San Francisco 49ers: Mel Kiper

In his annual post-draft grades,Insider, ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. gave two teams a high mark of an "A."

One team desperately needed it – the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other team that Kiper gave the top grade to was the San Francisco 49ers. Well, that’s just piling on. The 49ers, who also traded for standout receiver Stevie Johnson during the draft, entered the draft with perhaps the NFL’s finest roster. Well, it got a lot better.

Here is some of Kiper’s reasoning for giving the 49ers such a great grade: The Niners just got so many good players. Safety Jimmie Ward will cover, attack the line of scrimmage, and will play fast and fearless. If you call that a reach, remember that Arizona had taken Deone Bucannon at No. 27, so there were already three safeties off the board (not that Bucannon and Ward are that similar) and the 49ers knew if they didn't nab Ward there, they had no chance later. They got the No. 1 RB in the draft at No. 57. Frank Gore has a lot of miles on the odometer, LaMichael James may not be there long, and if Marcus Lattimore is your No. 1, you better have a 1-A. Carlos Hyde made sense and, again, he's the top RB in the draft. Marcus Martin is a future starter at center; Chris Borland gives immediate depth at linebacker and has the experience to play now. Brandon Thomas is another 49ers redshirt, but could be a star guard when he comes back (he hurt his knee this spring, but would have gone in Round 2 otherwise). Bruce Ellington isn't a far cry from Brandin Cooks, but he went 86 picks later. It goes on and on. Dontae Johnson is solid and Aaron Lynch has developmental promise. I even like the pick at No. 245 -- Trey Millard is the top fullback in the draft and was another guy who dropped on some boards after a knee injury. What I like about this draft is the 49ers are in a championship window, and they still managed to balance both the need for immediate help and also got a lot of talent for the future.

What stood out to me about the 49ers’ draft is that they scored so many players who can make an impact, but were available lower than projected. Those players include Hyde, Martin, Borland and Ellington. Truly, the rich got richer.

Meanwhile,Insider in an Insider piece, Todd McShay really likes two 49ers’ picks a lot.
ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay have released their final mock drafts of the year in Insider pieces. Both men have the San Francisco 49ers getting a receiver.

In Kiper's mock Insider, he has Indiana’s Cody Latimer going to the 49ers at No. 30. If the 49ers -- who reportedly are trying to trade up for a receiver -- stay at No. 30, Latimer would be a tremendous value. I’d be surprised if he is there, as I think he'll go in the 22-26 range.

A lot of people, including me, think the 49ers will attempt to trade up for a top receiver such as LSU’s Odell Beckham Jr. McShay agrees. Insider But the rule of this mock is there are no trades. So, McShay admitted he fudged some and had Beckham slide to the 49ers at No. 30. He knows it's unlikely, but because the 49ers' pursuit of Beckham appears real, he made this pairing.
ESPN draft experts Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay executed a live draft Thursday night. The two analysts rotated picks. The rules of the mock were that they picked the players they would take in each spot, not necessarily the player they think the teams will take. As part of an Insider piece, the two experts also mocked the second and third rounds.Insider

Let’s take a look at their choices for the 49ers:

1. 30. Kiper's pick: Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA

2. 56. Kiper's pick: Pierre Desir, CB, Lindenwood

2. 61. McShay's pick: Daquan Jones, DT, Penn State

3. 77. McShay's pick: Paul Richardson, WR, Colorado

3. 94. Kiper's pick: John Brown, WR, Pittsburgh State

3.100. Kiper's pick: Marcus Roberson, CB, Florida

My thoughts: This is not a bad draft. Kiper and McShay pegged some nice players for the 49ers. The Barr pick is interesting. The NFL Nation reporters are going to have a mock draft next Tuesday. I have Barr on my list, but I will be looking at cornerback and receiver first. In this draft, Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin was still on the board when the 49ers were up. I’d probably take him over Barr. I like the Desir and Roberson picks at cornerback. I also like the Richardson and Brown picks. I’m not sure how many of these players are ready to help (the 49ers need immediate help at cornerback), but there is good projected talent here.
Earlier Tuesday, we looked at scenarios in which the San Francisco 49ers could miss a player at one of their top need positions -- cornerback and receiver -- with the No. 30 pick.

