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Know Your Enemy: San Francisco 49ers, 2014 NFL Draft Rounds 2 & 3
With the Seahawks playing in football's most competitive division, we think it's pretty important to keep tabs on how the club's NFC West rivals operate in this year's NFL Draft.
The San Francisco 49ers got things started toward the end of the first round last night, taking Northern Illinois free safety Jimmie Ward at No. 30 overall. Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke said Ward posseses the type of cover skills that would also allow him to play as the team's nickel cornerback.
The Niners made more noise before the start of today's second round, trading an undisclosed 2015 draft choice to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for wide receiver Stevie Johnson, a 6-foot-2, 207-pound pass catcher who has racked up three 1,000-yard seasons since 2010. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Niners gave up a fourth-round pick to nab Johnson that could improve to a third-round pick based on Johnson's production this season.
Here's a look at what the 49ers did on day two of the League's annual event:
The Pick: RB Carlos Hyde, Round 2, No. 57 Overall
Who He Is: A 6-foot, 230-pound running back out of Ohio State. The third running back off the board in this year's draft, chosen three spots behind Washington's Bishop Sankey (No.54 overall) and LSU's Jeremy Hill (No. 55 overall).
NFL.com Analysis: "A big, strong, powerful, NFL feature back who carried the Buckeyes' offense as a senior and proved he can be a workhorse. Solid all-around, chunk runner well-built for the physicality of the AFC North."
What It Means: Hyde looks to be the heir apparent to veteran running back Frank Gore, who is entering the final year of his contract with the 49ers. Hyde joins a position group that also features last year's fourth-round pick Marcus Lattimore, who is on his way back from an ACL injury he suffered in 2012.
The Pick: C Marcus Martin, Round 3, No. 70 Overall
Who He Is: Offensive lineman out of USC who was the top-rated center on NFL analyst Mike Mayock's draft board and a first-team All-Pac-12 performer. Measures at 6-foot-3 and 320-pounds.
What He's Done: Captained the Trojans in 2013, starting all 13 games played at center.
NFL.com Analysis: "Outstanding-sized, barrel-chested finesse pivot with center-guard versatility. Grades out highly as a position-sustain blocker and possesses untappped strength and power in his body. Lacks desirable grit, toughness and finishing strength to maximize his talent and is stronger than he plays. Has instant-starter potential as a center or right guard, but could stand to benefit from some time to be groomed."
What It Means: For the only team that ran the football more than the Seahawks last season, Martin adds quality depth at multiple positions for the Niners. He should compete at center and guard in San Francisco and is talented enough to challenge center Daniel Kilgore for the starting job right out the gate.
The Pick: LB Chris Borland, Round 3, No. 77 Overall
Who He Is: 5-foot-11, 248-pound linebacker out of Wisconsin.
NFL.com Analysis: "Short, active, athletic, instinctive tackling machine who will have to overcome physical limitations to establish himself as a dependable, long-term starter, though he has immediate special-teams ability and the makeup to push for a more prominent role."
What It Means: With All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman coming off an ACL injury he suffered in January's NFC Championship game against the Seahawks, the pick looks to add insurance to the team's linebacking corps should Bowman's recovery not go according to plan.
The Pick: OL Brandon Thomas, Round 3, No. 100 Overall
Who He Is: A 6-foot-3, 317-pound offensive tackle out of Clemson.
What He's Done: Started 26 games at left tackle for the Tigers from 2012-13, tallying 98 knockdowns in his career.
NFL.com Analysis: "Strong-bodied, dependable gap blocker who played left tackle in college but will likely slide inside in the pros. Showed improvement as a senior and has the potential to be a long-term fixture at left guard. Ability to play tackle in a pinch adds to value."
What It Means: Much like the team's selection of running back Marcus Lattimore in last year's draft, Thomas is luxury pick for the Niners. He'll likely spend the season on the team's physically unable to perform (PUP) list as he recovers from an ACL injury he suffered while working out for the New Orleans Saints last month.
What's Next: As it stands, the 49ers hold five more picks on the draft's final day, selecting once in the fourth (No. 129 overall), once in the fifth (No. 170), and three times in the seventh (No. 242, No. 243 & No. 245).