Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
NinerNation21

2019 49ers' Rookie Class Review

Recommended Posts

Now that the regular season has concluded, I wanted to take a look our rookie class, my draft-day grades, and end-of-season grades. 

 

#1: Nick Bosa, EDGE

My Draft-Day Grade: A+
This pick was a no-brainer. He was the best player in the draft and has the potential to be an All-Pro player for many years.

Full-Season Grade: A+
Bosa is living up to the hype of being a complete game wrecker. He showed his talent all season and looks to be a perennial DPOY candidate for many seasons to come.

Where He Can Improve: Health was the biggest concern during the draft process. He showed he could handle a full season's worth of snaps with only minor bumps and bruises. Health is the biggest factor to realizing his full potential. As for on-field things, harnessing his burst and aggression of the snap is going to be really important. He almost always wins against any lineman he faces, but he sometimes goes so hard and fast that he washes himself out of the sack opportunity. The one silver lining to this is that he's been fantastic in pursuit after running by the QB. Also, not crashing down so hard to make a big play in the run game. He's been very susceptible to read-option plays and can get out of position. More film study and technique tweaks should help with this.  

 

#2: Deebo Samuel, Wide Receiver

My Draft-Day Grade: B+
While I really wanted A.J. Brown at this pick, Deebo was my second option. I thought both were complete receivers that would be playmakers. Everything I read during the draft process was that Deebo was electric with the ball but he was a little raw with his routes. I was excited to pair him with Pettis, our emerging #1 receiver (:S) coming off of the heels of Pettis' great finish to the 2018 season.

Full-Season Grade: A
Deebo exceeded all of my expectations. I could see from training camp that he was going to be a deadly weapon, but I couldn't have guessed he would be as prominent in the offense as he was this year. He was everything as billed and more. 

Where He Can Improve: The hands. If Deebo can eliminate the drops, he has the potential to be a very special WR. With that said, he really turned it on later in the season where we needed him the most, which is what you want to see from a leader. We know he loves contact and he's an ultra-aggressive WR, which means ball security and injuries could be an issue throughout his career. If Kittle could instill some of his wisdom and tricks of the trade, that would be fantastic. 

 

#3: Jalen Hurd, Wide Receiver

My Draft-Day Grade: C-
I was intrigued by Hurd, but thought he was overdrafted by at least 1-2 rounds. We left a ton of talent on the table with this pick. I wanted Riley Ridley, Terry McLauren, Chase Winovich, or Dawson Knox with this pick. After getting over my initial "WTF?" moment, I dove into the player and found plenty to like. The height, the versatility, the physicality, and the athletism definitely sparked my interest in him. He looked like a fun project that could provide big dividends.

Full-Season Grade: N/A
Training camp and pre-season action showed off some of his athletic ability and miss-match potential, but our old friend, the injury bug, claimed one of its first victims of the season pretty early on. With that said, I didn't really expect Hurd to make much noise this season. He's pretty raw and needed a redshirt season. This is my guess, but I have a feeling the back injury may not have been that bad, but it was used as an excuse to give him that redshirt season. 

Where He Can Improve: As I mentioned, Hurd is a pretty raw WR, so probably everywhere. It's hard to tell with him as we didn't get much of a read on Hurd.

 

#4: Mitch Wishnowsky, Punter

My Draft-Day Grade: F
The second "WTF?" moment of the draft. I hated this pick with a passion. I thought this was the most egregious waste of a draft pick I've seen in a while. Even if we were assured that Mitch would turn out to be a carbon-copy of Michael Dickson, I still wouldn't like the pick. I was even more frustrated with it because we passed on two of my mid-round draft crushes, Amani Hooker and Foster Moreau. After my initial frustration subsided, I started listening to the experts and started to like the player a little more, still hated the pick position. 