In a recent conference call with NFL Nation reporters, ESPN draft expert Todd McShay said he wasn't sure whether the five cornerbacks and five receivers he thinks are worthy of going in the first round will be available when the 49ers pick in the first round.

However, in mock drafts released Tuesday, both Mel Kiper and McShay think the 49ers will get a chance to take one of those players.

Kiper has the 49ers tabbed to take Vanderbilt receiver Jordan Matthews. He is one of the receivers McShay thinks is worthy of a first-round grade. The player Kiper has tabbed to go one pick later, to Denver at No. 31, is one of the five cornerbacks McShay likes in the first round: TCU's Jason Verrett.

If I was making this pick, I'd take Verrett over Matthews. The need at cornerback is more immediate and the receiver class is deep. The 49ers could get a good receiver at either No. 56 or No. 61.

McShay has the 49ers taking Florida State receiver Kelvin Benjamin. He was the last of the seven first-round-worthy receivers available on McShay's mock. I could see that being a solid choice if that is the way the board falls.
One of the most interesting, confusing positions in the 2014 draft, according to ESPN expert Mel Kiper, is the quarterback position.

“It can go a lot of ways,” Kiper said.

Kiper said opinions very greatly about the prospects. He said there could be a situation where 12 different teams could have 12 different top-rated players at the position this year. The San Francisco 49ers are one of those teams that have to shuffle through the confusion. Quarterback is one of the positions the 49ers are expected to look at in the mid-rounds as they try to develop a backup behind starter Colin Kaepernick. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh has been working out quarterbacks this spring.

Two of the quarterbacks Harbaugh has worked out -- Eastern Illinois Jimmy Garoppolo and Virginia Tech's Logan Thomas -- are two of the more intriguing second-tier quarterbacks to Kiper. He thinks Garoppolo has a chance to go early in the second round because some teams are big believers in him. I'd be surprised if the 49ers used that high of a pick on a quarterback this year.

Kip thinks Logan could be a fit for the 49ers. Last week, he pegged the 49ers taking Thomas with the final pick of the third round. Kiper said Thomas is an intriguing player who has ability but whose play regressed as his college career went on.

“He is a physical freak,” Kiper said of Thomas.

If the timing is right, I could see Kiper being right and Thomas ending up being a Harbaugh project in this topsy-turvy quarterback class.
Mel Kiper Jr. isn't as sold on this NFL draft class as a whole as some others around the league are. Kiper, who has been evaluating draft prospects for 35 years, thinks there are some holes.

However, some good news for the San Francisco 49ers, Kiper does believe with the masses in this regard -- he thinks the receiver and cornerback positions are stacked and those positions just happen to be the two biggest need areas for the 49ers.

In a near-hour conference call with NFL Nation reporters, Kiper repeatedly talked about the virtues of the two positions. I asked him if he thought the 49ers, who have a surplus of picks and few needs, should trade way up in the first round to get a receiver, such as Texas A&M's Mike Evans or a cornerback such as Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert.

Kiper said he thinks the 49ers, who have the No. 30th pick in the first round, can play the draft any way they feel comfortable. "They can go either way depending on their board," Kiper said, "or they can stay put and get both."

Kiper says some options for the 49ers at No. 30 include receivers Odell Beckham Jr. of LSU, Brandin Cooks of Oregon State and Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State.

Also, Kiper is a believer in TCU cornerback Jason Verrett, who is recovering from a torn labrum. Verrett is small, but a supreme slot cornerback, Kiper said. Other cornerbacks, who the 49ers may be able to get in a trade early in the second round, include Nebraska’s Stan Jean-Baptiste and Utah's Keith McGill. Both are bigger cornerbacks, which the 49ers covet.

