49er fans rejoiced Thursday night as the commissioner announced Trey Lance as the 3rd overall pick in the draft. All the hopes of Trey to the Bay became a reality and now Trey is IN the Bay! Here is a full list of all the 2021 49er draft picks and undrafted free agent signings.
Easy one. My favorite player in the draft and a guy that should strike fear in the rest of the NFL with Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling ability. A perfect fit for Lance’s talent going to a run-heavy offense with a great play-action game. Trey Lance had the most snaps in college under center of all the first-round QBs in this draft and excelled at play action with a strong arm and great mobility. His speed and power as a runner will give this offense a dimension, we have never seen under the Shanahan regime in San Francisco. Lance will start the season as Jimmy G’s backup, but I expect to see him on the field for a handful of plays each week. Not like a Taysom Hill where he is lined up at different positions, but I see him as a big-time threat in the red zone on RPOs and zone reads. I’d love for him to get in on some 3rd and shorts as well and try and catch the defense sleeping on him and unleash his giant arm to Ayuik or Kittle deep. While I think he starts the year as the backup I believe he will take over before the playoffs, his talent will be too good to keep off the field and signal the end of the Jimmy G era.
Before the draft, Shanahan said, “You want to find Drew Brees who can move like Lamar Jackson,” well Kyle, I think you did exactly that.
Most Surprising Pick: Trey Sermon, RB, Ohio State
What’s better than Trey to the Bay? TWO Trey’s to the bay. When I watched Trey Sermon go for 254 total yards against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl I thought he had shades of Ezekiel Elliot during his final year at Ohio St. and couldn’t wait to see what team would get him in the draft. Sermon is an extremely powerful runner plowing through defenders regularly but still has the speed to be a home run threat. I did not expect the 49ers to pick an RB at all in this draft let alone trade up for one in round 3. I was ecstatic to hear his name called as we have seen what Shanahan can do with undrafted or late-round RBs I predict Sermon to be a 1,000+ rusher as a rookie with his talent.
Best Value Pick: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan
This one was a tough call between Ambry Thomas and 5th round pick Talanoa Hufanga, but I went with Thomas because I think he will be a starter in year one. Ambry Thomas had a great 2019 season and was projected to be a 2nd round pick before he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID. He has good size at 6’0 and runs in the low 4.4s. During his entire college career at Michigan, he allowed a passer rating of just 46.4. He has the versatility to play both nickel and outside and has the looks of our future number 1 corner. It was a surprise to see him fall to #102 but could turn into a huge draft steal for the 49ers.
The Big Guys: Aaron Banks, OG, Notre Dame, and Jaylon Moore, OT, Western Michigan
Going into the draft I thought we had all 5 starters on the offensive line set with the biggest weakness coming at right guard. Most thought the 49ers would address IOL on days 2 and 3 of the draft so it was a bit of a surprise to see Aaron Banks come off the board in round 2. Aaron Banks is a massive man at 6’5 325LBs and comes out of O-line University, Notre Dame. He scored above an 80 in PFF grades in both pass and run blocking last season and I think will take over the starting job at right guard this year. This will allow the 49ers to have Daniel Brunskill be a solid depth piece for both center and guard in case of injuries.
Jaylon Moore, we grabbed in round 5 where I expected us to address the depth across the O-line. Moore was originally scouted as an Edge Rusher, so he’s got some nastiness to him that I like but was moved to Left Tackle and received second-team All-MAC honors as a junior (13 starts). He has nice versatility to play both Tackle and Guard for the 49ers.
Biggest Head Scratcher: No Wide Receivers
The most surprising move or lack of a move was that the 49ers didn’t pick a single receiver in the draft. I am hoping this means they expect big things out of Jalen Hurd, but he does not seem like a reliable option after ending up on IR in each of his first two years. In my mock drafts, I had the 49ers addressing receiver early in round 2 or 3 but they went O-line and CB instead. The 49ers did sign an undrafted free agent wide receiver Austin Watkins out of UAB. I think he has a real shot to make the team and someone whose stock went way up after an impressive showing at the senior bowl. Watkins is a bigger body at the receiver position at 6’2 with good hands and showed good deep ball production. The name may sound familiar as he is cousins with former first-round WR Sammy Watkins, so we at least know he has good football genes.
Deommodore Lenoir was someone the 49ers liked during the pre-draft process. A local high school star who had a solid 3-year starting career at Oregon. At 5’11 with 4.4 speed he can line up on the outside and projects to be a nice zone cover corner in the NFL. Unless injury strikes the secondary, he should be more of a depth piece this year and can slide into a starting role in year 2. Lenoir made me an instant fan with this quote when talking to reporters after he was drafted, “Whenever you step on the field, you're either gonna be a hyena, or you're gonna be the prey. So in other words, I'm a hyena.” Give me all the hyenas.
Talanoa Hufanga is a violent safety who is physical at all times on the field. I think he is a good fit with Jimmy Ward who can play the single high safety role and allow Talanoa to play in the box. Talanoa’s ball skills have improved after recording zero interceptions in his first two seasons at USC, with a breakout 2020 campaign of 4 picks in just 6 games. He has a Troy Polamalu feel to him from the great hair, Polynesian descent, USC alum, and a versatile and exciting safety to watch play. If he can become half the player Polamalu was the 49ers would have an absolute steal in round 5.
Not many expected the 49ers to get 2 running backs in the draft but Elijah Mitchell scored a 99-athleticism score in the pre-draft process, the only other running back to score a 99? First-rounder Travis Etienne out of Clemson. It’s hard to hate on a pick when your team just gets an absolute stud of an athlete. He ran a 4.33 40 yard dash at his pro day which was the fastest for any RB in this year’s class, and we all know how much Shanahan loves speed at RB. I think he has a great shot to make the team and could be a good third-down back to go along with Raheem Mostert and Trey Sermon.
Overall, just a fantastic draft from Shanahan and Lynch. The team is set up to be a Super Bowl contender for a very long time.