulled some serious gems out of a rich draft.

    2. Oh yeah, you watched each corner’s game tape and interviewed them at the combine? I forgot you were a GM in a former life. You and Newsome are pretty on equal footing when it comes to football talent evaluation, so I’m glad to hear your opinion was in line with his, very reassuring.

    3. I don’t know that much about individual players but from what I read this was not really a draft that had too many quality CB’s. It just had quantity which is why I thought that Wr should be addressed first. Most evaluations gave the CB class a C-. Were as the wider receivers got an A- rating.

  18. Grant says “It would have been easy for the 49ers to trade a couple of those picks to move up a few spots and get Dennard”. That’s impossible to know unless you are in every single teams war room.

    I do agree on the Culliver scenario. He is an unknown at this point but don’t worry, my man T.Brock will be even better this year and will be a lock down corner for the scondary.

    It’s not an ideal situation for a team that’s ready to win now but the secondary had to be rebuilt and it’s clear Baalke is trying to do that. Hopefully some of these draft picks turn out to be instant contributors week one vs. Dallas.

    1. Good point Prime,
      They may have had to go up 10 slots just to find a team willing to work with them and that would be a lot of lost players that they just drafted that will be filling a lot of needs.

  19. Ward is not a wildcard. He is a steal. Clearly any 4th rounder has inherent questions, but this is the deepest draft in 20 years according to Gil Brandt. Many 3rd and 4th rounder’s would have been 2nd rounder’s last year. I would argue that this years 2nd or 3rd round is stronger than the 1st round in 2012.

    Culliver was always set to become the starter, Brock is ascending and Reid, Bethea and Ward are better than Reid, Whitner and Rogers (those two were awful in coverage). Few cb’s were taken in the 2nd and 3rd round this year for a reason. This draft will provide us 3-4 impact players this year.

    1. Furthermore, going after Dennard would have meant no Ward plus a number of other “steals” in this draft.

  20. T was talking on KNBR about how the league has changed because of the wide open offenses. Its not having a shut down CB that is so important anymore, it is the 4th or 5th corner. Teams can put 4 or 5 WR formations out there and will attack the weakest link. Ward has the potential to fill that role perfectly with his speed and ferocious tackling ability, and is likely to develop into a great middle of the field guy. He sees things develop quickly and makes plays.
    Seems 9ers staff decided to go for quantity with the secondary and develop a corner than give up picks to get a better known quantity who may or may not pan out. The late round CBs selected (Johnson/Acker/Reaser) look very intriguing. This draft looks darn good.

    1. It’s been the case for a while that teams will identify and attack your weakest link. However, saying that, “It’s not having a shut down CB that is so important anymore.” flies in the face of contracts given out this year to Revis, Sherman, and Talib.

  21. I love this draft for the same reason said above…the future. As for the CB situation, I don’t think it’s dire. I also don’t think the 49ers are relying on Culliver to be the #1 because Brock is poised to be our #1 and he does a great job finding the ball in the air.

    I think two things are at play here…one Ward has potential to take over for Bethea if he starts to decline. But the second thing that stands out is that Baalke (and Fangio) has said they like safeties that are interchangeable, but they really seem to like DB that are interchangeable and can play both CB, FS, and SS. I think Fangio could be on the cusp of a coverage scheme development that will be almost absolutely hidden. Now maybe I’m giving him too much credit, but Culliver was a safety turned corner, Ried hasn’t played corner but has excellent coverage skills and could probably step up and cover the slot on occasion. I’m curious to see where this is going.

    1. Throwing the mud on the wall with even more to come from rookie free agency. Coaching and competition will see who sticks.

      1. The throwing mud on the wall is exactly what I don’t like about this front office. It reeks of not being able to evaluate talent. Right now they have a huge number of picks but for the foreseeable future those picks will start to diminish. They should not be wasted and used to cover up the inability to evaluate talent at certain specific positions. There is talk about not wasting picks to move up but nothing about wasting those picks on multiple picks to see who will stick. Lets just see how many players will end up getting cut or lost on waivers to other teams before we get so excited about this years class. Most of those seventh rounders could have been had through free agency as well. Well they did trade on so good for them for that. I do suspect they tried to trade more but couldn’t for that reason as well.

  22. Grant just like ur ass of a father. Please become a beat writer for the Raiders so we don’t have the pain to but up with your manure. ~thank you Niner Fans

  23. You’re so ridiculous…your statements about Culliver not getting it done on the field are simply untrue. He’s a great 2nd CB and so long as he’s not suspended, he and we will be fine.

