ESPN Mel Kiper graded each of the 32 NFL teams just days after the 2014 draft ended and while he initially gave the San Francisco 49ers an A for their selections, he followed up on that grade at seasons-end. Below is his new draft grade based on the 2014 season and the production of the 49ers rookies with a full analysis.
Post-draft grade: A
Summary: I really thought this was a fantastic draft at the time, and while I still really like it, the issues are that we don’t know if they have a starting wide receiver out of this class, and that’s a position of need. While they got contributions in several places from this group, it was a disappointing season for the 49ers measured against their expectations.
I liked the addition of safety Jimmie Ward, and while it was going to be a tough transition for him, he’s a versatile player and will be a key player in the secondary next season. Unfortunately, he finished the season on the shelf with an injury. Running back Carlos Hyde was, in my opinion, the top runner in the draft, and given the reps, I think he can prove that in the future. The explosiveness is obvious. Center Marcus Martin was just OK when he played but figures to be a starter going forward. Linebacker Aaron Lynch looks like an absolute steal, a worthy bet in Round 5 by GM Trent Baalke. We started to see the first-round pick we suspected he’d become when he played at Notre Dame as a freshman. I was a big Bruce Ellington fan and liked that pick, but the jury is still out on the receiver/returner.
The great get here is linebacker Chris Borland, so far one of the steals of the entire draft. Highly instinctive and productive at Wisconsin, his football smarts were immediately apparent when he was called upon, and he figures to be a big part of the plans next season. Another name to keep an eye on is Brandon Thomas, a really talented and versatile offensive lineman who could emerge after sitting out the year recovering from an injury he suffered during the draft process. This is another good draft that gets dinged slightly because the team took a step back, particularly on offense.
New grade: B+