Full-Season Grade: C+
Mitch got crazy hype in training camp by beat reporters and players almost daily. I was excited to hear about the booming leg and the insane hang times he was getting. It sounded like we may have a real field-position weapon on our hands. As the regular season went along, I feel like some of the shine wore off. I didn't see the booming leg as much and the hang times seemed pretty average. From what I gathered, an average hang time is around 4 seconds. Mitch was being clocked at 5-6 seconds in training camp. I couldn't find any hangtime stats, but the eye test tells me he was probably around the average time. I thought Mitch was a pretty average punter this year, but his In-the-20% was 7th in the NFL at 44.2%, and his TB% was 9th lowest at 3.8%. Statistically, he was well above-average. Does that warrant a 4th-round selection? I don't know. The draft value and the snap holding issues brought his grade down a bit for me. 

Where He Can Improve: Half-way through the season, I would've said snap holding, but he seemed to clean those issues up. I'd like to see the training camp hangtimes translate to live games in 2020. I don't know if he will become the cult-classic, Andy Lee, but Mitch looks like an above-average punter, which is fine.

 

#5: Dre Greenlaw, Linebacker

My Draft-Day Grade: B
I'll admit, I didn't know anything about Greenlaw when we selected him and could take or leave the pick. after looking into him, I started to like him more. A pass-coverage LB with speed and range like a safety, sign me up for that all day long. As the draft went on, I started to like Greenlaw a lot more and thought he was a good value pick with immediate playing time potential, albeit special teams. 

Full-Season Grade: A-
To me, Greenlaw ended up being the most pleasant surprise from this rookie class. From day one in training camp, he was making plays. But, for every 3 positive plays he made, he would make one big mistake. I thought in pre-season, we have a serious future contributor in him. I really didn't expect him to make much impact this year. As fate would have it, Greenlaw was an extremely important player this year. When Alexander went down, I thought Greenlaw would flash a little, but get caught up in rookie mistakes/big-game pressure and be a liability on the field. This was true to an extent, but his positive play far outweighed his negatives. He made, arguably, two of the biggest plays of the season. Both against the Seahawks :x. His OT INT of Wilson and the "Clinch by an Inch" were heart attack-worthy plays. I gave Greenlaw an A- for the year because of the situational context. We lost Alexander to a long-term injury right before facing a historically-difficult stretch of games and Greenlaw assumed the position and filled in quite well. For a 5th-round rookie that was viewed as a special teams-only player, I'd say we got a good one. According to PFF, Greenlaw finished the year in the top 10 of LBs with the lowest passer rating against (10th). Greenlaw should eventually push for a full-time starting role, but in the meantime, he will be exceptional depth/spot starter.

Where He Can Improve: His biggest knocks during the draft process were lack of functional strength, poor run stopping, and lack of football IQ. I'd argue with some of these now, but the run support could use work. His tackling wasn't always sure-handed, either. For me, if he can improve knowledge of the defense and slow the game down more, we could have Fred Warner 2.0. That would be amazing value from a 5th-round pick. 

 

#6: Kaden Smith, Tight End

My Draft-Day Grade: C
I really wanted a TE in the draft and was frustrated to see all of my crushes fly off the board. When we finally drafted Smith, I thought "Ok, he's a TE from Stanford, so he must be a decent blocker and average receiver?" He wasn't the TE I wanted, but I didn't hate the pick, especially with it being a 6th rounder.

Full-Season Grade: N/A
I hated that we released him while keeping Beathard on the roster. It's hard for me to give a realistic grade on his season with him playing for the Giants, but he did finish the year as the 4th most targeted player for the Giants with 31 catches, 268 yards, and 3 TDs. Not a bad rookie year. 

Where He Can Improve: Again, hard to say, but he looked to me like a high-end 3rd TE to a low-end 2nd TE.

 

#6.2: Justin Skule, Offensive Tackle

My Draft-Day Grade: C
Like the Smith pick earlier in the round, I liked the pick but didn't love it. I wanted a guard in the draft but we selected a tackle. Skule was billed as a pretty decent pass blocker coming out of college who started a ton, which was a big positive for me. It was hard to get excited about this pick, so it was kind of a take-it-or-leave-it pick for me.