    1. Chewie: Indeed, Johnson is crafty and feisty WR. I can’t wait to see him how the NIners use him on offense.

      After Marshawn was traded out of Buffalo, Johnson became their one bright spot.

  24. Grant,
    I agree with your take on this article. I too wish the Niners had spent some of their draft capital to move up in round one, once it was clear Dennard was available after pick 20. Now we just have to hope Ward works out as a slot corner at the pro level, and Culliver somehow keeps his personal S@#@* together, learns to turn and see the ball, and recovers completely from his injury. That’s a lot of hoping. But, other than that, and a questionable red shirt pick at 100, I think it was a very sound draft. I’m really excited about the Carlos Hyde pick, Ellington pick and the addition of Stevie Johnson. I believe the Niners are going to win the Super Bowl this season. Go Niners!

    1. So Bar none,
      How many of those “sound” draft picks are you willing to sacrifice for Dennard and remember you may have to go up 10 slots and give up a lot to find and convince a trading partner.
      So who will it be Hyde, Ellington, Martin, Ward, Thomas, Johnson, Millard, next years pick to balance the Johnson trade or all of the above. Here is the rough math. Ward is a given sacrifice so then add Hyde and maybe even Ellington and you have the adequate sacrifice for the required trade up.
      This is a bumper crop from a very deep draft. Thus it fills every hole on the team (but one) and future needs as well. Even if Dennard is a solid corner he could not match this haul.

      1. I am not saying they should have moved up specifically for Dennard but other than the move up to the second spot for Watkins it was not that expensive to move up to the middle of the round specifically because it was a deep draft. They had a lot of picks at the very end of the draft that were totally wasted. Just used for the mud that they intended to throw against he wall.

          1. So Bar None and Willtalk are the same person…

            No they aren’t! If you look at the time stamp you’ll notice my post was made 3:59 pm and Willtalks post at 12:24am. It does appear as if Willtalk responded to the questions that BruceZ posed in response to my post but I assure you, he is not me. I am never awake and posting at 12:30 am, lol.

            PS, Jack, I think the majority of the posters on this blog suspect that YOU and Grant are the same person, so you have a lot of nerve making such accusations. lol

      2. So Bar none,
        How many of those “sound” draft picks are you willing to sacrifice for Dennard and remember you may have to go up 10 slots and give up a lot to find and convince a trading partner.

        I think we could have made the move up to 24 where Dennard was selected for our 1st and a 3rd. We could have traded 30 and 77 for 22-24. I like Borland a lot but he and ILB wasn’t an immediate need. CB was. I suspect Borland could have been had later than 77 too . And I would have thrown in Brandon Thomas’ 100 slot if needed though I don’t think we would needed to. Dennard will be a star corner in the NFL.

  25. In the 49ers’ media clips on Trey Millard: “An accomplished writer and has two poems published.”

  26. I guess instead of focusing on the entire draft, now that the rams drafted Michael Sam, that is all we are going to hear about for the next 2 weeks

  27. defensive backfield…
    cornerback….safety….. you name it.
    This much is clear:
    if the opponents score more than the niners,
    we do not bring home Lombardi trophy #6.

    Note to Coach Harbaw: …. MAKE IT HAPPEN, fella.

    This is gonna be a very, very long off season.
    (” I already got mine,” sez Pete Carroll)

      1. Leo
        May I respectfully offer my opinion that neither you nor the rest of us should EVER engage that moron for even one second. Ignore his posts. Don’t feed the troll. There is zero chance you will ever get anything cogent from this emotional cripple. Completely bonkers. Remember the words usually attributed to Mark Twain:
        Never argue with an idiot, a passer-bye might not be able to tell who is who.

        1. Thanks tuna, and i completely agree. The only reason i did was because it seemed like i may have gotten under his skin the other day. I was just seeing if i could strike that same note.

          But you’re right. I think most do a pretty good job on this.

  28. Solid draft. Ward is Charles Woodson at safety. Hyde is a bowling ball. Stevie Johnson will be dancing in the end zone. We’re scary good.

    1. Woodson was the No.4 pick in the draft. Ward isn’t close to Woodson’s caliber.

      1. Key word at safety not corner. Woodson played safety later in his career. He was still a pro bowler there. I see him a a versatile player. That’s what I meant. Wasn’t Woodson a number 2 pick? Can’t remember. ..:/

      2. Says “Cohn”?

        Woodson is my favorite defender since Chuck Haley/Pierce Holt, so while I agree that putting Ward up against Woodson begs doubt, even “The Great Iggy” comment hurts.

