It's difficult to gauge how effective newcomers will be establishing roles for themselves on the San Francisco 49ers, who currently boast one of the most complete rosters in the league.
However, even though they did not have to, the Niners came away with 11 players in the 2013 NFL draft.
An organization led by Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke, the 49ers were looking to add the final components to what they believe will be a championship football team. They did this by addressing positions of need and adding significant depth throughout.
With all of the existing and incoming talent, the 49ers are going to strategically develop ways to utilize the entirety of the roster. For projections and commentary of San Francisco's incoming rookies, proceed through the following slides.
Weight: 213 lbs.
In the first round of the 2013 draft, the 49ers tackled their primary need, trading up for All-American safety Eric Reid of LSU.
The departure of All-Pro FS Dashon Goldson instantly created a void on the deep part of the field—particularly the last line of defense. The hope is that Reid will be able to plug in at that spot without a substantial drop-off in performance.
According to NFL Draft Scout, Reid was the No. 2 free safety in the draft. An acting leader of one of the top-ranked defenses in the nation, Reid created quite the name for himself with the Tigers.
Coming out of the college ranks, Reid certainly looks the part of the prototypical NFL safety. However 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh was in no rush to pronounce Reid a starter.
When asked if the rookie was going to be the starter, Harbaugh replied, “He’s got the license to be. He’s got the ability to be. But there will be tremendous competition at that position and we’ll let it play out.”
In Harbaugh’s camp, first-round picks receive the same treatment as seventh-rounders and undrafted free agents. The best player will play, but of course, Reid has a very strong chance to secure the job in training camp.
Between the first-round investment, the physical ability and the fact that Harbaugh handpicked him, it will take quite a lot to keep Reid on the bench in 2013. The staff believes he can be a factor against the run and the pass.
“He can play down in the box. He has great contact courage. He likes to get from point A to point B at go hit somebody. He’s an effective tackler and he’s a hard-hitting tackler,” Harbaugh noted at the post-draft presser.
Throughout the entire draft process, there were never really any questions about Reid’s ability as a knockaround defender. He was largely defined by his physicality at LSU, which often translates to the next level.
However, despite questions, Harbaugh believes Reid can be a weapon in coverage as well.
“He also plays the deep part of the field extremely well and can track the football. He has the speed to be a range safety, cover ground—and long arms, big wingspan,” said the 49ers coach. “Gets guys down when he tackles but can also make plays on the ball when it’s in the air,” Harbaugh added.
Truthfully, whether or not Reid starts as a rookie in 2013 depends largely on the staff’s confidence in his coverage ability. If they feel he can absorb the playbook, execute a disciplined style of football and not be a liability, he’ll be the No. 1 safety.
The 49ers love Eric Reid’s upside.
“He was here yesterday, well into the playbook, very bright young man, been an exceptional football player. We’re extremely excited to have him,” Harbaugh concluded.
Projections: 80 tackles, two forced fumbles, 11 pass breakups and one interception
Weight: 276 lbs.
School: Florida St.
The 49ers got first-round—perhaps top-10—value when they selected DE/LB Tank Carradine of Florida State.
In a few years, this may prove to be one of the big steals of the 2013 draft.
At great value, San Francisco landed the player that may eventually succeed the great All-Pro lineman Justin Smith. Carradine’s measurables mirror Smith’s; both carry a 6'4" frame, and Carradine has room to add some weight.
The 49ers drafted him with the idea of turning him into a 3-4 defensive end.
“We think he has the frame to do that. You know, Ray [McDonald] was a little shorter and a little lighter than Tank [Carradine] at the same stage coming out and Ray carries 290 pretty easily, and very comfortable at it,” said Trent Baalke.
As he recovers from a late-season ACL tear in 2012, Carradine will likely have time to spend in the weight room, building himself for the next level. But it is Smith, McDonald and new addition Glenn Dorsey that should be the featured group up front for San Francisco this year.
The 49ers are not going to put Carradine on the field until he is 100 percent, especially with the value they think they may have in him long-term. The ex-Seminole did compete at the Florida State pro day, though, running a 4.75 40 (h/t Doug Farrar of Yahoo! Sports).
His routine sent a shockwave through the NFL community, leading many to believe he had shaken up draft projections for Day 1.
Carradine will suit up in 2013, but don’t be surprised if he is inserted midseason. This way San Francisco allows him have a conservative return and adds a quality talent with fresh legs in the back half of the season when others are wearing down.
Projections: 26 tackles, five TFL, and 2.5 sacks
4.75 for Tank Carradine. He's my top DE and this quick rehab seals it. First rounder.— Matt Miller (@nfldraftscout) April 20, 2013
Weight: 267 lbs.
