NFL draft: 49ers eye Seahawks rivalry with Day 2 picks

This is my news story on Day 2 of the 49ers’ draft.

SANTA CLARA — The San Francisco 49ers must have made their second- and third-round picks with the Seattle Seahawks in mind.

The Niners needed a cornerback. During the offseason they lost Chris Culliver and Perrish Cox, both of their starting cornerbacks from last season.

When it was time for the Niners to make their selection in Round 2 (they owned the 14th pick), two of the best cornerbacks in the draft still were available — Eric Rowe from Utah and Ronald Darby from Florida State.

The Niners passed on both of them and took former Samford safety Jaquiski Tartt.

Safety wasn’t a pressing need. Last year, the Niners spent a first-round pick on safety Jimmie Ward. Two years ago, they spent a first-round pick on safety Eric Reid. They also gave a four-year, $21-million contract to safety Antoine Bethea in 2014.

The Niners had safeties.

But they didn’t have one who could cover the newest division rival — Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham. He is by far the Seahawks’ best receiver.

Tartt is one of the only players in the draft who might be able to cover him. Graham is 6-foot-6, 260 pounds and runs a 4.56-second 40-yard dash. Tartt is 6-1, 218 pounds and runs a 4.52. Theoretically, Tart has the size and athleticism to match up with Graham.

“I’m not going to sit here and say a rookie is going to shut down Jimmy Graham,” Baalke said in the 49ers’ auditorium after Day 2 of the draft. “At times you’re going to single him. At times you’re going to double him. … But we feel good about (Tartt’s) ability to line up and cover people.”

Tartt lacks experience. He didn’t play football in high school until his senior season, and in college he didn’t cover tight ends — that’s what he told Bay Area reporters on a conference call Friday evening. “I covered the slot most of the time,” he said.

So what does he think his role will be his rookie year?

“I see myself playing on special teams first,” said Tartt. “I want to get out on special teams, make my name on special teams and learn as much as I can from Antoine Bethea and Eric Reid.”

Was Tartt surprised the 49ers drafted him?

“Yes I was. They have a great group of guys in that secondary.”

When did Tartt expect to get drafted?

“Honestly, the third or fourth round maybe. But I ended up in the second. I’m just thankful.”

How surprised was he when the 49ers picked him?

“I was ecstatic. It was crazy. I prayed to God to put me in the right spot and he came through for me. I end up on the team with my best friend.”

Tartt was referring to Jimmie Ward, his high school teammate. “I met him my ninth grade year,” said Tartt. “I was around 14 years old … in college, that’s when we became a whole lot closer because we used to compete every Saturday. We used to compare our stats, talk before the game like, ‘I’m going to go out and do this today or that today.’ We just used to compete however we could.”

After the Niners picked Tartt, they drafted someone else to help them match up with the Seahawks — former Virginia outside linebacker Eli Harold. Harold is one of the most explosive edge-rushers in the draft. He recorded 17.5 sacks and 36.5 tackles for loss in three collegiate seasons.

But that’s not why he helps the Niners match up with Seattle. The Niners already have a couple of quality pass-rushers — Aldon Smith and Aaron Lynch.

But those two aren’t fast enough to catch Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson runs a 4.55-second 40-yard dash. Lynch runs a 4.69 and Smith runs a 4.82 — Wilson literally runs circles around them. He buys as much time as he wants behind the line of scrimmage because the Niners just can’t catch him.

Until now. Harold ran a 4.60-second 40-yard dash at the combine in February. If one pass-rusher on the 49ers can track down Wilson, it’s Harold.

Although he probably won’t play defense right away. He’s behind Smith, Lynch and Ahmad Brooks at outside linebacker on the 49ers’ depth chart.

“It’s the best situation for me,” Harold said on a conference call. “Not being high on the depth chart, learning from the veteran guys will really help me out a lot.”

What does he think he can bring to the 49ers?

“I’m going to bring a lot of passion, toughness. I feel like I’m a natural-born leader. I feel like I learn very quickly and I’m an athletic guy. I feel like I can make noise on special teams and do whatever the coach asks me to do.”