        Life goes on✨

  29. Grant as far as Culliver goes, yes the hit and run, Driving on suspended, and brass knuckles thing was the wrong choice and a mistake, As far as the so called gay comment ,That’s way way overrated what did he say ( I don’t do gay’s), Have u checked your Twitter Timeline lately Grant? Look at all the professional athletes along with the regular man living his regular life , 50% have the N word , ending in A or R , Big Deal, Now u might not able to trust him off the field yet and poss never, But on the field u acting like he can’t play , Sorry but i thought he played better then almost every rookie his 1st year and played better then most veterans his 2nd year. I do agree with u on the knee, every person responds diff to injury and yes there’s a chance that ACL injury might reacurr and end things early , or cause him speed and agility. But if he comes back like he was before he’s good enough. I can see the smirk on your face from here Grant but I’m right.You know dam well these 49ers CBs just have to be good enough to get it done, and I believe there better then good enough, And the reason why, well it’s like this The other teams QB can’t complete a pass when he’s on his back. Yes we were prob only 18-19th in team sacks, but the pressure they put on up front is pretty dam good and those Qbs are feeling and it’s making them see ghosts and other things that arguely aren’t there all the time, That pressure is helping out are CBs out tremendously , the more the pressure the less time Those DBS got to cover..we’re in May u know there’s always teams that cut good players that still can play at a high level all the way up to the final cuts and last preseason game, I can see where your coming from but I don’t think this is what u call gambling on wild cards, If your talking about Wild Cards then mention Bowman and his knee, He’s just as important or more important then anyone on D. To me he’s the Wild Card

    1. Culliver allowed a 97 passer rating during the final 14 games of 2012. That isn’t close to being good enough.

      1. what were Brown, Rogers and the Safties individual against passer ratings in that time frame? how was the pass rush? what was the defense’s over all passer rating? what was the over all defense’s rating against the run and pass?

        I’m not saying you’re entirely wrong about Culliver. I think he’s fine in press coverage but can be beaten deep when his guy gets by him or he’s in deep zone. but with all stats, I think some context needs to be considered and my memory of 2012 was that the defense started to get soft at the same time Kaepernick and offense began to give opponents problems.

        1. The main problem Culliver has is locating the ball in the air when he has his back to the QB. That is why he gave up the 97 passer rating – he gave up some big plays where he failed to locate the ball in the air.

          1. Yep. If he can correct that, and that’s a big if, he’ll be worth keeping around…..

          2. I got a good look at Culliver when the 49ers last hosted the Giants. My brother scored some great tickets and we were on the side he was covering. CVulliver was step for step with the receiver. On him like a blanket. Then he turned to locate the ball. Its as if the brakes were slammed on. He almost stopped, and the WR caught the long bomb.

            He has to improve location… and also learn to maintain speed when he turns his head.

            1. That’s exactly what I see too Brodie. Its as if he forgets he’s allowed to still run forwards once he turns his head. As soon as his head turns, he loses speed and the WR he’s been running step for step with gets some separation.

              If he cleans that up he would be a very good cover CB, because everything else he does in coverage is really quite good.

              1. Yup. Tough thing to clean up, though. Some people can track a ball while running full speed, and some people cannot. If Culliver can’t by now, I wouldn’t hold my breath that he will develop the ability.

              2. I don’t think he has trouble tracking the ball once he’s located it. He has trouble locating it in the first place.

                I’ve no idea how coachable that is.

              3. That’s what I mean. He slows down to locate the deep ball. He struggles to sprint and locate and track.

              4. “He struggles to sprint and locate and track.”

                During training camp last season you commented that he was showing improvement in this area.

              5. I remember asking you the question, and your response was that he was showing improvement.

              6. Honest — I don’t remember that. I remember him struggling in a turn-and-locate drill. I also remember him turning and locating and knocking away a pass in the end zone in one practice. But he went down early.

              7. That was a while ago and you’re getting up there in age so I’ll cut you some slack.

                Thanks for running the live blogs the last few days.

              8. He participated in a few practices and I wasn’t watching his every move. I promise I will watch him like a hawk at mini camps and OTAs and training camp.

              9. Seriously though, when you guys are in that media trailer are you stuck watching the draft on the TV?

                I caught it just enough to solidify my belief that Mayock is a total fraud.

              10. @Jack
                Mayock is a world champion peckerwood with a world champion speech impediment. That lithp that impacth hith every sententh maketh him impothible to take theriothly.

                I found it most horrific yesterday when he got John Harbaugh on the video monitor and starter referring to him as “Johnny” and “Harbs”, saying to America in front of Johnny Harbs that the coach routinely calls him to check in and make sure he’s making smart personnel moves.

                They’re all so full of themselves, it makes you, Jackie Hammer, look modest by comparison.

                Which is saying something…

                err… thaying thumbthing.

