34. Quinton Patton, WR
As a rookie receiver from Louisiana Tech, Quinton Patton is in line to make an impact for San Francisco. At the moment, though, he is an untested commodity in an understudy role.
Before OTAs even began, Patton’s work ethic was apparent to the team, as he hurried to the practice facility in Santa Clara. This sort of dedication and stick-to-itiveness will only help him progress, and may help him be a factor this year.
It goes without saying that Patton is going to be asked to step up and contribute with the recent injury to No. 1 wide receiver Michael Crabtree, who was the team’s lone reigning 1,000-yard receiver.
This left a sizable gap in terms of production, which needs to be accounted for.
During his days in the NCAA, Patton was characterized as an explosive receiver and a true competitor, habitually thriving in pressure situations where the team needed him to assert himself.
Admittedly, Patton is taking on a thick playbook and has a lot to learn as he transitions to the pro level. There will be a learning curve but the talent is there for him to be a real threat in 2013.
33. Vance McDonald, TE
As a greenhorn in the Bay Area, 49ers tight end Vance McDonald will be asked to step up right away, particularly in the wake of Delanie Walker’s sudden departure to Tennessee.
Given his measurables (6’4”, 276 lbs.), hands and speed (4.60 40 time), San Francisco expects McDonald to add an entirely new dimension to this swiftly evolving offense by Week 1.
This is imperative due to the system offensive coordinator Greg Roman runs, which employs a number of two-plus tight end sets. In 2012, Walker competed in 56.82 percent of the snaps, listing as the No. 2 TE on the depth chart (571 plays).
The role left by Walker is now on McDonald to fulfill, which entails a vast set of responsibilities including: intricate run blocking and pass protection, as well as lining up in the backfield, slot and outside the numbers.
As the new joker tight end for San Francisco, the team is counting on his ability to do it all in his first season without a drop-off in performance.
32. Tank Carradine, DT
Despite entering the league as the No. 40 overall pick in 2012, Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller had Carradine as a top-five-ranked player. It was a late-season ACL tear that caused the Florida State defender’s stock to drop.
Miller, judging him on talent alone, declared Carradine one of the very best incoming prospects available.
Ergo, when it comes to the long-term value, the 49ers might have found themselves another diamond in the rough. At 6’4”, 276 pounds, Carradine has nearly identical dimensions to his new mentor, lineman Justin Smith.
As a rookie, Carradine will step in, weight train and learn the fundamentals of 3-4 defensive tackle. As a high-ceiling prospect taking a slow and steady approach, this is a top-10 player in the making.
31. Parys Haralson, OLB
Following the upsurge of Aldon Smith on the right side, 49ers linebacker Parys Haralson agreed to restructure his deal to remain in San Francisco, per Janie McCauley of the Associated Press.
In a case of the rich getting richer, the 49ers will relegate this former starter to a backup role, in which he is more than qualified. As the primary No. 3 OLB, Haralson will provide a veteran presence and a strong rotational option.
During his tenure in the league, Haralson, 29, has been routinely tough against the run but offers little in the pass-rush department. He will be returning from a tricep tear that caused him to miss the entire 2012 season.
By retaining his services for at least one more season, the 49ers have shown how they value his contributions, even despite adding a plethora of defensive talent in the 2012 draft.
As a starter in 2011, he might have ranked higher on this list two years ago, but the times are changing in San Francisco.
30. Phil Dawson, K
After 14 productive seasons in Cleveland, All-Pro place kicker Phil Dawson has finally moved on to greener pastures.
Dawson is coming off a Pro Bowl year in 2012, and will provide a much-needed service for San Francisco going forward. After enduring the brisk decline from David Akers, the 49ers had to re-infuse consistency into the kicker position.
Showing just that, Dawson connected on 29-of-31 a season ago, including 7-of-7 from 50-plus yards out. This made him No. 2 in field goal percentage for the year. He will be an asset to an organization that values their special teams contributors.
29. Nnamdi Asomugha, CB
One would think that a four-time All-Pro would be higher on this list, but the fact is, Nnamdi Asomugha signed with San Francisco looking to re-prove himself after a two-year decline with the Eagles.
Asomugha is a 6’2”, 210-pound corner with long arms, quickness and true lockdown ability. From 2003-2010, he played within Oakland’s man-to-man defense and was an elite defensive back in this league.
Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Asomugha was hardly thrown at.
Asomugha always excelled at bump-and-run, sticking to receivers like glue. He was never an improvisational corner that thrived in zone, which is what Philadelphia attempted to do with him.
Now an 11-year pro, Asomugha will return to a system that suits his ability on game day. Moreover, he is an intelligent defensive back with the anticipation to be a lockdown CB for San Francisco in 2013.
While he is outside the top 25 players now, he is a candidate to leap into the team’s top 15 if he returns to form.
28. Kyle Williams, WR
Drafted by the 49ers in Round 6 in 2010, Kyle Williams has shown flashes of brilliant play here and there.
Even though it’s been a rollercoaster start to his career, the quick-footed receiver from Arizona State has showcased enough potential to endure a regime change, remaining on of the most competitive rosters in the league.
Entering his fourth season, Williams has very real potential to emerge as a downfield threat in this new-look offense. The insertion of Colin Kaepernick makes him a legitimate candidate to take over for the injured Michael Crabtree in 2013.
As a slot-type receiver, Williams uses his quickness to create separation and make plays after the catch. He also has the ability to get vertical, which may occur more often now that San Francisco has a passer that looks downfield.
27. Glenn Dorsey, DT
After five seasons spent in Kansas City, which included 65 starts, Glenn Dorsey is looking to breathe new life into his career with the 49ers. The former No. 5 overall pick from 2008 first entered this league with a world of potential but has failed to see it thus far.
As a new addition, he will only add to a strong defensive line, looking to replace the void left in the middle by Isaac Sopoaga (Eagles) and Ricky-Jean Francois (Colts). As the team’s first offseason acquisition, he is the favorite to start in Week 1.
At 6’1”, 297 pounds, Dorsey will be the two-down nose guard, playing the gaps, absorbing protections and stuffing the run. As a wide-bodied lineman, he excels at boxing in the play and taking up space.
Given the one-dimensional nature of his game, though, the lack of pass-rush ability keeps Dorsey out of top-20 consideration.
26. Eric Reid, S
Hailing from LSU, Eric Reid joins the 49ers as a hammer of a safety, only adding to this tenacious defense. He is one of the top defensive backs to have played in the SEC, making plays and setting the tempo for a consistently strong Tigers unit.
While Reid is unproven, he figures to have a prominent role in the defense as a rookie with Dashon Goldson now in Tampa Bay (h/t NFL.com). He boasts a similar downhill style of play, which should make for a steady transition going from one free safety to the next.
Yet Reid still needs to evolve as a coverage DB and embed himself within the defense. As a first-rounder San Francisco jumped up to acquire, hopefully he will establish himself as a top-15 player for this team by season's end.
25. LaMichael James, RB
Although he is new to the National Football League, James is one of the higher-rated players given his potential. The former Oregon Duck came to San Francisco as one of the most prolific backs in college history.
He is an explosive athlete possessing incomparable stop-and-start ability combined with sensational lateral quickness.
In limited time in 2012, it appears as if James’ unique skill set will translate to the next level, which gives him respectable value already. The same set of physical tools that made him so productive in the NCAA has since been problematic for pro defenders.
As he develops, James will likely become a dangerous weapon for the Niners.