The 49ers Offseason Rookie Hype Index

July 16, 2017

Hype is a terrible word.

 

'Get hype', or 'I'm so hype' are ridiculous phrases that have seemingly made their way into modern-day lexicon while, in football terms, hype is something that many players - particularly rookies - often fail to justify.

 

All that aside, you are going to see plenty of said word in this article, as -- with just two weeks to go until training camp -- we measure the varying amounts of hype the 49ers rookies have received so far in the offseason.

 

Honorable mentions 

 

Undrafted free agent Matt Breida had the best SPARQ score of any running back in the 2017 class and, per The Sacramento Bee, had more highlights than fourth-round pick Joe Williams in spring practices. Breida's speed has been evident and he has reportedly excelled at catching short passes and getting upfield.

 

Defensive back Lorenzo Jerome has also caught the eye with impressive instincts while spending time at both safety and nickel.

 

Little to no hype

 

Perhaps predictably, the 49ers' final three picks of the 2017 draft have received little in the way of hype. We haven't heard much about D.J. Jones, likely because he has buried on a stacked defensive line depth chart, or edge rusher Pita Taumoepenu or defensive back Adrian Colbert.

 

Taumoepenu seems to be the leading candidate to change that in training camp, if he can make some noise as a pass rusher it would be a significant boost to a group likely relying on Aaron Lynch and veteran Elvis Dumervil off the edge.

 

Some hype

 

Third overall pick Solomon Thomas has been unable to practice in OTAs and minicamp but will still enter his first NFL training camp with his fair share of hype having received comparisons to Michael Bennett.

 

Ahkello Witherspoon has received some first-team snaps at cornerback and was praised by Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee for the fluidity he has displayed to this point.

 

C.J. Beathard was considered by many to be an underwhelming pick at quarterback in the third round. However, after being praised by Kyle Shanahan for how he processes the game, has also earned the plaudits of quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello.

 

Scangarello told Cam Inman on the Bay Area News Group: "He's done a nice job. Everything we possibly could have asked of the guy, he's embraced it. He definitely has a confidence that comes from within ... in a very positive way."

 

LOTS of Hype

 

Reuben Foster has been limited to individual work as he recovers from a shoulder injury, but that has not stopped him from being the subject of widespread praise.

 

Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen labelled him the "best football player I've been around", per AL.com, while 49ers linebackers coach Johnny Holland described Foster as one of the best inside linebackers to have come out of college football in the last 10 years.

 

That Foster, widely considered one of the best players in the 2017 draft, is receiving such admiration should not be a surprise.

 

But San Francisco's mid-round selections are also being tipped to succeed.

 

NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco told the Taylor Price Talk Podcast that he believes fourth-round pick Joe Williams will eventually take over Carlos Hyde as the starting running-back.

 

Comparisons to Wes Welker persist for fifth-round pick Trent Taylor, with NFL.com's Chris Wesseling pondering whether the former Louisiana Tech star can emulate the player considered the best slot receiver of all time.

 

However, the player who has drawn the most effusive praise in the offseason has been fifth-round tight end George Kittle, who has seemingly quickly become one of Brian Hoyer's favorite targets.

 

Recently speaking to KNBR, general manager John Lynch said of Kittle: "He's got some suddenness to him in his movements. He catches the ball extremely well. I think George gives us something we don't have in a playmaker, like down near the red zone, where you've got a one-on-one matchup."

 

Lynch was keen to stress that you can never read too much into OTAs and, at this point, all the noise surrounding the rookie class is just that, noise.

 

But if the levels of hype the likes of Foster and Kittle are receiving at the moment proves justified, the 49ers will be considerably better on both sides of the ball in 2017.

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