              1. I’m guessing this was artful “plan C” draft by Baalke.

                Plan A – In the WR/QB frenzy Beckham or Fuller slide down to a spot that could be had with the 30+77 or 30+61. Receivers and BPAs later.

                Plan B – In the WR/QB/CB frenzy BPA studs like Donald or Barr slide down to a spot that could be had with the 30+61 or 30+56. Receivers and BPAs later.

                But Baalke doesn’t over pay for free agents or draft picks. He sets a value limit and won’t exceed it.

                Plan C – If you can’t fill THE need in the first round, fill A need in the first. Ward counters Welker/Harvin/Austin (I’m sure I’m leaving some out) and provides deep safety depth. Our backfield just got alot faster.

                Then have fun, grab value and stock the team with solid rookies to make cap room for the bigger names. “The best center in the draft…” “the best running back in the draft..” Works for me.

              2. I caught it just enough to solidify my belief that Mayock is a total fraud.
                ———
                I’m sorry but how long have I been saying that now?

            2. Vernon improved in a similar fashion. He’s fast, but he lost speed running routes. He’s improved. We can hope.

            3. They have these small rear view mirrors that they attach to bicycle helmets no so they can see behind them and not have to turn their heads. Perhaps if he put one of those on his helmet.

          3. That was the probelm with Culliver last season….this season, the problem seems to be that he may not make it to the field because of his utter stupidity…..physical errors can be corrected with coaching and hard work…..stupidity is hard to correct with coaching and hard work..

      2. You’re too high on numbers Grant. They don’t show the intangibles.
        Reading through the posts this weekend, found myself agreeing with a lot of what Scooter posted. Good job!

  30. I’m just miffed that Jordan Mathews will be playing for Chip Kelly !
    (but the wife is happy … cuz I won’t be droppin’ a C-Note
    on another jersey anytime soon) ..

    on another note .. what if .. the CBs we got (now) are there for Har-Baalke
    to figure out if Cully can be unseated or not ?

    Hey .. it could happen !

  31. Those asserting that a trade up to get Dennard would have been easy are not looking closely enough at what actually happened in the draft. KC obviously wanted Dee Ford and would have been very concerned about Phi and NE picking him instead. Phi took one third to go down 4 spots. It would have taken at least 2 thirds to move up 8 spots, plus Phi again being worried about NE taking their guy. NO moved up 7 spots to take Cooks, but I highly doubt Ari would have traded in Division with the Niners. I don’t see how the Niners go get Dennard without giving up #61 and I don’t think anyone would seriously advise making that move.

  32. I don’t think the 49ers were ever that interested in Dennard. Fuller was the CB they liked.

    Sadly they never had a real shot at getting him. I have it on pretty good authority that the Steelers actually already had Fuller’s name down on their draft card ready to hand in, but the Bears surprised them by taking him at #14. Started quite the chain reaction because the Cowboys were on the phone at the time to Shazier telling him they were going to take him at #16…

    1. It was Fuller all along. Scooter, how high up the hierarchy of authority are you connected?

      1. That’s the story I’ve heard from my brother. According to my brother the Steelers let a fan into the ‘War Room’ each year. This year that fan happens to also post on the message boards my brother is on.

        Anyway, apparently he got to see the Steelers draft board which had Fuller as their top rated player available, and he saw the draft card. Since it has now been verified that the Cowboys were on the phone to Shazier, I’m willing to believe the rest of the story.

  33. A couple of thoughts. First, the Niners should have traded up. There was value that they barely missed out on both at WR and CB. Makes me wonder if people would not trade up with them. Not wanting the rich to get richer.

    Second thought, by not grabbing a QB are the Niners confident that they can upgrade Gabberts play?

    Guess the Niners don’t feel they need a field stretcher. Instead going in the direction of WR’s that can win matchups all over the field.

    Last thought, you’ll see the Niners pick up other teams castoffs at CB. Confident of that.

    I see that a developmental QB was picked up in the 7th round. Some great QB named Fales. Not….

    Grant why am I banned again?

      1. Yes quite perfect. D. Fales will find a Trestman version of the West Coast waiting for him. His check down strengths and field awareness will fit in nicely.

    1. I sort of got that impression that other teams might not want to trade with the Niner’s once they became a consistent contender. I think that might be the problem TB is facing in getting rid of late picks for futures. We haven’t seen a lot of that lately.

    1. That is an outstanding UDFA pickup if he has indeed picked the 49ers over the Raiders.

        1. As far as I understand it the roster spots to be used on draft picks are available until the draft picks sign their contracts, and guys that go straight to PUP don’t count for a roster spot. Can anyone verify if that is accurate?

