Hot Takes, Predictions for 49ers Rookies After 2022 NFL Draft

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 4, 2022

Hot Takes, Predictions for 49ers Rookies After 2022 NFL Draft

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers made some practical moves in the 2022 NFL draft.

    Kyle Shanahan and his staff added help on the defensive interior with the team's first pick of the selection process. USC's Drake Jackson could end up as a steal at the 61st overall pick. He will be asked to provide pass-rushing help behind Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.

    The 49ers added two intriguing offensive pieces after Jackson in the form of LSU running back Tyrion Davis-Price and SMU wide receiver Danny Gray.

    Neither player was an outright star in college but could turn into a decent NFL player if he fits the 49ers' system.

    The rest of San Francisco's draft class features two offensive tackles, a pair of cornerbacks, one defensive tackle and Iowa State quarterback Brock Purdy.

    Most of those players will not make an impact in Week 1, but if one of them does, it will be offensive tackle Spencer Burford out of UTSA.

Drake Jackson Becomes Important Pass-Rushing Piece

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    Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

    Drake Jackson comes to the 49ers with 25 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks over three seasons at USC.

    His best numbers came in his freshman season, when he produced 11.5 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks. Jackson put up solid totals in his other two seasons in college, but the 49ers will be hoping the player from his freshman campaign shows up.

    The 61st overall pick can add pass-rushing depth behind Nick Bosa and Dee Ford, and he could compete for starting snaps if he realizes his potential.

    The 49ers may also rely on Jackson to come up with tackles in the run game because of his high tackles-for-loss totals.

    Jackson might be plugged in more on run-stopping downs to slow the high-powered offenses in the NFC West.

    San Francisco's pick makes a ton of sense because it needed depth on defensive line, and any upgrades help in a competitive division.

    Jackson will not have a Bosa-like impact in his rookie season, but he has a chance to put up solid numbers and be an effective member of the pass-rushing unit.

Roles of Tyrion Davis-Price, Danny Gray Dependent on Deebo Samuel

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    Here is the least surprising hot take of the 49ers' offseason: The expected production of Tyrion Davis-Price and Danny Gray is dependent on what the team does with Deebo Samuel.

    No trade emerged during the draft, which seemed like the ideal time to deal the star wide receiver. The draft capital received in return for Samuel could have helped the 49ers mold their 2022 roster.

    Instead, the 49ers are stuck with a handful of decent pieces behind Samuel on the wide receiver depth chart that young quarterback Trey Lance has to build chemistry with in case the star wideout is gone by September.

    Gray could fit the down-the-field playmaker role. He averaged 13.3 yards per catch in his final season at SMU. But San Francisco's potential problem is that some of its wide receivers do the same thing. Brandon Aiyuk and free-agent signings Ray-Ray McCloud and Malik Turner could be deep threats as well.

    If Samuel departs, the 49ers will need all hands on deck, and targets could open up for Gray behind Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings.

    Davis-Price could have carries taken away if Samuel stays and touches the ball on a frequent basis.

    The LSU product is coming off a 1,000-yard season and does not have much wear on his body. He had a single 200-carry season in the SEC.

    Davis-Price could be what the 49ers hoped Trey Sermon would be last season, but he still has to fight for carries with Elijah Mitchell, Jeff Wilson and JaMycal Hasty.

    The best-case scenario for both rookies is Samuel gets traded before training camp, opening up snaps.

    If not, it may be difficult for both players to be on the field at a high rate at the start of the season.

Spencer Burford Could Become Most Practical Pick of Draft Class

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The 49ers made a smart move to upgrade their offensive-line depth with the fourth-round selection of Spencer Burford.

    The UTSA product could be valuable to the 49ers right away because of his run-blocking prowess.

    Burford played inside an offense that relied heavily on the ground game. With his help, Sincere McCormick became one of the highest gainers in Division I.

    San Francisco's biggest interior need is at offensive guard, where Colton McKivitz and Daniel Brunskill are penciled in as starters.

    Alex Mack's future has not yet been determined. That could force one of the guards further inside and open up a starting job.

    Outside of Jackson, Burford has the clearest path to playing time. He can do so by impressing with his run-blocking traits in training camp.

    The rest of the picks from the fourth round and later could be useful for depth in their rookie seasons, but Burford has a real chance to make an impact if Mack does not come back.