The 49ers are fresh off a Super Bowl appearance and they will return many of their starters. Repeating success won’t be easy in a loaded NFC West.
San Francisco did need to find some upgrades on the offensive line and in the secondary. The 49ers also lost some rotational players along the defensive line. You also can’t forget they traded DeForest Buckner and lost Emmanuel Sanders to free agency but those positions already had depth.
The 49ers also were the first team to trade spots on Draft Day. S.F. moved back one spot and added a fourth round pick in their swap with Tampa Bay. Here’s how their draft class graded out.
Round 1, Pick No. 14: DT Javon Kinlaw, South Carolina
San Francisco moved one spot back and got a player who belongs among the top pure talents in this class. Kinlaw showed up to the Senior Bowl and earned some money. Him and Derrick Brown were considered the top defensive tackles in the class and Brown only gets the edge due to Kinlaw’s lack of consistent dominating play.
Luckily, he goes to San Francisco to play on a deep defensive line rotation. Kinlaw offers the size and athleticism to play across the defensive line which fits the rest of the group as they try and replace Buckner too. He could develop into a starter and Pro Bowler if he can stay healthy and play consistently. You could make an argument for one of the receivers or tackles available but they got to that later.
This is clearly an A pick since they got a top talent at a position of need and gained a pick in the process. Bravo. Kinlaw is also a hell of a story having gone from homeless as a teen to the NFL.
Round 1, Pick No. 25: WR Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State
The 9ers traded up a few spots to draft Aiyuk after they passed on every receier not named Henry Ruggs III. Aiyuk fills an obvious need at receiver opposite Deebo Samuels with Sanders gone. San Francisco needed an extra playmaker in the Super Bowl.
Aiyuk can compete for reps inside and outside as well as on returns. There were other, bigger receivers available but Aiyuk had a claim to the best on the board. Aiyuk got better each season too.
This is a B+ pick but could easily turn into an A. They could have considered some secondary or line help but Aiyuk answers the biggest question.
Round 6, Pick No. 190: TE Charlie Woerner, Georgia
It’s hard to get a perfect score when you sit out three rounds. However, the 49ers add a tight end who made his name as a blocking tight end in college and offers the traits to play in the NFL. Woerner needs to bulk up but he could develop into a contributor in a few seasons. This is a C pick as this might have been a bit too high of a pick but the 49ers develop tight ends so it could turn out better.
Round 7, Pick No. 217: WR Jauan Jennings, Tennessee
Again, San Francisco did not get a ton of at bats but they stuck to the plan by adding another pass catcher. He returned from a knee injury to start as a senior for the Volunteers. Jennings is a big and physical receiver added to a deep receiver corps. Jennings is a big slot option or he could convert to tight end.
Bonus points for San Francisco also pulling the trigger on a Trent Williams trade. They traded a fifth round pick in 2020 and a future draft selection for the Redskins Pro Bowler who sat out all last season. Williams slides into a starting role to replace the great Joe Staley who announced his retirement shortly after the trade.
Overall, San Francisco restocked their plethora of riches in the draft. It’s hard to get an A with limited picks but the 49ers deserve that because they moved around in the draft and addressed their biggest needs except in the secondary. That gives them a B+ grade with room to trend towards the A- range.