      1. @ShayneSkov 4h
        Don’t know where the whole Oakland thing came from… But I’m headed to the 49ers, gunna make my mark in this league before it’s all over

  34. Just reading through the posts, Grant, you’re too high on numbers and percentages. That don’t show intangibles.
    Reading the posts, I’d scroll back to the top of the post to see who wrote the ones I agreed with and found Scooters name on them a lot! Just a shout out to Scooter. Good job!

  35. This will be a frustrating draft for fans. Every fan favorite at some point in the draft the Niners had a shot at before Baalke traded back and back again for more players that we’ve never heard of, or seem marginal players. I think this was a very solid front end of the draft, nothing great. The back end will be about development.

    1. The problem with the Niners, unlike their situation a few years ago, is that they don’t have the roster spots for developing players. They either have to put them on IR or try to get them through waivers which is more difficult now because other teams will gladly take the Niners cast offs. What TB might try doing this season is to be proactive in trading vets if he believes that they will be excess, well prior to the 53 man cutdown, to avoid the situation that cost them both Gray and Cooper. The team entered an entirely new phase and the front office needs to recognize that and adjust accordingly.

  36. Scouting report on Jimmie Ward from SI..

    “He timed 4.49 at his pro day, but I don.t see that speed on the field. He played more like a 4.55 type. Ward is a quick reactor with good instincts. He shows good anticipation and is around the ball. He is effective as a run support player, showing the ability to take on and shed blocks and is a consistent tackler. He is used to blitz at times and does a good job coming off the edge. When in man coverage, he shows the turn and mirror skills needed. He has a good jam and does well versus shorter routes. He doesn.t have the long speed to consistently cover deep, but has good ball reactions and closes well to make plays. In zone, he shows good awareness. He has the anticipation and range to get to the sideline from the hash. For the most part, he keeps plays in front of him and does not get beaten deep. Overall, Ward has the instincts and skills to be an eventual starting strong safety in the NFL. I see him as a solid third-round type, with the foot injury potentially dropping him to the fourth.”

    1. So he actually ran that 40 time but this analyst ‘doesn’t see it?’ So is the stopwatch wrong or the analyst? I get that measurables don’t tell everything about the player, but fast is fast and opinions are opinions. That also seems to be a minority opinion of draft position as most opinions I read had him initially at the end of the second, but then moved him up to borderline 1/2. You aren’t cherry picking like Grant are you?

      1. If you want to see some differing scouting reports on an player check out Ellingtons. You wouldn’t even reconize them as being for the same player with the different reports giving 180 degree grade evaluations on the same category. I find him a player of real interest. Could turn out to be a Cook light. Needs work on route running but catches everything. I need to expect little because if I start to like the guy they are sure to cut him.

      2. The time at the combine is used as a constant. I personally think those times should be run with gear on and on both grass and artificial turf. Last I heard they do not play the game in shorts on a composite track. The track time does not always translate to the field. I do not understand why they scouts have not made the adjustment that I suggested. This is as archaic as measuring basket ball players at the top of their heads rather than their reach. I also don’t remember seeing a player block a shot or shoot a basket using the top of their head. These are just two reasons why I am not that impressed with sports experts level of intelligence.

  37. We now know the Alex Smith trade netted Tank Carradine, Carlos Hyde and Chris Borland.

    Borland is a bit of a head scratcher, especially since Skov signed this evening. Baalke loves “natural football instincts” and Borland has enough to spare. Some of his value could be subbing till Bowman returns, backup ILB and replacement value for Dixon on special teams. Borland and Ward seem to be good “first step” players. Their initial reaction to plays are usually the right ones.

    1. and the chiefs got a qb who led team to the playoffs, improved win total by 9 games and made pro bowl..carradine borland and hyde haven’t done anything yet..just sayin

  38. My stab at the final roster

    QB
    1. Kaepernick
    2. Gabbert

    RB
    1. Gore
    2. Lattimore
    3. Hyde
    4. Hunter

    WR
    1. Crabtree
    2. Boldin
    3. Johnson
    4. Patton
    5. Ellington
    6. Osgood

    OL/G/C
    1. Staley
    2. Iupatti
    3. M. Martin
    4. Boone
    5. Davis
    6. Kilgore
    7. J. Martin
    8. Looney

    TE
    1. Davis
    2. McDonald
    3. Celek

    FB
    1. Miller

    P/K/LS
    1. Mcdorment
    2. Lee
    3. Dawson

    DL
    1. McDonald
    2. Smith
    3. Williams
    4. Dial
    5. Carradine
    6. Dorsey
    7. Lynch
    8. Jerod-Eddie