Full-Season Grade: C+
Training camp and pre-season were pretty rough for Skule, which made me think he would be destined for the PS. All indications were that there was talent there but he needed lots of seasoning before stepping on the field in any meaningful capacity. Again, fate and injuries had other plans. I thought Skule was adequate for most of the season and filled in admirably for a 6th-round pick who wasn't supposed to see the light of day until 2020 at the earliest. PFF gave him a season grade of 62.3, which isn't too bad with all things considered.  

Where He Can Improve: His pass blocking definitely needs work. According to PFF, his pressure rate was 9.2% (4th worst for Tackles). I thought as the season wore on, he got worse. A full year in an NFL training regiment should help him with all facets of his game. If he can continue to improve, I think Skule can be a valuable swing tackle and spot starter. 

 

#6.3: Tim Harris, Cornerback

My Draft-Day Grade: C+
I liked this pick a lot. I'm a fan of grabbing athletes late in the draft and see what you can do with them. I've seen Harris quite a bit throughout college as a Virginia Tech fan, so I knew what kind of player he was. The injuries really hampered his draft stock and he fell because of it. I was excited to see him as a 49er.

Full-Season Grade: N/A
Unfortunately, the injury bug claimed its second rookie early in the year. I was hoping to see what he could do in training camp knowing he was most likely a stash player. I hope he can rebound from the injury and show some value in 2020. 

Where He Can Improve: Hard to say, but based on his play in college, refining technique is important for him. Especially when he got beat off the line as he liked to play press man. We played a lot of zone this year, so it will be interesting to see how he does with that.

 

UDFA: Azeez Al-Shaair, Linebacker

Signing Grade: A
I loved the signing of Al-Shaair. He was a supreme athlete who was all over the field making plays in college. The injuries were a bit of a concern, but the athletic profile was very alluring. With our recent successes with cultivating talent from the UDFA ranks, I was excited to see what we could do with him. Definitely a long-term project.

Full-Season Grade: C
Fate, you meddling jerk. Al-Shaair saw the field more than I thought he would, outside of special teams. He sometimes looked out of place, then he would make a pretty decent play. His play didn't stand out quite as much as Greenlaw's did, but I thought he looked ok for a UDFA that wasn't supposed to play early. I still like his long-term prospects and the athletism definitely showed up on tape. 

Where He Can Improve: The mental side of the game, for sure. Once the game slows down for him and truly understands what's happening in front of him, I think he could be a pretty good depth/rotational piece while being a special teams standout. 

 

Overall, I think we got exceptional value out of this draft class and it ended up looking much better than it did on paper back in April. I think we have a few quality starters, an All-Pro, and a star from this class. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I’d agree with much of that above. Just like to say that the entire draft intrigued me. I was a little “what? Another WR when Hurd was picked?” But got over it. If you don’t already know, I was ecstatic over our 1st pick...after all, he is the only rookie I have ever bought the jersey of....:D Like you, I too preferred AJ Brown, but liked Deebo as well. I loved the Wish pick from the moment it was made. Greenlaw and Kaden Smith as well (so disappointed he is not with us...thought that was a bad idea. :( ). 
 

Hope to have another good depth draft after Shanahan brings home Lombardi #6! B|
Prefer to include some IOL prospect(s).

Edited by Chrissooner49er

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, NinerNation21 said:

Mitch got crazy hype in training camp by beat reporters and players almost daily. I was excited to hear about the booming leg and the insane hang times he was getting. It sounded like we may have a real field-position weapon on our hands. As the regular season went along, I feel like some of the shine wore off. I didn't see the booming leg as much and the hang times seemed pretty average. From what I gathered, an average hang time is around 4 seconds. Mitch was being clocked at 5-6 seconds in training camp. I couldn't find any hangtime stats, but the eye test tells me he was probably around the average time. I thought Mitch was a pretty average punter this year, but his In-the-20% was 7th in the NFL at 44.2%, and his TB% was 9th lowest at 3.8%. Statistically, he was well above-average. Does that warrant a 4th-round selection? I don't know. The draft value and the snap holding issues brought his grade down a bit for me. 