San Francisco’s offensive philosophy is dependent on its tight ends.
For this reason, the team requires two starting-caliber players at the position. When Delanie Walker left for Tennessee, it left a gaping void at the core of this offensive attack.
In a year where the scope of the 49ers’ draft was on defense, Trent Baalke spent a second-rounder on Rice TE Vance McDonald. This was revealing of how much they value the tight ends in the Bay Area.
And while he’ll have to earn it, McDonald is another player that the 49ers are likely going to plug in and play.
In the big picture, McDonald is an upgrade over Walker, bringing measurables and upside to the position that No. 46 did not have. This could very well add a new wrinkle to San Francisco’s offense, which, in turn, will help it convert situational downs and get vertical.
“The versatility. He’s a big guy, he’s 260 plus pounds, he’s got a huge wingspan, he’s got big hands,” said Baalke about the new TE. “He lines up all over the place; he lines up a little bit in the backfield, he lines up on the line of scrimmage, he lines up in the wing position off the line of scrimmage, and he also lines up outside.”
According to NFL Draft Scout, McDonald was a top-five ranked tight end prospect, fitting the mold of the other hybrids emerging at the position. The 49ers targeted him as early as they did because they’re high on his ability.
“When Vance McDonald gets here, I’m going to try and see if I can get him in the No. 89 because what I have come to know of Iron Mike Ditka,” said Harbaugh. “I can’t wait for coach Ditka to see Vance McDonald because I believe he is going to see some very good similarities.”
The 49ers head coach followed through on that promise, too. Harbaugh gave the team’s new offensive weapon No. 89, intentionally tagging him with Hall of Fame TE Mike Ditka’s number (h/t 49ers.com).
That is quite a weight to shoulder, so you can bet Harbaugh has an itch to get Vance McDonald on the field early.
Projections: 36 receptions, 420 yards and three touchdowns (11.6 YPC)
#49ers select Rice TE Vance McDonald with No. 55 pick. 6-4, 267. Strong blocker. Put up 31 reps of 225 pounds at combine, best among TEs.— Eric Branch (@Eric_Branch) April 27, 2013
Weight: 255 lbs.
Toward the conclusion of 2012, the 49ers felt a radical decline in their pass-rush production.
San Francisco kept its No. 1s on the field perhaps too much. Two of their most worked players, Ahmad Brooks (92 percent) and Aldon Smith (94 percent), played high percentages of the defensive snaps, per Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area.
Smith was one of six defensive players to compete in 1,000-plus snaps in 2012, and only one of two in the front seven to hit the mark (the other being LB NaVorro Bowman).
The OLB duo needed a primary No. 3 to relieve them—particularly one with pass-rush ability. The idea here is that Corey Lemonier of Auburn will be that rotational weapon, even as a rookie.
“He’ll be in the outside linebacker position. He’s another one we feel can fit it to the sub-package grouping as well—more on the outside than on the inside. So, he’ll get in that rotation,” Baalke said at the post-draft presser.
Lemonier started 26 games (39 total) for Auburn, racking up 100 tackles, 17 sacks, seven forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries as a weak-side defensive end. The 49ers are going to ask him to stand up and play outside linebacker.
As an edge-rusher, he should also bring natural ability and experience to San Francisco’s nickel package. He is a freaky athlete that fell in the draft because of his team’s porous showings on game day.
As an individual, the 6’3”, 255-pound Lemonier ran a 4.6 40-yard dash, which is indicative of his explosiveness. It is staggering that the 49ers found a player this gifted.
Transitioning to OLB, Lemonier has upside to be a starter at the position a few years down the line. But right now, he’ll complement Smith and Brooks while carving out a role on special teams.
“Once gain, it’s all about creating competition. We’ve got a good group of linebackers and Corey [Lemonier] is going to have to come in and earn his position,” Baalke finished.
Projections: 31 tackles, seven TFL, and 4.5 sacks
Corey Lemonier (6-foot-3, 255 pounds) ran a 4.60, 40-yard dash, plus posted 27 reps on bench press & 33-inch vertical at the combine.— Taylor Price (@TaylorPrice49) April 27, 2013
Weight: 204 lbs.
School: LA Tech
This pick sort of leaps out at you given the name, position and what round the 49ers were able to take him.
Louisiana Tech’s Quinton Patton is a big-time player that shows up in big-time games. In Round 4, the Niners added yet another playmaker to their offense, which has experienced rapid growth since 2012.