    Safeties
    1. Bethea
    2. Reid
    3. Dahl
    4. Spillman

    CB
    1. Culliver
    2. Brock
    3. Ward
    4. Cook
    5. Wright
    6. Rookie*

    LB
    1. Willis
    2. Bowman
    3. Wilhoite
    4. Brooks
    5. Smith
    6. Lemonier
    7. Borland
    8. Skuta

    1. Bowman won’t be part of the opening day 53 man roster so that will open a spot.

      1. True, I kept him there because they do expect him back mid season……

        also how Cox played last playoff could have earned him a spot on this year roster…

    2. Oneniner: Interesting. I think Hunter is the odd man out. There is no room for him with 3 powerful runners on this team. He is a scatter back type and hasn’t really improved, even before his injury. I don’t he was never a threat to take/inherit Gore’s position in the team.

      Hunter will be trade bait after training camp, when other teams are desperate for a #2 RB.

  39. Question for those who think the 49ers should have traded up: Which player(s) drafted by the team in the top 100 would you give up?

    1. I would give up Jimmie Ward. They blew it not trading up for either Dennard or Cooks. That is where Baalke blew it IMO. If he would have done that, then this draft would have been a home run.

      Grant, why is my IP address banned? Did I use a word that offended you??????? Jesus dude. I’m sorry Fales was not the second round you pick you envisioned….

      1. No trade up required if he would have picked Lee….. The first pick, especially because of his size is a total head scratcher….

        1. Going for Lee in round 1 would have made no sense. Why use your first round pick on a guy who would almost never step on the field? It would have been an AJ Jenkins situation all over again.

  40. Now that the 2014 draft is in the books, time for my 49er draft grades!

    1 (30). Jimmie Ward, DB, Northern Illinois: B+. I really like Jimmie Ward and think this was a very solid pick. Prior to free agency I was liking Ward to play SS, but once the 49ers signed Bethea he went under the radar for most 49er fans. He’s a highly instinctive player with very good coverage skills and tackling form. And he can pack a wallop despite his relatively small frame. Should be a day 1 starter in the nickel back role.

    2 (57). Carlos Hyde, RB, Ohio State: B. Another really solid pick this one. The 49ers needed a RB that could take over short yardage situations with the departure of Dixon. Hyde brings that and more – I think he’ll be a good ‘big back’ in a 2 or 3 headed RB committee like Brandon Jacobs was at the Giants. If the 49ers get lucky, he might be even better than that…

    3 (70). Marcus Martin, OC, USC: A. This was a great pick. Arguably the best centre in the draft and he’s a chance to start from day 1, with the untried Kilgore his main competition. If he doesn’t start then he’ll provide good depth at OC and OG. Great value in the 3rd round. Could easily have been taken in the 2nd round and nobody would have blinked.

    3 (77). Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconson: B. Continuing a theme, another good, solid pick. Borland is a throwback, hard-nosed, try hard LB prospect. He’ll give it his all, and always seems to be around the ball. He’s smaller than you’d like, and not the fastest player on the field, but he’s a smart and savvy footballer that uses hits wits and desire to overcome his physical limitations similar to how Zach Thomas did. At worst he should be a great STs player, and he’ll compete for the ILB spot next to Willis while Bowman recovers.

    3 (100). Brandon Thomas, OG/OT, Clemson: A-. This was a quality pickup at the end of the 3rd round. The 49ers are one of the few teams that can afford to use draft picks on taking players that will miss the season. If not for his knee injury, he would likely have gone early to mid 2nd round. Talented player that will likely compete for the LG spot in 2015, assuming Iupati is not re-signed.

    4 (106). Bruce Ellington, WR, Southern Carolina: B. I’m possibly not as high on this kid as some are, but he provides a speed element to the offense and fits the small, shifty slot WR style the 49ers looked at in FA this year. Decent value at this point in the draft too. Can make the highlight reel catch, has great quickness to his game, and looks like a RB with ball in hand. However, he really needs some work on his route running, how to set up a DB, and identifying weak spots in coverage. I expect he will compete for the PR/KR duties this year despite limited exposure in this role in college.

    4 (129). Dontae Johnson, DB, NC State: A-. I really like this pick. I think Johnson is a perfect fit for the big press CB they want to employ. They tried Asomugha last year, and signed Chris Cook this offseason. Johnson is every bit as athletically gifted as those guys, and he’s also a smart guy (rejected an offer to go to Stanford and has already completed his degree). You don’t find many 6’2″, 200lbs guys that can turn and run like Johnson can.

