The running backs were put on notice this weekend.
We’ve asked you to grade the 49ers draft. Now, let’s look at some winners and losers on the Niners now that the NFL Draft is complete. According to Next Gen Stats, the 49ers had the fifth-most athletic draft class. Athleticism matters in athletics, and you should always side with the athlete.
With each pick, someone on San Francisco’s roster is affected. Let’s take a look at some winners and losers on the offensive side of the ball after the Niners’ draft. Today, we’ll stick to the offensive side of the ball.
First, a look at the selections on the offensive side of the ball:
- Round 1, Pick 3: North Dakota State QB Trey Lance
- Round 2, Pick 48: Notre Dame guard Aaron Banks
- Round 3, Pick 88 (via Rams): Ohio State RB Trey Sermon
- Round 5, Pick 155: Western Michigan OL Jaylon Moore
- Round 6, Pick 193 Louisiana RB Elijah Mitchell
The wide receivers
The 49ers drafted a wideout in 18 consecutive drafts before 2021. This draft class was viewed as equally as strong as a historic ‘20 class. Neglecting to select a receiver in this class signals confidence in the current receivers on the team.
It starts with Jalen Hurd, who the team selected in the ‘18 NFL Draft, but he’s yet to step onto the field. During his press conference on Saturday, John Lynch said the team checks in on Hurd regularly and expected him to be “ready to go” come the season.
Richie James, Travis Benjamin, and Jauan Jennings all had to breathe a sigh of relief after the 49ers passed on drafting a wideout. Someone will have to step up, and that’s likely Hurd, but their jobs are safe.
The front office is betting on Deebo Samuel’s health, too. It’s a gamble, but we know Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo have a high ceiling. If those two are reliable and continue to evolve, the Niners should be fine.
Jimmy Garoppolo/Trey Lance
The 49ers invested heavily into the quarterback position during this draft. The addition of Lance is obvious, but two lineman and two running backs will take the pressure off the quarterbacks.
While the rest of the NFC West added speed, the Niners added mass and power. We know Kyle Shanahan’s philosophy. He wants to run the ball. This draft paints the picture that he wants to get back to what he does best. The 2019 offense was at their peak when the ground game was doing the heavy lifting.
Remember the NFC Championship? The Packers didn’t have an answer to the Niners rushing attack. There are different ways you can protect your QB. San Francisco went the route of taking some off their plate.
If you remember, last July, Mostert made a bit of a stink — one he had every bit of speaking up about — that he wasn’t compensated fairly. It had gotten to the point where Mostert requested a trade.
The Niners ended up extending Mostert and giving him another year. In the first two games, Mostert had a 76-yard and an 80-yard touchdown. He’s arguably the fastest player in the league.
When you’re not on the field, that doesn’t matter. Mostert is one of my favorite players to watch, as he’s an ideal fit for Shanahan’s offense. He averaged five yards per carry this past season, but he only had 104 attempts. That’s because Mostert was constantly banged up.
I think people forget that Mostert is barely over 200 pounds and isn’t the most physical runner, despite him running hard. Most of Mostert’s yards after contact are due to him having above-average contact balance and not power.
When a team drafts two running backs, you’re in trouble. That’s the front office sending a sign to Mostert as if his days are numbered. Could we see a trade? San Francisco could save just over $3.1 million if Mostert is traded or released.
When a Kyle Shanahan team drafts a running back in the third round, that’s him telling us he needs a player he could rely on every down. That hasn’t been Mostert.
Sermon started at Oklahoma and has excelled at two big-time programs. With Elijah Mitchell on the roster as well, these two will be your running backs of the future. The clock is ticking for Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr.
Daniel Brunskill, Colton McKivitz, Justin Skule
The 49ers weren’t happy with their depth along the offensive line. When you select a player 48th overall, you’re expecting that he could come in and start. Jaylon Moore’s roster spot isn’t guaranteed, but this is the second year in a row where San Francisco added an offensive lineman in the fifth round.
Banks is an enormous human being at over 335 pounds. Moore is over 311 pounds. Brunskill and McKivitz are on the lighter side. This is the 49ers beefing up their line.
Skule’s days may be numbered on the roster. He has to have a stellar camp to be on the team come September. Brunskill was allowed to start last season, but, based on where the Niners took a guard this draft, the team wasn’t convinced that Brunksill is the long-term starter at guard.
Brunskill could serve as the center of the future and learn behind Alex Mack, while McKivitz needs to beat Moore out. All three players’ stock took a hit this draft weekend.
Jimmy G’s future
It’s a small victory for Jimmy that he remains on the roster after the draft. Reports surfaced multiple times this past week that San Francisco tried to move him. Either their asking price was too high, or those rumors were as accurate as Mac Jones.
The reason Garoppolo is listed here is due to his future. If he plays out this season and plays at a high level, that’s a win for all parties. Jimmy would likely be moved after this season, and the Niners receive better compensation than they originally hoped.
The other side of the coin comes with the pressure of having a top-three pick on the team. Whenever a bad play happens, fans will inevitably call for Lance. After an interception, lookout. If there are inconsistencies, it’ll be a long year of “why is he still the starter?”
That’s not fair to Garoppolo, but the Niners moved multiple picks to draft a rookie. They’ve told us by making the trade that Jimmy isn’t the future. It’s only a matter of “when” for Lance.
While he wasn’t traded this draft, that door hasn’t slammed shut just yet. There are injuries during the season that could cause a team to pull the trigger and reach out to San Francisco. If Lance is further along than the team thought, that could cause them to move Jimmy, too.
Lynch and Shanahan said the York’s were comfortable with Garoppolo’s salary on the books for 2021. Remember, you roll your cap space over into next year. That $25 million could be the difference in acquiring multiple high-level players.
If you thought the QB drama was over, think again. It’s not going anywhere.