Punting is something that is almost impossible to grade on TV. You can't see the flight of the ball or the spin. So I think I can give some insight for you that you might not get elsewhere

All the talk was about the different types of punts he had. It was about how he is going to force muffs and also get good bounces because he was able to manipulate spin in ways other punters don't 

Mitch wish has been good. Not great, but good. He hasnt been trying to boom the ball as far as he can. He rarely kicks the ball in a spiral (how most punters in the NFL do it because the ball flies true) he usually kicks it with some funky spin and the ball is knuckling in the air a little bit. He is trying to get the other team to muff it rather than put them back another 5-10 yards. That effects the hangtime etc and it doesn't make it look like he has the biggest leg all the time. 

He has had a few booming punts where he kicks it with a true spiral and the leg talent has shown. 

I also love how accurate he is when kicking to our gunners. Seems like he passes the ball to them with his foot on the 5 yard line. 

I hated pinion. He was so inconsistent. Big leg but he wouldn't connect all the time. I feel the opposite with Mitchwish. He's been executing his plan well. His plan isn't to get the most hangtime or the longest punt, it's to make it really hard for the returner to field it cleanly. So, unless you can see that, I can understand why you are lukewarm with him. It doesn't look like he's doing well on paper, but that doesn't appear to be his goal 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
43 minutes ago, N4L said:

Punting is something that is almost impossible to grade on TV. You can't see the flight of the ball or the spin. So I think I can give some insight for you that you might not get elsewhere

All the talk was about the different types of punts he had. It was about how he is going to force muffs and also get good bounces because he was able to manipulate spin in ways other punters don't 

Mitch wish has been good. Not great, but good. He hasnt been trying to boom the ball as far as he can. He rarely kicks the ball in a spiral (how most punters in the NFL do it because the ball flies true) he usually kicks it with some funky spin and the ball is knuckling in the air a little bit. He is trying to get the other team to muff it rather than put them back another 5-10 yards. That effects the hangtime etc and it doesn't make it look like he has the biggest leg all the time. 

He has had a few booming punts where he kicks it with a true spiral and the leg talent has shown. 

I also love how accurate he is when kicking to our gunners. Seems like he passes the ball to them with his foot on the 5 yard line. 

I hated pinion. He was so inconsistent. Big leg but he wouldn't connect all the time. I feel the opposite with Mitchwish. He's been executing his plan well. His plan isn't to get the most hangtime or the longest punt, it's to make it really hard for the returner to field it cleanly. So, unless you can see that, I can understand why you are lukewarm with him. It doesn't look like he's doing well on paper, but that doesn't appear to be his goal 

How many muffed punts has he caused this year?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, straighthate said:

How many muffed punts has he caused this year?

Maybe one? I don’t recall many. 
 

Of his 52 punts, 23 were returned for 131 yards at an average return of 5.7 yards a return. That’s the 6th lowest return average. Our gunners had A LOT to do with that as well, specifically Mostert. 
 

For me, the eye test says he looked average, but on paper, he was well above average in just about every stat category. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My point exactly. All the talk about the spin and all that and I don’t remember a single muffed punt. 
 

Didn’t love the pick at all, but it grew on me. I also recognize that even a punter needs to be coached and improve over time. He’s a rookie. I think he’ll be exceptional. But saying the reason he doesn’t boom em like he could is because he puts spin on them that causes muffed punts is not accurate. If it is accurate, he should give that up cuz it’s not working. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, straighthate said:

How many muffed punts has he caused this year?

2 I believe but we haven't recovered either. Both at home if I remember correctly. Levi's is known for the swirling winds as well btw so funky spin plus swirling winds can make it hard on returners 

1 hour ago, straighthate said:

My point exactly. All the talk about the spin and all that and I don’t remember a single muffed punt. 
 

