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Da'Rick Rogers would be a nice long-term addition for the 49ers.
Current SF Picks in the Third Round: No. 12 (74 overall), No. 31 (93 overall)
Scenario: The 49ers draft Rice tight end Vance McDonald with their 12th pick in the round. Then the 49ers draft Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers with their 31st pick in the round.
Needs Addressed: San Francisco addresses its needs at tight end as well as adding a talented wide receiver.
The most glaring offensive need for the 49ers is the second tight end position.
The recent free agency departure of Delanie Walker hurts San Francisco's offense more than they would like to admit. As their "Swiss Army Knife," Walker was extremely versatile. While not the best receiver, Walker excelled as both a run and pass-blocker. He also could line up on both ends of the line as well as outside or the slot. As an H back, Walker provided a tremendous boost to the new "hybrid-style" of offense San Francisco utilizes with quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
With Walker gone, the 49ers need to take a serious look at tight ends coming out of the draft. While top-tier tight ends such as Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz may be long gone when San Francisco is looking to fill the specific void, the 49ers may instead look towards drafting a tight end that is similar to Walker.
That tight end would be Vance McDonald.
In four years at Rice, McDonald totaled 119 receptions for 1,504 yards and 15 touchdowns (sports-reference.com).
What makes McDonald even more special however is the fact that he emulates Walker in a variety of ways.
NFL analyst and NFL Films senior producer Greg Cosell had this to say about McDonald:
He has very deceptive athleticism. Not a vertical speed guy, but I think he can work the seams and the short to intermediate areas. One concern with him is he had some trouble catching the ball at times. He’s an athletic tight end. He’s very fluid for a man that size. In Rice’s offense he lined up all over – in the slot, split. He just had erratic hands. There were times he showed really strong hands and made great catches. There were other times he let too many balls get into his body and he dropped them. I think he’s a really intriguing prospect. You could argue that this kid is a smoother mover than Jason Witten. (via pressdemocrat.com)
That sounds a lot like Walker.
If there was anything bad to say about McDonald, it would be that he still needs help at inside blocking. He also needs some help in his receiving game. Fortunately, good coaching can assist McDonald in the areas needing improvement and the 49ers have plenty of good coaches. They also can recall that both Walker and Vernon Davis were not the best blockers early in their respective careers (ninersnation.com).
Projected as the 89th overall prospect in the draft and slated to go in the third round, San Francisco would be wise to use its 74th overall pick to select McDonald.
There is an argument that San Francisco may be better off with Cincinnati's Travis Kelce, but it is a concern how Kelce is relatively inexperienced at the position and has only one full year as a starter. His character issues may also diminish this likelihood of the 49ers selecting him (cbssports.com).
If they do draft McDonald, Walker's departure will not hurt the 49ers as much as they may have originally anticipated.
With the 93rd overall pick, San Francisco drafts Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers.
If you have read any of my draft-day articles, you would know that I am becoming a huge fan of Rogers and the 49ers should become fans as well.
San Francisco's situation at wide receiver is not as clear-cut as it may appear. While Michael Crabtree is the "no-doubt" head of the 49er receiving class, the remainder of the receiving corps does not look as solid. True, San Francisco was able to trade one of this year's draft picks for standout receiver Anquan Boldin, but Boldin is 32 years old and shall become a free agent after the 2013 season. Will San Francisco re-sign him? That is a tough question to ask and Boldin certainly does not look to be a long-term solution.
In addition, both Mario Manningham and Kyle Williams are returning from serious knee injuries suffered last year. How effective will they be even if they return at 100 percent? Both are also free agents after this upcoming season.
There is last year's first-round draft pick A.J. Jenkins in the mix, but Jenkins has yet to prove himself at the NFL level and it remains unclear what impact he will have in 2014.
All that considered, San Francisco should look towards Rogers.
Unfortunately (or fortunately if one chooses to look at it that way), Rogers has experienced some off-the-field issues which have hampered his hopes to become a top prospect. This element may benefit San Francisco however as they would be able to grab him with a third-round pick.
Projected by CBS Sports as the 95th overall prospect, Rogers may easily slide to the 49ers during the round. They have already expressed some interest in him and if they choose to select him during the draft, the 49ers would add a talented wide receiver who can be an explosive playmaker for years to come. It would also make the possible departures of Boldin, Manningham, and Williams not as significant.
There are the concerns surrounding his character, yet the 49ers have shown patience with some of their young stars and their own dealings with adversity. Look no further than Alex Boone or Aldon Smith. Good coaching can be vital here.
If that winds up happening, San Francisco would get an explosive receiver who can provide additional options for the 49ers' offense.