While more NFL offenses move away from backs as their focus, the 49ers' selection of Carlos Hyde reaffirmed their commitment to the run.
Best move: Ohio State running back Carlos Hyde, who was widely considered the best overall running back available. The devaluation of running backs has become an NFL trend. It has happened in the last couple of free-agency periods and in the last couple of drafts. However, the 49ers are still a run-first offense. Frank Gore is turning 31 next week and is entering the final year of his contract. Marcus Lattimore, who was taken in the fourth round last year, is still a question mark as he recovers from a devastating 2012 knee injury suffered while at South Carolina. Hyde can help immediately. He is tough and is a perfect fit for this offense. He'll be an instant contributor.
Riskiest move: Clemson guard Brandon Thomas. The risk lies in the fact that Thomas recently tore his ACL -- an injury he also suffered in high school. Taking a player in the third round fresh off of a torn ACL may be considered a risk, but it's a risk the 49ers are used to. They did it last year with Lattimore and defensive lineman Tank Carradine. If he can stay healthy, Thomas can be a long-term starter at guard. He was expected to go in the second round before his injury, so there is a reward factor with this risk.
Most surprising move: Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward. We might as well start at the top. When it was announced the 49ers were taking Ward at No. 30, it was stunning. They took safety Eric Reid in the first round last year and they just signed Antoine Bethea to a four-year, $23 million deal. However, as the smoke cleared, the pick started to make more sense. The highly regarded Ward will play nickel cornerback initially for the 49ers. It is the team's biggest need. Yes, we all expected the 49ers to take a cornerback early to play nickel, but they went with a safety. Surprise.
File it away: South Florida product and Notre Dame transfer Aaron Lynch has big skills, but the fifth-round pick has character issues as well. The 49ers visited with him extensively and have ties to him through South Florida -- coach Willie Taggert is a close friend of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. Many scouts feel that if Lynch can avoid off-the-field issues, he can be a big-time pass-rusher. Lynch's role model is the late Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones, whom he researched on the internet. It's worth a shot for a team that is deep and had so many picks.