Didn’t love the pick at all, but it grew on me. I also recognize that even a punter needs to be coached and improve over time. He’s a rookie. I think he’ll be exceptional. But saying the reason he doesn’t boom em like he could is because he puts spin on them that causes muffed punts is not accurate. If it is accurate, he should give that up cuz it’s not working. 

What I am saying is accurate. Mitchwish has hit the ball a few different ways to create unique spin. His intent is that the other team muffs it. Just because they haven't muffed as many as we would hope for, doesn't mean that's not the strategy he is trying to impliment. This is the NFL, punt returners are typically well coached and we'll practiced. It's not like muffs happen all that frequently in the first place. 

I've seen him hit the ball in a way that it spins horizontally like a boomerang would fly. I've seen variations of that while spinning in different directions. Some of them have looked funky I've also seen him hit a traditional punt in a spiral. All we heard about him was that he had a big leg and a big tool bag. The only way to really appreciate the tool bag is by seeing it in person. The flight of the ball is hardly shown on TV so all you have to quantify a punt is distance and hangtime. That's not always enough to paint an accurate picture. 

 

BB started a trend a few years ago of getting lefty punters because the ball spins the other way. he is hoping that small change will make the other team muff it. That's just opposite spin while the ball is in a spiral, not even the funky spin that Mitchwish is using. So obviously there is some reasoning to it. Belichick doesn't mess around with his special teams lol 

 

Also, since we are talking punters, the saints punt returner deonte Harris is unreal. That guy absolutely flies and seems like he's good for 2 20+ yard returns a week. Elite elite elite lateral quickness and vision. I will say that he hasn't shown any indications of being unreliable or misplaying the ball. He also plays in a dome and that makes the ball easier to track in the air. Perhaps with a little weather/swirling wind plus a funky punt could bounce in our favor. He's a small guy which means his margin for error while catching the ball is smaller. Just a thought 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, NinerNation21 said:

Maybe one? I don’t recall many. 
 

Of his 52 punts, 23 were returned for 131 yards at an average return of 5.7 yards a return. That’s the 6th lowest return average. Our gunners had A LOT to do with that as well, specifically Mostert. 
 

For me, the eye test says he looked average, but on paper, he was well above average in just about every stat category. 

Part of punting is working in unison with your gunners. 

I brought up pinion in the earlier post because he was super inconsistent. Some punts would fly far and others wouldn't. That makes it hard on your gunners because they have no clue where the ball is going. 

Seems like Mitchwish hits it roughly where he wants it to go most of the time. So that plays into the short return yardage stats. As Saleh would say "it all ties together". 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, N4L said:

2 I believe but we haven't recovered either. Both at home if I remember correctly. Levi's is known for the swirling winds as well btw so funky spin plus swirling winds can make it hard on returners 

What I am saying is accurate. Mitchwish has hit the ball a few different ways to create unique spin. His intent is that the other team muffs it. Just because they haven't muffed as many as we would hope for, doesn't mean that's not the strategy he is trying to impliment. This is the NFL, punt returners are typically well coached and we'll practiced. It's not like muffs happen all that frequently in the first place. 

I've seen him hit the ball in a way that it spins horizontally like a boomerang would fly. I've seen variations of that while spinning in different directions. Some of them have looked funky I've also seen him hit a traditional punt in a spiral. All we heard about him was that he had a big leg and a big tool bag. The only way to really appreciate the tool bag is by seeing it in person. The flight of the ball is hardly shown on TV so all you have to quantify a punt is distance and hangtime. That's not always enough to paint an accurate picture. 