It was Patton’s ability on the field that first got him noticed by San Francisco’s decision-makers.
“I did a stop at Texas A&M this year and happened to watch that game when I was at Texas A&M and that’s where he kind of caught my eye personally,” Baalke alluding to Patton’s career-best performance in 2012.
As a senior, Patton caught an astounding 21 balls that game for 233 yards and four touchdowns against the Aggies. He also averaged 27.3 yards per game against the Fighting Illini that year, finishing with an incredible line again (6-164-2).
In 25 games, Patton accrued 183 catches, 2,594 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns. In that time, he went over 100 yards in 11 contests and had double-digit receptions in five games for the Bulldogs.
“Then he jumped out at us at the Senior Bowl. Went into the Senior Bowl, and the lights weren’t too big—they weren’t too bright for him. He got off the bus ready to go, competed very hard, showed very well there, so another big stage,” Baalke said about his rookie’s résumé.
This is a young man with a lot of ability and natural take to the position.
The 49ers GM raved that he could do pretty much anything, saying, “[Patton] runs well enough to get vertical. He’s a very good route-runner, he’s a strong route-runner and he’s a savvy route-runner.”
This is important to the San Francisco coaching staff because a strong route-runner often means the receiver is going to be where he is supposed to be when he is supposed to be there.
In a wide-open West Coast offense, Patton is a great fit.
“We feel he can play all over this place for us, in our system, with what we ask these guys to do,” Baalke confirmed. Although he is currently buried on the depth chart, Patton may become a force in training camp.
The statistical projections are predicated on Quinton Patton ripping a large gainer or two, which is very possible in his rookie year.
Projections: 18 receptions, 252 yards and one touchdown (14.0 YPC)
Working on a column for Friday on the best players outside of 1st round consideration. I love LaTech WR Quinton Patton. Who's your guy?— Bucky Brooks (@BuckyBrooks) April 18, 2013
Weight: 221 lbs.
School: South Carolina
Marcus Lattimore landing in San Francisco was one of those instances of the stars aligning. Given the Niners' roster depth and available picks, this was sort of a foreseen draft selection that yours truly—among others—predicted.
With his accomplished track record, physical ability and character, he is a gold-star 49er prospect, fitting their unique criteria through and through.
And the 49ers love a bargain, which is what Lattimore was in Round 4.
“Well, we love him, obviously. He is one heck of a football player. He is one heck of a young man. He fits everything we’re looking for. We talk about a Forty Niner; he is the type of young man we’re talking about. He’s that type of guy,” the 49ers general manager echoed.
A player with a high, high ceiling, Lattimore fixes to be a long-term front man to the three-headed attack in San Francisco once veteran running back Frank Gore has moved on from the game.
In Lattimore’s rookie campaign, the 49ers will not be in any sort of hurry to get him on the field. They are still eager to debut the trifecta of Gore, Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James.
Moreover, the South Carolina tailback still has rehabilitation to complete, so the 49ers will be delicate easing him back to full speed.
“Obviously he’s got the injury to overcome. We’re very confident he can do that. And very confident in our medical staff, and our strength and conditioning staff to get him back as close to 100-percent, if not 100-percent,” Baalke assured.
Lattimore has shown incredible progress and determination through this process.
A lot of people have embraced his story and really believe he can succeed despite this level of physical adversity. The 49ers, who had a firsthand look at his medical records, bought into the idea of Marcus Lattimore.
The organization has faith in his eventual return and appears to have a plan in place to help it happen. The 49ers know that if they are successful in this next endeavor, the return is a marvelous asset.
“He’s dazzling as a runner; tough, smart, electric type of ball carrier,” Harbaugh said, looking forward to Lattimore’s arrival.
49ers HC Jim Harbaugh on the fourth-round selection of RB Marcus Lattimore: "We're betting on Marcus Lattimore -- and that's a great bet."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) April 27, 2013
Weight: 304 lbs.
By the fifth round, if a team is out to find a physically gifted prospect, they are going to have to settle for pretty raw talent. Fortunately, if that team has a competent enough staff to harness that talent, there are gems to be found.
The 49ers think they landed one in Quinton Dial, formerly of the Crimson Tide.
With his athletic dexterity, Dial gives San Francisco another rushing end that can play all over its defensive scheme. But again, he is raw, having only competed in 18 games for Alabama (46 tackles, eight TFL and 2.5 sacks).
The 49ers made the pick because Dial’s upside intrigued them.
“A big man, a very big man. A young man that is really underdeveloped. You know, he is a junior college guy that went to Alabama and didn’t get a ton of playing time there his first year. Started to come on a little bit this year. Never been a full-time starter,” Baalke said of Dial over the weekend.
