We continue our look today at the teams the 49ers will face and what they’ve done in the draft with our look at the AFC South.
S Malik Hooker, Round 1 Pick 15
CB Quincy Wilson, Round 2 Pick 14
DE Tarell Bashem, Round 3 Pick 16
OT Zach Banner, Round 4 Pick 31
RB Marlon Mack, Round 4 Pick 37
DT Grover Stewart, Round 4 Pick 38
CB Nate Hairston, Round 5 Pick 14
LB Anthony Walker, Round 5 Pick 17
This was the first draft for Chris Ballard after he declined the GM position for the 49ers and accepted the job for the Colts. The interesting thing to me is, given the connection between Ballard and the Niners, this feels like a draft that the Niners could have done and would’ve equally helped them. Looking at the draft its clear the Colts had just as many of the same needs as SF, and they had even less picks to do it. On paper though, I really like this draft.
Malik Hooker is a player that probably should’ve been at play for SF at 2/3, even though he didn’t seem to be. Jimmie Ward is finally back at his more natural position at FS, and while he should be able to thrive in the position, Hooker would have made an impact Ward isn’t able to match. Wilson, if able to heal properly from his achilles injury before the draft, will be a lockdown corner for IND. Bashem is an incredibly fun player with a great motor. He should fit in nicely and could develop into a leader on the defense and set the tone during games. Banner has the ability to grow into a decent depth player, and potentially a starter if coached up properly. Given Andrew Lucks injury history and struggles the past couple years, any OL line help will surely be welcome.
Prediction against IND - L As of right now, the Colts have too many pieces that will keep the Niners from winning this one. Hooker is going to Feast on Hoyer/Barkley/Our Lord and Savior Beathard, I think the defense will hold IND back at first but afterr some second half adjustments they’ll start to pull away. Plus, lets be honest, I'll be totally ok with seeing Gore put up another big game for old times sake.
QB Deshaun Watson, Round 1 Pick 12
LB Zach Cunningham, Round 2 Pick 25
RB D’Onta Foreman, Round 3 Pick 25
T Julién Davenport, Round 4 Pick 24
DT Carlos Watkins, Round 4 Pick 36
S Treston Decoud, Roumd 5 Pick 25
C Kyle Fuller, Round 7 Pick 25
Houston was one of three teams to trade up for.a QB in the 2017 draft, a record for the event. They selected Deshaun Watson #12 overall, and its a semi perplexing pick. On the one hand, HOU seems to have finally found their QB after the Brock Osweiler fiasco. On the other hand. Houstons offense isn’t made up exclusively of short area throws, and will certainly test whether Watson can throw deep balls or not. HOU finally has a QB though, and one who, if given the chance to get to the playoffs, has more than enough college championship experience to potentially lead the team on a run.
Having a mobile QB to go with Lamar Miller and newly drafted D’Onta Foreman will surely test the front seven of the Niners. Creating pressure and boxing in Watson will be imperative, especially since he’s so young. They will need to set the tone early. Controlling Miller and Foreman will be tough but certainly doable. This will be a perfect game to test DJ Jones and see how well he can do stuffing gaps and clogging lanes.
Prediction against HOU - W I’m not going to predict scores. Not yet anyway. I will say this has the potential for a win. The defense will cause some trouble for SF but since its later in the season, if the offense can start clicking by the time this game rolls around in week 14, they may be able to outplay the defense. If the front 7 and CBs can hold HOU offense at bay, then they could be looking at going home after a 2-game road trip with a win.
RB Leonard Fournette, Round 1 Pick 4
OT Cam Robinson, Round 2 Pick 2
DE Dawuane Smoot, Round 3 Pick 4
WR Dede Westbrook, Round 4 Pick 3
LB Blair Brown, Round 5 Pick 4
CB Jalen Myrick, Round 7 Pick 4
FB Marquez Williams, Round 7 Pick 22
To be perfectly honest, I almost expected the Jags to take a QB early after Bortles seems to be backup quality only. They didn’t though, and Bortles lives to fight another day. What they did though, was to get Bortles one of the bruisest bruisers to ever bruise, aka Leonard Fournette. Getting a clear #1 RB to help ease the strain on Bortles will force him into a put up or shut up situation, probably the smartest thing they could do given the presumptive quality of the QB class of the 2018 draft.
But Fournette is not the type of runner to create his own lanes. He bullies smaller people, but isn’t able to handle his own against anyone bigger than a safety or cornerback. The pick of Robinson in the 2nd is an excellent pick in thus regard. Robinson was one of the best tackles in the draft and will help open some lanes for Fournette. I would not be surprised if Fournette has a year like Ezekiel Elliott did last year. Westbrook is a fun developmental WR that could fit in nicely in the Jags O
Prediction against JAX - L The Jags are a pretty bad team, and they didn’t do much in the draft to remedy that beyond the first couple rounds. This game is the second to last game for SF, though. Injuries will start to creep up. Exhaustion will set in. This will be a good game for the rookies and other young players of the team to gain valuable experience. This won’t be a shootout by any stretch of the imagination. SF could be starting Beathard by this point. I think it’ll be a sloppy game where they just can’t get anything going on offense. I’ll guess 13-7. This game could seriously go either way though and would be more than happy with a hard fought win.
WR Corey Davis, Round 1 Pick 5
CB Adoree Jackson, Round 1 Pick 18
WR Taywan Taylor, Round 3 Pick 18
TE Jonnu Smith, Round 3 Pick 36
LB Jason Brown, Round 5 Pick 11
OL Corey Levin, Round 6 Pick 34
OLB Josh Carraway, Round 7 Pick9
OT Brad Seaton, Round 7 Pick 18
RB Khalfani Muhhammad, Round 7 Pick 23
Well, for lack of a better phrase, TEN had themselves a draft.They were destined to make a splash with 2 picks in the 1st round, but boy did they break the mindset of draft twitter. Lots of people anticipated a draft day slide for Corey Davis. I mean, teams had no 40-time for him. Obviously that makes him a 7th rounder. Davis is likely just that good though, and when he eventually gets his ankle healed, he will be the Titans #1 receiver, and it won’t really be close.
If Davis is your big numbers guy, Taylor is your quick, short area guy. For whatever reason they felt they needed to get Mariota more weapons, and adding in TE Smith, who is basicallyy Melanie Walker-lite, should completely overhaul TEN offense. This team will be fun as hell to watch and should be able to showcase just how good Mariota can be.
Prediction against TEN - L Just like with the Jags game, this game comes later in the season (Week 15). The same injury concerns are there. The best case scenario for this game is that it won’t be a crazy blowout. This game will truly test our new defense and show good they can be and an idea of the ceiling of each player. Witherspoon and Robinson will be tested early and often, and whether they can fight back and thrive will show exactlyy how good they can be together. If the front 7 can produce any kind of pass rush, it may be close. Knocking Mariota around will be key. Looking at this game as a test is the safer bet, though.
How do you think SF will do against the AFC South? What do you think of how the other teams drafted? Join me (@FakeScottYoung) and @49ersHub in the conversation. We’d love to hear what you think!
Stay tuned to for the next installment of 49ers Opponents Draft Recap, only on the 49ersHub website and twitter.