The San Francisco 49ers are less than two weeks away from turning in their first card for the 2018 NFL Draft. There are many directions that the team can go in to build their roster with young talent from this year’s crop of college players. Here is one way that things can play out for 49ers that will fill important needs, while also getting good value for each selection.
San Francisco 49ers 7-Round Mock Draft
1st Round, 9th Overall – Roquan Smith, Inside Linebacker, Georgia
In light of the recent news about Reuben Foster, the 49ers need to solidify their linebacking corps with a true star in the making. Smith is an absolute beast on the field. In his final season at Georgia, Smith accumulated 137 tackles (85 were solo) and 14 tackles for loss (6.5 being sacks).
This led to Smith being named the 2017 Dick Butkus Award winner, a title won by former 49er Patrick Willis back in 2006. He also was named a first-team All-American and was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year.
Looking beyond his trophy shelf, Smith plays with great instincts and shows great ability to close on ball carriers quickly. He can cover the field from sideline to sideline and is a true field general on defense. San Francisco may, unfortunately, need to move on from Foster, but will get an even better player in Smith.
2nd Round, 59th Overall – Isaiah Oliver, Cornerback, Colorado
Richard Sherman and Ahkello Witherspoon are currently slotted as the starting cornerbacks for San Francisco. Sherman is a question mark as we don’t know if he can return to his Pro Bowl caliber of play. Witherspoon showed great ability in his rookie year, but can he continue that level of play into his second season, while also being a starter?
The 49ers like Witherspoon, and going to the same well and bringing in Oliver is a smart choice. In his game tape, he shows great coverage ability and always has a knack for knocking the ball away, even at the last second. Now where he excels at being a great corner in the passing game, he needs some improvement in the run game.
Being able to tackle is something that Sherman is great at and I have no doubt he can take Oliver under his wing to improve his tackling skills. There is a fairly good chance that he will not be available at 59 when the 49ers make their selection but if Oliver is still on the board, this would be an excellent value pick in the second round.
3rd Round, 70th Overall – Josh Sweat, Outside Linebacker, Florida State
The 49ers were able to fill many holes on their team during free agency, but one of the needs they did not address was the pass rush. They were ranked 26th in the league with 30 sacks and ranked 11th in passing yards allowed per game with 235.2.
Bring in a guy like Sweat and these numbers should be a thing of the past. Sweat could fall to the third round because of his medical history but he has the talent to be a great pass rusher in the league. In his career as a Seminole, Sweat racked up 14.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss. These numbers are not jaw-dropping, but when you look at his tape you see that he can consistently get pressure on the quarterback and has the ability to be disruptive in the backfield. He is still a little raw in areas and could definitely use some further coaching, but if the 49ers are able to look past his medical history, Sweat could end up being a diamond in the rough.
3rd Round, 74th Overall – Frank Ragnow, Center, Arkansas
Jimmy Garoppolo had this effect on the team that instantly improved the level of play across the whole team. He was able to hide the weak play of the offensive line by having a lightning quick release, reminiscent of Dan Marino. This is a trend that cannot continue and drafting a guy like Ragnow, will improve the line and keep Garoppolo’s jersey clean.
If not for an ankle injury in his final season at Arkansas, Ragnow would be in the discussion to go in the first round. He is an absolute road grader and demonstrated he can play at center, as well as at guard without a significant drop off in the level of play.
One big plus in Ragnow’s book is his ability to pull and block for outside runs and screen passes. Kyle Shanahan loves having nimble linemen that can get on the outside and make those pull blocks. Ragnow can come in and be a starter from day one and really bring this 49ers offense to the next level.
4th Round, 128th Overall – Quin Blanding, S, Virginia
With Eric Reid hitting free agency this offseason the 49ers desperately need help at safety. Quin Blanding can help fill that void. He is a proven ball-hawk with a career 10 interceptions spread pretty evenly over four seasons. He is a fantastic tackler with 137 in 2017. He was a four-year starter and can make an impact in the secondary with his leadership as well as consistent play.
5th Round, 143rd Overall – Tyrone Crowder, G, Clemson
The 49ers struggled to maintain consistency in the run game throughout the early part of 2017. Their pass blocking was not superb either and despite getting a boost by signing Weston Richburg and Jonathan Cooper the 49ers still need one more guard. Tyrone Crowder can be the man.
Listed as big as 6’2″ 340 lbs, he played in a fast-paced offense in college. He was first-team all ACC in 2016 and 2017 for a team that made it to the College Football Playoff three times in his career. While the system he played for in college is nowhere near what the 49ers run, he should be an excellent upgrade at guard.
6th Round, 184th Overall – Frank Ginda, ILB, SJSU
The 49ers need help at linebacker and Frank Ginda can be a huge boost. He had nine and a half sacks in his career including an astounding seven and a half in 2016. Due to his pass rushing abilities, the 49ers might be able to develop him into an outside linebacker.
While he is only six feet tall, his pass rushing skills should minimize this disadvantage. He was an on the All-Academic team for the Mountain West Conference in both 2015 and 2016. This can prove vital during his development as a professional. He has a good head on his shoulders and he should be able to absorb all the NFL has to throw at him. He could be the steal of the draft.
7th Round, 227th Overall – Damon Webb, S, Ohio State
Safety is still a major concern for the 49ers and it would be wise for them to select a project player in the final round of the draft. Damon Webb can be that man as he proved to be a valuable leader for the Ohio State defense.
He had 5 interceptions in 2017 and can improve on that number in the NFL. He only had 61 tackles in 2017 but keep in mind that the teams in his conference, the Big 10, tend to run more of a pro-style offense and run the ball much more than other conferences in college football. With that being said, he never had much of a chance to make many tackles.
The interceptions he was able to take were few and far between but they were opportunistic. He is a man who knows how to seize the moment when it comes to him and if the 49ers select him and develop him into a quality player, then he may be able to help them in their quest for another Super Bowl, the ultimate opportunity.
7th Round, 240th Overall – Jake Wieneke, WR, South Dakota State
The 49ers have a fantastic quarterback in Jimmy Garoppolo and he did a phenomenal job with the talent he had. However, it would be wise for the team to select a wide receiver in the later round to develop. This receiver should be taller and have a solid build. Jake Wieneke can be that player.
He played for a smaller school and did not play against the best competition but his stats were consistent. He had over 1,000 yards receiving in all but one of his college years. He also had 16 touchdowns in all but one of his seasons at South Dakota State. At 6’4″ he can be used similarly to Jordy Nelson. If he is as dependable as he was in college then he should fit the 49ers offensive scheme beautifully.