In 2013, the team will be looking to have a more healthy defensive rotation up front.
The addition of players like Tank Carradine and Corey Lemonier only proves that point. The Niners want to have fresh legs on the field, which will ultimately upgrade their pass rush.
And with the talent they found to do it, Vic Fangio looks like the most spoiled defensive coordinator in the league today.
Coach Harbaugh was also excited about the pick: “Another big man. Another big man who plays very physical and that was our theme if you look at our draft this year; guys that are big men that play physical.”
As an under-the-radar pick, Dial has a chance to emerge as another strong pick from this 2013 draft class. He is physically gifted, has plenty of room for growth and the 49ers are infatuated with his upside.
“Just a big, raw guy that we brought in here for a visit, really fell in love with the personality and the story. And think his upside is real big,” Baalke said.
Projections: 11 tackles, two TFL, and 1.5 sacks
Dial to SF. Good pick. Great point by Mayock -- ideal 5 tech DE in a 3-4. Ray McDonald isn't a 3-down DE. Dial can alleviate that.— Chuck Kingsbury (@ChuckKingsbury) April 27, 2013
Weight: 236 lbs.
School: Florida St.
The 49ers’ draft strategy was sound.
After taking a safety in Round 1 and grounding themselves on BPA/needs in the middle rounds, the 49ers shifted gears again in the late rounds, seeking out potential special teams aces.
If Nick Moody makes this team, it will be because he has ability on special teams. And ideally, the 49ers would like to be able to trust him as a No. 3 ILB, but that will be up to him.
As a sixth-rounder, the former Seminole will have a legitimate chance to compete for a roster spot. Larry Grant and Tavares Gooden were not retained by San Francisco, which introduced vacancies at the inside linebacker position.
Moody has a versatile background, having started at both safety and linebacker at Florida State.
In three years at safety, he tallied 135 tackles, one interception, one sack and one forced fumble. He would convert to a linebacker a senior (2012), racking up 20 tackles and one sack in 14 games.
If he is on the final roster, Moody should carve out a role on special teams while being slotted as the backup to Patrick Willis and NaVorro Bowman.
Projections: 11 tackles, one forced fumble
New #49ers ILB Nick Moody: "I’ll be able to learn a lot playing alongside NaVorro Bowman and Patrick Willis. It’s a great situation for me"— Cam Inman (@CamInman) April 27, 2013
Weight: 217 lbs.
School: South Florida
In the seventh round of the draft, the 49ers would add another quarterback to their roster.
USF’s B.J. Daniels was selected at No. 237 overall, giving San Francisco an athletic playmaking-type quarterback.
He is not a traditional pocket quarterback like Tyler Bray (Tennessee) or Matt Scott (Arizona), but that was not what the Niners were looking for, since they passed on both players to take Daniels in the seventh.
“Just liked his athletic instincts. He’s a playmaker,” Baalke said about Daniels.
Having worked with Josh Johnson, and now Colin Kaepernick, B.J. Daniels seems like a great side project for QB guru Jim Harbaugh. He is another raw late-rounder with untapped ability that could improve with coaching.
During their evaluation process, the 49ers thought Daniels was fiery competitor that showed up to win big games.
“He won big games on the road. He went into Florida State, into Tallahassee, and won a game there. He’s won big games throughout his career there. He’s a fearless competitor. He just had a lot of qualities that we liked,” the 49ers GM continued.
And in a lot of ways, the 49ers are thrilled with the athlete they managed to get at that stage in the draft. In their eyes, Daniels can be more than just a quarterback, and they’re going to give him every opportunity to find his niche.
Entering training camp, B.J. Daniels might be in line to participate with several position groups.
Jim Harbaugh noted,
With the athleticism you wonder, how many ways could he contribute to this team and to this roster? The quarterback position, but at 217 pounds, 5’11 ½”, can he be a running back? Can he be a wide receiver? Can he be a kick returner—a punt returner? That idea of being a Swiss army knife kind of comes up again.
If seventh-round pick B.J. Daniels ends up on the roster or practice squad, he seems like a good scout team QB for Russell Wilson. #49ers— Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) April 28, 2013
Weight: 306 lbs.
School: Iowa St.
The 49ers potentially could have addressed the offensive line in the middle rounds in an attempt to locate more adequate depth or a long-term successor to Jonathan Goodwin at center.
San Francisco held off until its first compensatory selection in Round 7 to take an offensive line prospect.
