Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Carradine (No. 91) pursues opposing quarterbacks with a fury.
Some would denounce the selection of Eric Reid at No. 18 overall as a reach by the 49ers. Detractors would argue that he, or even a potentially higher-rated Johnathan Cyprien would have been available at No. 31.
That said, Jim Harbaugh had recruited Reid as far back as his high school days—he was Harbaugh’s guy. Moving up 13 spots and surrendering a third-round pick to fulfill the team’s greatest need with its most coveted prospect was well worth the price.
Moreover, that third-rounder was originally acquired from the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers already had another pick in that round.
Better yet, Trent Baalke received maximum value by moving back eight spots in Round 2 and landing Tank Carradine at No. 40, a premier pass-rusher with first-round skills. He also reeled in an additional pick in Round 3 of the 2014 draft (as well as a seventh-rounder in 2013) by way of this trade with the Tennessee Titans.
The 49ers’ GM continually used his trade savvy. He sacrificed a mere sixth-round pick (one of two) to move up for Vance McDonald at No. 55, securing the team’s need for an all-important second tight end.
Baalke latched on to yet another targeted prospect via a wise trade in the third with the Green Bay Packers. He picked up the ultra-athletic Corey Lemonier at No. 88 (moved up from No. 93) by only giving up the previously acquired seventh-round pick from Tennessee.
Finally, in Round 4, the 49ers nabbed Quinton Patton and Marcus Lattimore.
The former was one of the most productive NCAA wideouts in 2012 and easily a second-round talent. Lattimore dropped because of a devastating injury, despite being the elite running back of this class when healthy.
Baalke and Co. struck gold for the future by landing one of the best running backs in college football prior to his injury with a measly compensatory selection.
How the Rams, Cardinals and Seahawks Fell Short
St. Louis’ front office was nearly perfect yet again.
Tavon Austin is this year’s preeminent talent and would have been long gone had Les Snead not traded up to No. 8 overall. Picking up a top-20-worthy Alec Ogletree at No. 30 overall was another fine move. Stedman Bailey (No. 92) and Barrett Jones (No. 113) were solid value picks as well. Taking Zac Stacy as the franchise’s No. 1 running back in the fifth round deserved further acclaim.
The one knock against St. Louis, though, was a major reach for USC’s T.J. McDonald at No. 71 in the third. Syracuse’s Shamarko Thomas and Phillip Thomas of Fresno State are both superior at the safety position and were available.
Arizona capitalized in the value sector this time around. From Jonathan Cooper at No. 7 overall, to Alex Okafor in the fourth, to stealing Andre Ellington in the sixth, GM Steve Keim received appropriate value for nearly all the Cardinals’ picks.
The Seahawks reached throughout most of the draft. Michael, Jordan Hill and Chris Harper were all taken too high while running back Spencer Ware (No. 194 overall) would likely have reached free agency.
To their credit, Percy Harvin is a proven commodity and was worth a first-round price. Linebacker Ty Powell (No. 231) may also prove a steal some time down the road.