    5 (150). Aaron Lynch, DE/OLB, South Florida: C+. I can’t give a player with as many question marks around attitude and commitment as Lynch comes with anything better than a C+. History shows these type of players are far more likely to flunk out of the NFL than succeed. However, he has tremendous natural talent, and if he can be motivated the 49ers could have gotten a steal here.

    5 (170). Keith Reaser, CB, Florida Atlantic: C. Haven’t seen any full game film on him, but from all reports Reaser is a fast, tough and aggressive CB that was a three year starter. Good against the run, and has pretty good timing in coverage to break on the ball. Tore his ACL this past season, and had to have a second surgery in February so will redshirt his rookie year. Sounds like he has potential, but even without his knee injury its hard to imagine he would have gone too much higher in the draft.

    6 (180). Kenneth Acker, CB, Southern Methodist: D. Hard to give a thorough grade without seeing any film on the guy, but I don’t really understand this pick to be honest, having just taken Johnson and Reaser, plus Ward in the first round. Definitely a case of adding competition and see which guys win, but its going to be very tough for Acker to win a spot on the roster this year. He does have plenty of experience as a kick returner, and that may be where the 49ers see him making the roster this year.

    7 (243). Kaleb Ramsey, DT/DE, Boston College: C. I’ve not seen any film of this guy, so I’m going on what I’ve read. Sounds like Ramsey has the talent to be a draft day steal in the 7th round, but he’s been unable to stay healthy throughout his time in college. Even in the pre-draft process he was unable to stay healthy. When fit, he apparently has nice quickness for a DL, and good strength. Another guy that will struggle to make the 53-man roster this year, but if he can stay healthy he may have the talent to do so.

    7 (245). Trey Millard, FB, Oklahoma: A-. This was a value pick to finish the draft. Millard has the skills to be a very good H-Back prospect for the 49ers. He can block, he can run, and he can catch. He’ll likely sit out 2014 due to a torn ACL last season, which is why he was available this late.

    Trade for Stevie Johnson: A. This was a great move – giving up a conditional 4th rounder (could be a 3rd) in 2015 for Johnson gives the 49ers 3 accomplished WRs for a relatively small price, providing the team with one of the deepest and most dangerous offenses in the NFL. It also freed the team to go BPA on day 2, which paid dividends.

    49ers Draft Strategy: A-. According to Baalke the 49ers did indeed explore the possibility to move up into the early teens for a player, maybe Beckham or Fuller, but the cost was too high. It was a good decision not to pay over the odds for either guy. Sitting at #30 and getting Ward was also a smart decision once their top trade-up targets were gone. The trade for Johnson was very good, and they got good value through day 2 while also getting an extra pick in 2015 to replace the pick given up for Stevie Johnson. Day 3 got the team some good value picks too, and a couple more redshirt guys, though with 6 picks on day 3 they probably could have done a bit better on the DBs after Johnson.

    Overall Draft Grade: A-. A good, solid draft that was short on sexy picks, but long on quality and was all about the 49ers values as a football team. The trade for Stevie Johnson takes the grade from a B+ to an A-.

    1. I’m probably Ellington’s biggest fan as I had him higher than Cooks on my WR rankings, so you can take what I’m about to say with a fairly large grain of salt but I think Ellington is more than just a slot receiver. He’s tough, physical and knows how to use his body to position himself to make a catch(Basketball background huge plus). Add that to his near 40 inch vertical and I don’t see why you can’t play him outside and he showed in the SEC how he can win 50/50 balls against athletic corners. While his route-running is raw, I think that is more a product of the system he played in as he didn’t run a really diverse set of routes. I also think he sets up his breaks really well right now so he has high upside as a route-runner. Seriously the happiest I’ve been about a 49ers picksince they took Navarro Bowman in 2010.

      1. Scooter: I am actually in agreement with almost all of your evaluations. I couldn’t understand Acker pick either? Made no sense what so ever. I like -Ikamb- think Ellington might surprise us- in a good way. That is if he can break the press and learn to run routes. I do think that TB should have moved up in the first for a wr. I think the Johnson move was a fortunate recovery- kind of fell into his lap like Boldin did though. I would have used the 7th rounders to move up or roll them over to next year. While Millard was a good pick I think he could have been had as a free agent and Ramsey, well he was just filler. I think the team also thought Millard could be had as a free agent since not only did they pick him after Ramsey but it took quite some time on the clock to decide if they wanted to use the pick on him. Would have wanted to see better use to those seventh rounders because of what they cost the team. Gray and Cooper. Yes it was only one that was used but it wouldn’t make a difference between which seventh rounders they were since all three were stacked so close together.