The 49ers, as is becoming their modus operandi, selected a small school tackle in Iowa State’s Carter Bykowski. This is an approach the front office has displayed since Jim Harbaugh’s arrival in 2011.
With most of the components in place, the team has been looking for mid-to-late round talents with developmental upside. At nearly 6’7” and 300-plus pounds, Bykowski certainly qualifies as such.
The 49ers also like the demeanor he plays with.
“Toughness. He’s a tough guy. He’s not afraid to get dirty,” Baalke said about the Big-12 tackle. The 49ers like tenacity from their offensive line and overall powering performances.
Bykowski has the potential to step in and back up Joe Staley and Anthony Davis at the tackle positions. With Alex Boone now entrenched at starting right guard, the 49ers lack depth at tackle, which is the reasoning behind the Bykowski pick.
“[Bykowski] plays left tackle in a tough conference where you’ve got to handle the edges. Just the grit, the intelligence, the work ethic—all of those things that played into that,” Baalke said about the selection.
If his game translates, Bykowski will be a competitive presence in camp. And again, with the need for a tackle, the 49ers want him to step up with his play and claim the spot. It should be his job to lose in camp.
The 49ers select OT Carter Bykowski (6-6, 306) from Iowa State.— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoCSN) April 27, 2013
Weight: 192 lbs.
Another position the 49ers could have addressed much earlier in the draft was cornerback.
San Francisco deferred until Round 7 to select Marcus Cooper of Rutgers.
In 29 career games with the Scarlet Knights, Cooper amassed 88 tackles, one interception and seven pass breakups. He is a long, physical corner that has the tools to be effective at the next level.
When Trent Baalke was asked about what the 49ers got in Cooper, he replied, “A tall corner that runs pretty well. Plays pretty good football. And just a guy that has the traits that you’re looking for at the position. And hopefully you bring them in and they develop.”
Again, the 49ers are willing to bring in a player with untapped potential and see what results their coaching staff gets. With his size, Cooper brings an element this secondary does not have, which would make him both unique and complementary.
But like LB Nick Moody, the Rutgers corner is going to have to prove himself to coordinator Brad Seely on special teams. If he can show his worth in multiple phases, the Niners will retain and continue to develop him.
Projections: Nine tackles, one pass breakup
Marcus Cooper is another hard hitting player.Dan Skuta, Nick Moody and Cooper could be core special teams guys. #49ers— Christian Gin (@Christian_Gin) April 27, 2013
Weight: 308 lbs.
“An Adonis. Just a great physical specimen of a man. Our creator created a beautiful man,” said Coach Harbaugh on his esteemed UDFA addition.
After the draft wrapped up, the 49ers were able to sign Olympian Lawrence Okoye—the British record-holder for discus. With his herculean measurables, he was one of the more unique stories to emerge during the pre-draft process.
Having never played organized football in his life, Okoye, 21, is going to start from scratch at the NFL level. For most, this is an unfathomable task.
But Okoye is unlike most.
The 49ers staff believes that with his track record, supported by both his mental and physical capacity, Okoye can do exciting things in the National Football League. They believe it is an appropriate challenge for an individual of his caliber.
“Things that really impressed; he had the rugby background growing up. And didn’t start throwing the discus until he was 18 years old, and then two years later he’s throwing it in the Olympics,” Harbaugh stated.
San Francisco recognized his ability to commit himself to a craft and master it—and at a world-class level, no less.
This is an athlete with a truckload of ability, standing at a towering 6’6”, 308 pounds, and having run a 4.78 40-yard dash at the Super Regional Combine. These are more prestigious measurables than All-Pro DE J.J. Watt showed at the combine.
With similar measurables, there is a chance that the British-born athlete can be molded to fit that prototype.
“Well, if there is anybody in the National Football League who has more experience with that it’s [defensive line coach] Jim Tomsula, who coached in the European League. This is what he did for years,” Harbaugh astutely noted.
Tomsula spent considerable time in the European League and had a great deal of success working with players from all over the world. Granted, while those players had football experience, this is a task not outside Tomsula’s threshold.
Harbaugh would go on to say, “There’s a lot positions he could be, but I think we’ll start on the defensive line.”
Small world: One of the athletes who trained with Colin Kaepernick in Atlanta was former discus thrower Lawrence Okoye, who met with 49ers.— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) April 16, 2013
Dylan DeSimone is the San Francisco 49ers' lead columnist for Bleacher Report. A former NFL journalist and fantasy football writer for SB Nation, Niners Nation and SB Nation Bay Area, Dylan now writes for B/R.
To talk football with Dylan, follow him on Twitter @DeSimone80.