What can we expect from the 49ers’ rookie class against the Bears? – Sentinel of Santa Cruz
SANTA CLARA — Partly because of last season’s draft trade of Trey Lance, the 49ers didn’t have a draft pick until the second round in 2021.
Still, chances are the 49ers rookies will have a more immediate impact than they did a year ago.
Three players – guard Spencer Burford, nickel back Samuel Womack III and defensive end Drake Jackson – are expected to play a starring role. With coach Kyle Shanahan being tight-lipped on playing time matters, it remains to be seen which other rookies will have a chance to make an impact on Sunday when the 49er visit the Chicago Bears in their opener. of the regular season.
A year ago, when the 49ers opened with a 41-33 road win over the Detroit Lions, sixth-round rookie pick Elijah Mitchell had 104 yards on 19 carries, fifth-round corner Deommodore Lenoir started and played 90 snaps and Lance played four snaps. in a cameo role behind starter Jimmy Garoppolo. Lance even opened the scoring with a 5-yard touchdown pass to Trent Sherfield in the first quarter.
A preview of what to expect from the Class of 2022:
Round 2, 61st overall: DE Drake Jackson, USC
Listed behind Samson Ebukam on the left end, but Jackson showed both a strong passing rush and a good closing flurry against the run in preseason and training camp. In tandem with Nick Bosa, the 49ers could have a double terror on the edge.
“One of the things I prayed for on draft day was to land in a place with the right role for me, and I landed there,” Jackson said. “With Nick Bosa and all the guys teaching me, I just landed in the right place.”
Round 3/93: RB Ty Davis-Price, LSU
It’s a toss-up whether Davis-Price is active or not, with Mitchell and Jeff Wilson Jr. expected to play. Also available is undrafted rookie Jordan (JP) Mason from Georgia Tech. The rookie who displays the best pass-blocking skills and has some utility on special teams will likely fit.
Round 3/105: WR Danny Gray, SMU
Gray’s speed should be a factor at some point this season, but maybe not in Week 1. Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, Jauan Jennings and Ray-Ray McCleod (the No. 1 return specialist) are ready from. It’s conceivable that coach Kyle Shanahan plays it conservatively with Lance in his first start, with Gray and his starting runs throughout the season.
Tower 4/134 RG Spencer Burford, TX-San Antonio
Burford opened training camp as a starter on the right side. He had a tough time, but it would be a surprise if he didn’t get the call against Chicago.
“You always want to have guys who’ve played multiple years and been in multiple Pro Bowls, but that’s how it starts for guys,” Shanahan said. “Burford was a very talented guy that we brought in as a rookie who did well in camp.”
Round 5/172: Samuel Womack III, Toledo
One of the surprises of training camp, Womack gets the first chance to replace the late K’Waun Williams. Although a little undersized at 5-foot-10, Womack showed a level of comfort in the lunge as well as some blitz ability, which was Williams’ strength. Midwest scout Ryan Kessenich was responsible for alerting the personnel department to Womack’s potential.
“Throughout the process we noticed his ball skills, his length,” general manager John Lynch said. “Something we really look at is a guy’s length relative to his height. And he’s like a 6-foot guy.
Round 6/187: G Nick Zakelj, Fordham
Zakelj could find himself inactive for Week 1 depending on the availability of veteran Daniel Brunskill. Depending on how good Burford is and 2021 second-round pick Aaron Banks, that could change.
Either way, according to Lynch, the 49ers’ long-term plan is to make Zakelj a center. He practiced the snap in training.
Round 6/220: DL Kalia Davis, Central Florida
Davis was a projection pick and will spend the season on injured reserve rehabilitating a torn ACL.
Round 6/221: CB Tariq Castro-Fields, Penn State
The only draft pick not to make the roster, Castro-Fields was claimed on the 53-man roster by the Washington Commodores and works as a nickelback.
Round 7/262: QB Brock Purdy, Iowa State
The 49ers don’t typically keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. When Garoppolo returned, Purdy, who would have been Nate Sudfeld’s replacement had that not materialized, became an exception.
“We like to keep two quarterbacks on the active roster because it allows us to do certain things elsewhere, but if you’ve got a guy like him, you don’t want to expose him,” Lynch said. “We love this piece the way it is built right now.”
Still, if Purdy is playing this season, something has gone very wrong.