    2. While I’m an avid college football fan, I am bias because my favorite team is Florida State. Which is why I really wanted us to draft Benjamin. But after reading your break down I ready for the season to start. We have quality WR’s and improved our secondary a lot. To me those are the areas that cost us dearly. Hopefully we can create an offensive scheme to get the most out of all our receivers. One question, what do you think we will do with disgruntled LaMichael James? I like him and feel he could be VERY useful if we put him in mismatch situations. Doesn’t seem like we are going to do that.

      1. Unless Hunter gets injured, I think James will be traded at some point prior to the start of the season to a team that needs a RB. Its a bit of a shame because I think a trio of Lattimore, Hyde and James would be a nice 3-headed RB monster in 2015. Each guy brings something different to the table.

    3. Nice Scooter,yes I am surprised we didn’t go Loston instead of Aker late,further Abrederris was on the board late and although a reprise of the kind WR we already have ,he would have been a steal.

      1. I’m not surprised about not taking Loston – they’d already drafted Ward and I was never a fan of Loston anyway. Abbrederis would have been interesting, but he was already taken by that stage. Rodgers will turn him into a Pro Bowler.

        I think they could have gotten a better value CB, someone like EJ Gaines. Or taken a strict PR/KR type such as Chris Davis or Travis Carrie at that pick, or a QB, or even Daniel McCullers to compete at NT. But I could also be writing Acker off too soon – he may surprise and could also be our new PR/KR.

    4. Good analysis Scooter. Thanks for taking the time! I’m glad that there are people like you in this blog.

    5. Scooter, good read
      I give them a B+ though because they should’ve picked up a QB too in the draft. We’re very vulnerable in that dept. Only one accident from away from losing #7……….

      1. I give it an A- only because of the trade for Stevie Johnson. That was the best move of the draft for the 49ers. Without that move it is a nice, solid, B+ kind of draft.

          1. Without the Stevie Johnson trade they would still be lacking a 3rd WR that can come in and be a key cog to the offense, and take up the slack if Crab or Boldin gets hurt. Relying on Brandon Lloyd would be too big a risk – who knows if he has anything left in the tank. Same with relying on Patton, he showed some flashes last year but didn’t do enough to feel confident he’s ready to step up and be a #3/ #2 if a guy gets hurt. And I don’t think Ellington is ready to be a big contributor this season.

            But with the Stevie Johnson trade this is an A- draft. I don’t give it an A because I don’t think they took any guys that will become truly dominant playmakers, but they got a lot of very solid looking players that should fit nicely into the team structure.

    6. Scooter
      On Lynch I have caution, but I read (perhaps on the 49er site) that Harbaugh or one of his coaches had a connection to one of Lynch’s coaches that gave some insight into the risk/reward question. Tbd

      1. Willie Taggert is that connection. Willie played for Harbaugh’s dad at Western Kentucky University. Taggert now coaches at southern Florida. So what Taggert told him as to be legit. They’ve known each other since Taggert came out of high school.

      2. Yeah, there is reason to hope, and if he is motivated he could be very good. I think he’s got more natural talent as a pass rusher than Anthony Barr. But history has not been kind to unmotivated players in the NFL. It was a hit and hope pick, which is something they could afford to do at that stage of the draft in the hope they strike gold. They get a passing grade due to the low risk attached to a 5th rounder.

  41. “From Week 6 on, Culliver allowed 8.9 yards per pass attempt and a 97 passer rating.”

    The rest of the starting secondary over that time shook out like this:

    Whitner: 131.8 rating
    Rogers: 94.6 rating
    Goldson: 73.9 rating
    Brown: 60.3 rating

  42. I have a question regarding Bethea’s contract, as I don’t think Over the Cap has it quite right in terms of our guaranteed financial commitment to him if we cut him before certain dates. Obviously, we’re committed to him for this year. But how much are we committed to him next year if he proves that (like Namdi) he just doesn’t have the legs anymore?

    If it helps, this is what Rotoworld has: 3/11/2014: Signed a four-year, $21 million contract. The deal included a $5 million signing bonus. Bethea is eligible for an annual $400,000 in per-game roster bonuses throughout the contract’s life. He gets another $100,000 per year in annual workout bonuses. Another $750,000 is available through incentives. 2014: $1.25 million, 2015: $3 million, 2016: $4.5 million, 2017: $5.25 million, 2018: Free Agent

    1. Bethea’s contract carries a cap figure of $4.75 mil for 2015 with $3.75 mil in dead money.

      1. Jack, I know that’s what Over the Cap has listed. But I’d also seen somewhere that Bethea’s $3 mil for 2015 becomes guaranteed only if he’s still on the team after April 2015. That’s the part I’m trying to decipher.

        1. Those are his numbers. They are essentiall “stuck” with him through the first 2 years.

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