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Tuesday, January 28, 2014
San Francisco 49ers rookie review

By Bill Williamson

With the San Francisco 49ers' season over, let’s take a look at the impact made by the rookie class:

First round: The 49ers traded up to take safety Eric Reid at No. 18 and they have not been disappointed. He made the Pro Bowl after a strong season in which he showed the game is not too big for him. Reid was very polished and he seems like he will be a big part of the team's future for many years.

Second round: The 49ers feel very good about tight end Vance McDonald's future. He improved as the season went on, especially as a blocker, but he must improve as a receiver, too.

Third round: Auburn linebacker Corey Lemonier played more earlier in the season when Aldon Smith was away from the team, but he did play on special teams for much of the season. He has potential and provides the 49ers with good depth.

Fourth round: Receiver Quinton Patton returned from a Week 4 broken foot in December and showed a real burst. He has explosion and plays with a lot of confidence. He looks like he may be a find.

Fifth round: Defensive tackles Quinton Dial didn’t play much, but the team likes him and he has a chance to be a rotational player soon.

Sixth round: The 49ers like linebacker Nick Moody's his special-teams potential.

Undrafted free agents

Long snapper: Kevin McDermott's battle with longtime snapper Brian Jennings was a story during the preseason. McDermott won the job partly on price tag, and the move paid off. McDermott did a great job all season and had chemistry with kicker Phil Dawson and punter Andy Lee. He looks like he will be a 49er for many years.

Cornerback: Darryl Morris has developed into a key piece for a vastly improved coverage unit. The team likes his potential on defense, as well.

Note: This class can get a lot better. Second-round pick Tank Carradine, a defensive lineman , and fourth-round pick, running back Marcus Lattimore, missed last year with torn ACLs. Both were considered first-round picks had they been healthy. Both are expected to be healthy in 2014, and have a lot of potential.

Conclusion: This looks to be a strong class after a mostly wasted 2012 draft. This class is deep with long-term potential, especially if McDonald takes the next step and Carradine and Lattimore can stay healthy.