With the San Francisco 49ers on the clock once again in the third-round (No. 79) they opted to remain on the defensive side of the ball and select Virginia OLB Eli Harold.
A true pass-rush specialist as Harold has the uncanny ability to sink his hips while dipping his inside shoulder, it’s his pass-rush and ability to get to the quarterback that had the 49ers coveting the Virginia product. Harold was projected to be a second-round pick but somehow fell to the 49ers, and as a result the team selected the best player available on their board.
The team already has a strong linebackers unit with OLB Aldon Smith, OLB Aaron Lynch and disgruntled OLB Ahmad Brooks, but with Smith yet to strike a long-term deal while Brooks’ future is still in doubt makes the selection of Harold a nice insurance policy.
At the NFL combine, Harold put up a 4.60 40-yard dash, 35-inch vertical, and 123-inch broad-jump. In addition to those numbers Harold also displayed his playing strength as he put up 24 reps on the bench press.
A surprise pick to Harold as he had no idea the 49ers were targeting him other than the allocated 15 minute combine interview, Harold was nonetheless happy to be going to San Francisco. “I had a meeting with them at the combine and up to that point, I never really had any contact with any of the coaches or scouts.”
So what does Harold think he will bring to the team? “I’m going to bring a lot of passion, toughness,” Harold said. “I feel like I’m a natural born leader.”
And with the 49ers possibly losing DE Justin Smith they can use a ‘natural born leader’ in the locker room.
With the 49ers continuing day three of the NFL draft it will be interesting to see the direction they go in as they have yet to address the offensive side.