Analyzing Kiper 3.0: 49ers

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest choice for the San Francisco 49ers in the first round Insider is Virginia Tech cornerback Kyle Fuller.

Fuller is a fast riser and a popular pick these days. Fuller, whose two older brothers played in the NFL, had a terrific scouting combine last month in which he showed great speed. Cornerback will certainly be a top priority in the draft for San Francisco.

If the board falls the way Kiper sees it, I could also see Fresno State receiver Davante Adams being the choice at No. 30. Receiver is arguably the team's greatest need in the draft.

Kiper's Mock 3.0: 49ers

March, 13, 2014
Mar 13
We interrupt free agency with a draft diversion Thursday as ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.'s third mock draft for the first round of the May draft is revealed.

Kiper has given the San Francisco 49ers an LSU receiver with the 30th picking each of his first two mock-draft efforts.

He gave Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry to the 49ers. There's a good chance neither player is the pick this time around. Beckham had a great combine and he may be a top-25 pick. Landry, however, wasn't as impressive and may be a second-round prospect.

I would expect Kiper to slot the 49ers with a receiver or a cornerback. They are the team's two biggest needs.

Mel Kiper's latest mock draft .
SANTA CLARA, Calif. – There is no doubt the San Francisco 49ers will miss fullback Bruce Miller, who is out for the season with a broken scapula.

However, coach Jim Harbaugh made it clear Thursday the team is confident that Miller's backup, Anthony Dixon, will perform well in the role.

“Anthony Dixon will step up and do a great job, as he has been doing in that backup fullback role,” Harbaugh said. “You never have to worry about AD’s effort, and I look forward to watching him compete.”

Harbaugh said the newly signed Will Tukuafu will primarily be a fullback, but added that he can play defensive line in am emergency. When Tukuafu was previously with the 49ers, over the past three years, he was primarily a defensive tackle who dabbled as a fullback.

In other 49ers notes:
  • Harbaugh had high praise for quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s ability to throw to his left. High praise. Check it out: “I’ve never seen anybody throw to their left on the run better than Colin. Comparative to the universe of quarterbacks. It’s a rare comparison.”
  • Here’s Kaepernick, a native of Wisconsin who moved to California as a child, on memories of Candlestick Park: “I was a Packers fan growing up, so don’t quite have the same memories.”
  • Mel Kiper Jr. believes 49ers safety Eric Reid has been the 11th-best rookie Insider in the NFL this season. There is no question, Reid has become a vital part of a great defense.
  • Can Michael Crabtree be trusted as a Week 16 fantasy play?

Greg Roman pins blames on himself

November, 14, 2013
SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The San Francisco 49ers' offense, especially quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has been criticized this week after settling for three field goals in a 10-9 home loss to Carolina.

Naturally, offensive coordinator Greg Roman blamed himself Thursday for issues with the unit last Sunday.

"Anytime we don't have success, it definitely starts with me, and we've got to get it fixed," Roman said. "It's something we're working hard to do. Any time we fall short, I'm looking at myself first and foremost, and we've got to get it fixed."

Roman said the team needs to do a better job on third-and-short situations and cut down on negative plays. Counting penalties, the 49ers had negative plays on 13 of their 52 offensive snaps. A 25 percent clip is not going to get it done.

Still, as has the 49ers' offense as a whole this year, Roman has done well. Sunday was just an all-around poor performance.

In other 49ers notes:
  • Roman said planning for this Saints' defense is totally different from last year because of defensive coordinator's Rob Ryan's scheme. Roman said it is closer to the defense Greg Williams ran in 2001 than last season's Saints' scheme.
  • In an Insider piece, Mel Kiper thinks the 49ers may draft a quarterback to be a backup. I completely agree. We've seen the backup dance the 49ers have done at this position this season. They clearly want an upgrade there.
  • Upon film review, the league took a sack away from linebacker Ahmad Brooks. His total against Carolina went from three to two. He leads the 49ers with 5.5 sacks.