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

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  1. Aside from big, athletic and playing defense, one thing the 49ers draft picks all seem to have in common is high character players.

    1. Good observation. Also smart. I’m not that familiar with Mangini, but I understand players need to be smart to thrive in his system.

      Also interesting how Tartt and and Harald are close in size to ILBs. Tartt seems perfect for the big nickle. Harald for the Vonn Miller role. But those aren’t the defenses the 49ers run.

  2. They had to find someone to cover Graham, after he broke Jimmy Ward it was going to be a tough couple of games. Good move.

    Seattle went overboard on D Linemen and won the Super Bowl. Good move.

    Bill Walsh kept ten Defensive Linemen on the roster, who were all very talented, the Defensive routinely finished in the top ten, and they won Super Bowls.

    Good moves.

    Whither tomorrow, Grant?

  3. From a BPA perspective, these Day Two picks were solid. Harold was ranked about 4th on most boards in terms of a 34OLB, and Tartt was the 2nd ranked SS (behind Landon Collins). However, from a need perspective, they are not going to play much at all this season in their respective positions. Along with Armstead, who was drafted for his potential, which means he has alot to learn which will take more time. All this means Baalke is writing off this season that the team is not considered to be a contender…not even a contender for the playoff. *sigh*…

    1. First, no team ever writes off a season. Unlike people on this forum and GC, the Niners think they still have plenty of talent to compete. We were decimated by injuries last year, went 8-8, should have won 3 games we lost and r D finished top 5 with backups and rookies. R offense was run by Roman, an overrated OC, and outside of Borland we lost 30 plus year old players who were starting to fade. Yes, Willis’s continued injuries, and Gore yds per carry down every year since 2012.

      On offense we have a bunch of WR and no idea how good some of them can be. Didn’t get much of a chance last few years. We have three strong RB’s and a highly drafted backup TE that hasn’t been asked to do much during his first few seasons. We 7 picks remaining this weekend to boot. We have plenty of talent on this team. It just needs to be utilized.

      1. I’m a huge ‘Hawks fan and no one in Seattle has written off the ‘Niners. Very tough team that has suffered some challenges – I think this team is going to surprise a lot of people with how hard they compete this year.

    2. definitely agree that he has already washed off the season. What a joke Trent is. They needed a corner and they make a stupid move by selecting Armstead who is not even ready to start. This is just bad Karma for firing Jim, and replacing him with a line coach.

  4. I hope we get a wr,ilb and lineman with these next three picks but I do like the thinking on these picks to let other young vets get a shot. Ellington scored two tds in a game at the end while Patton produced in limited game action

  5. Two good picks today. A little high in regards to a position that just required depth at safety but I’ll gladly take it. Good character guys and potential defensive nightmares.

  6. What’s the likelihood that a 4th or 5th round WR will be your #1 featured WR for the future?

    What’s the likelihood that a 4th or 5th round CB will be your shutdown CB for the 49ers?

    NOT very likely. That means next year, these two areas of need will creep up again…

    1. Bro were a run first team and have been for the past 5 years. We don’t need a super talented WR. We have a strong front 7 and don’t need a shutdown corner. It’s a team sport not an individual sport. We will win games with everyone playing hard not by one player “being better” than the rest.

      Also what is your definition of a shutdown corner?

      some say Sherman is a shutdown corner but he had the same amount of INT’s as Perrish Cox who is an average CB?

  7. And who pray tell does Baalke think is going to win the battles with Richard Sherman, the guy who kept the 49ers out of SB XLVIII??? Dorial Green-Beckham…except that Tennessee drafted him six picks before the 49ers! Never fear, it’s Baalke and the WR re-treads to the rescue!


    1. i hope your right, the lack of picking good WR and CB in the draft, year in an year out, is going to cost us PO and in the end, Baalke his job, its very simple.