 

BB started a trend a few years ago of getting lefty punters because the ball spins the other way. he is hoping that small change will make the other team muff it. That's just opposite spin while the ball is in a spiral, not even the funky spin that Mitchwish is using. So obviously there is some reasoning to it. Belichick doesn't mess around with his special teams lol 

I’m not saying you’re wrong about the intent. I’m saying it’s not working. If the guy could have 5 or 6 second hang time and is only 4 seconds because he’s working on the spin, then it’s the wrong strategy. I’d take the extra second or two if he’s not good enough with the spin to get a single turnover off his punts this year. 
 

Like I said, I think he’ll be great. I like him and am happy he’s on the team. I just don’t think we can say he could be booming them but he’s not because he’s putting a spin on them for the sake of turnovers, yet we haven’t had one yet.  I can’t remember even a muffed punt but that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been a couple. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, straighthate said:

I’m not saying you’re wrong about the intent. I’m saying it’s not working. If the guy could have 5 or 6 second hang time and is only 4 seconds because he’s working on the spin, then it’s the wrong strategy. I’d take the extra second or two if he’s not good enough with the spin to get a single turnover off his punts this year. 

I think it depends on the situation. Sometimes you want to flip the field. Other times you might want to sacrifice 15 yards for the off chance of a turnover. 

Imagine how good it's going to feel when we recover a muff over the next 3 games. Takeaways are so important, especially when they happen on the other teams < 30. They can completely flip a game on its head, as we saw in 2011 the nfccg

I have no issues with mitchwish deciding to use different types of punts in different situations as long he executes his plan. Definitely room for improvement though 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Weird how fast this thread turned into a Wishnowsky thread.

I think the lack of elite stats comes from our offense actually moving the ball more than we have in recent years. You can't kick it 70 yards when you're at the 45 (either one). We had the top punt coverage in the league up until we faced the Saints (and I don't know after that). I'd say Mitch has been good. Usually, the best statistical punters are on bad teams. We were a good team. The punter in our situation becomes a lot more situational, rather than a field position weapon. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, rudyZ said:

Weird how fast this thread turned into a Wishnowsky thread.

I think the lack of elite stats comes from our offense actually moving the ball more than we have in recent years. You can't kick it 70 yards when you're at the 45 (either one). We had the top punt coverage in the league up until we faced the Saints (and I don't know after that). I'd say Mitch has been good. Usually, the best statistical punters are on bad teams. We were a good team. The punter in our situation becomes a lot more situational, rather than a field position weapon. 

Damn you Jimmy G and your hatred of three and outs!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IIRC, at one point in the season we led the league in return yards allowed. But I think that changed as the season went on. Mitch was fine, but I noticed he was implementing a bunch of angle punts and wasn't focused on hang time. I'm guessing that was by design from the coaching staff, but would like that to change a bit in spots. One thing I really liked was that he often times WOULD pin a team inside the 15 yard line opposed to just kicking it to the end zone. 

Now, big question is will we continue using Mostert as a gunner? He's great at it but also our #1 back now. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, J-ALL-DAY said:

IIRC, at one point in the season we led the league in return yards allowed. But I think that changed as the season went on. Mitch was fine, but I noticed he was implementing a bunch of angle punts and wasn't focused on hang time. I'm guessing that was by design from the coaching staff, but would like that to change a bit in spots. One thing I really liked was that he often times WOULD pin a team inside the 15 yard line opposed to just kicking it to the end zone. 

Now, big question is will we continue using Mostert as a gunner? He's great at it but also our #1 back now. 

I think Mostert would still be a gunner unless he's named the starter to the point that Breida/Coleman will get few carries by design as a permanent plan. Right now, there's an injury risk definitely, but he's still not playing a huge number of snaps. They find roles for the other backs (for better or for worse). And I think the team would be comfortable enough to risk Mostert's offensive touches for the added benefits of his superb Special Teams work. At this point, it's all about winning games so you need the best guys in their regular roles. 

That said, Harris might not have been a great safety, but he was looking great on Special Teams for a while before Tartt got injured. So the Special Teams unit is getting a notable boost elsewhere now that Tartt looks very likely to return next Saturday. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  



×