    2. When DGB was picked the commenters said they he played a lot smaller than he is, getting dominated by smaller DBs. Probably not the guy as a rookie at least to win a matchup with Sherman.

  8. Good to see you finally realised there was a draft taking place Grant. Welcome.

    Feel like writing some more this weekend?

  9. All you need to do is look at Seattle’s offensive line and the. Look at our depth upfront and you can’t help but feel that we will CRUSH Seattle!

    OLB- Smith, Lynch, Brooks, Harold
    DE- Armstead, Dockett, Carradine, Jerod-Eddie
    NT- Dorsey, Williams, Dial

    LT- Russell Okung
    C- ___________
    RG- Sweezey
    RT- Britt

  10. Day 3 will be too early a start for me, so I’ll likely miss a round or two. For those panicking about the WR situation, there are still some pretty good WR prospects available:

    – Tre McBride
    – Rashad Greene
    – Kenny Bell
    – Stefon Diggs
    – DeAndre Smelter
    – Titus Davis
    – Justin Hardy

    Vince Mayle and Darren Waller may also be targets.

    At RB there is also some good talent left available with Ajayi, Langford, Allen, Artis-Payne, Davis and Cobb.

    The quality of the OL prospects is thinning out, but still have Clemmings, Tre Jackson (he’d be a good pick in the 4th) and Daryl Williams. Not a lot else to get excited about, but there are usually some decent OL had in later rounds, especially interior guys.

    At CB, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu remains available and is good value, even if he is undersized and will likely miss 2015. Doran Grant has some ability, as does Josh Shaw though he comes with some character concerns. The guy I’d like though is Darryl Roberts from Marshall, who has pretty good size and is an excellent athlete. Could probably get him in the 5th.

    An ILB will likely get taken at some point soon too. Taiwan Jones is a thumper in the middle they may look at. There are a few later round guys worth considering, but my pick would be Jake Ryan who has good size, decent athleticism and a nose for making plays. If they don’t mind taking on a project, I still think Kyle Emanuel would be capable of playing the Mike spot too, as well as LOLB (a bit like Dan Skuta).

    At TE, MyCole Pruitt is the best receiving TE remaining. There’s not a whole lot to get excited about at the position, but Jesse James may well be a guy the 49ers like with his size and athleticism.

    1. I was thinking the same thing about James.

      For ILB I like Ramik Wilson from Georgia has the size and got better every year in college.

      On the offensive line, I want Tyrus Thompson. A player we groom for a year and then let compete in camp next year at RT and have ANT Davis move inside when Boone is gone.

    2. Thumbs up for Diggs, McBride or Bell.
      I’d live very much Smelter as a redshirt.
      Jesse James would be good at TE but MyCole Pruitt would not be bad at all.
      Not concerned about CB. Would prefer to address RB and ILB.

  11. I would love to see Langford and Smelter scooped up by the 49ers. Even he’s smallish, Ekpre Olomu could be a good value.

    Clearly, the 49ers are happy with their CB and WR groups. I hope they’re right…

    Johnny Morton didn’t seem to be the greatest WR coach, and Henry has done pretty well at LSU. Perhaps he feels Patton and Ellington can be developed.

    1. And Johnson, Reaser and Acker show promise. Adding the young guys to Brock, Wright and Cook, the CB situation doesn’t look so dire although I would still feel better about things if they had drafted Peters.

  12. Scooter, James, ExGolfer,
    I agree. There is some very good value left on the board on day three. I feel the 49ers could still bring in a great haul with their 3 picks in the 4th rd.
    We could see players like Smelter, Waller, Wilson, Ryan, Pruitt, T.McBride, R.Green, T.J. Clemmings, Lynden Trail, Jacoby Glenn, Jay Ajayi, Javorius Allen, that might be in the offing for us at 117, 126, and 132.

    I would hope that the 49ers stand-pat and keep from making any trades in the 4th.
    The team’s future success could very well hinge on today’s 4th rd. The overall value in this years 4th rd is as deep as I’ve seen in a long time.

    1. I like Smelter and Ajayi. Stunned Ajayi hasn’t been picked yet. The knee (rumor?) must be scaring teams off.

    2. Javorius Allen sounds great.

      I’d like to have him, Jesse James, Smelter (redshirt), Diggs, and a ILB (Taiwan or Ramik) or a swing tackle.

      Is that asking for too much?

  13. Just a quick thought regarding the 49ers “Alternate” uniform. I’m ok with the black and red, but why not go with the complete effect by alternating the helmet color to better fit the new uniform color scheme?

    At the moment the black and red with the original helmet colors makes it look like the 49ers players are playing in a all-star game.

    1. It’s because doing so would be a violation of safety regulations AES, which may be one of the dumbest rules ever instituted.

      1. MID, Big P,
        I don’t see how tweaking a color scheme on the helmet would interfere with it’s safety infrastructure.

        BigP, you bring up a good example with how many colleges are designing a variety of color schemes on their helmets that complement and accessorize the entire look.

        I like the new colors of the unis, unfortunately they look out of place with the current helmet colors.
        I like to see how our same SF logo would look with more of a red or black (or a combo of those colors) as a helmet color scheme.

    2. They have to use the same helmets at all times. They still should have switched up the logo and face color, it looks terrible and simply doesn’t match. I find it interesting that Oregon currently has six different game helmets and that they wear all of them throughout the season. The NCAA just doesn’t care or the NFL just pulled something from their rear in an attempt to pretend that they care about player health and safety.

      1. Big P,

        What is safety concern the NFL is citing? I thought it was just a “because I said so” kind of thing.

        1. Exgolfer,
          It’s a rule that was invented to limit the concussion litigation, pure and simple. It’s a bunch of B.S. They formed a ‘Head, neck and spine committee’ that met with the ‘Player safety advisory board’ and came to the conclusion that alternate helmets shouldn’t be worn, despite not providing an adequate reason for the decision. And of course this decision was validated by the chairman of the ‘Ownership health and safety committee’, which happens to be John York. There’s three layers of crap you have to dig through before you can even point a finger at the idiots responsible for this decision. It’s all about the owners protecting their money. Apparently they have more to lose via concussion litigation then they have to gain via alternate jersey sales. That’s the bottom line, as always.

  14. I like the draft so far. I have to admit am a little surprised at the picks. I love offense but understand that defense is what is going to get us into the playoffs. A run based team doesn’t usually score lots of points, in order for the Niners to compete they must be able to play defense. I would still like to see a ILB, and I give up on getting a CB. Probably going to get a receiver, a RB, and maybe a OL sometime today. I would love to see Waller on board. As usual can’t wait to see what the new guys have to offer.

    1. uc, here’s a thought: Maybe part of their plan is to train Harold at ILB. An ILB with his pass rushing skills would be unique.

  15. Looking for D Cobb RB; Smelter WR ;sorry Scooter but Waller WR; late picks Taiwan Jones or Martrell Spaight ILB;Imoan Claiborne Doran Grant at CB-;QB-Halliday ???;David Parry NT.

  16. I have to say so far I am not a fan of this draft. The moves made by the Niner brass lead me to the conclusion that the Niner brass don’t believe they will be competitive this season.

    So far all of the players selected either need to be coached up and are situational players and future replacements.The best value pick was Eli Harold and he is the player I would also expect to have the most impact.

    Once again, in a draft ripe with wide receivers, Baalke takes a pass. Some will say there are still talented players out there but I would argue that the drop off after Strong was very significant. I don’t mind not having great wide receivers but I would like to have at least a few that look like they could potentially start some day. Patton’s inability to sniff the field even when our roster was banged up frightens me to no end. So far Baalke has not drafted a single wr that I believe could be a competent starter in the NFL and for the second year in a row he took a pass on the top end talent.
    Last year he passed on just to name a few…
    Jarvis Landry
    Devante Adams
    Jordan Matthews
    Allen Robinson
    Marquis Lee
    Having any one of those players would make me a lot better about the teams future at the position.

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