The San Francisco 49ers come into the 2015 season after a meltdown offseason headed by the mutual parting of head coach Jim Harbaugh and owner Jed York. The once proud franchise has seen its window of opportunity for a Super Bowl appearance shut immediately and it does not look like it’s opening up anytime soon. Looking forward, the 49ers will begin to reload and address many of the holes they have on the current roster through the 2015 NFL Draft.
General Manager Trent Baalke had a decent 2014 draft class headed by defensive back Jimmie Ward, who made no contribution to the team last season. Baalke continues to draft linebackers who immediately produce, such as his pick of Chris Borland, who retired shortly after concerns of his future health. The two picks who look to be long-term 49ers were Carlos Hyde in the second round, and Aaron Lynch in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL draft.
This year’s draft needs to be a home run if the 49ers want to be competitive in arguably the toughest division in football. The 49ers have nine picks this year, with their biggest needs at the offensive line, inside line backer, defensive line, corner back and wide receiver.
No. 15 overall pick: Arik Armstead (DE, Oregon)
All signs point to the 49ers going defense with Armstead as their first pick. San Francisco is still awaiting to hear from Justin Smith on whether or not he will retire, but Armstead gives the 49ers a solid defensive end player on their defensive line to get to the quarterback.
No. 46 overall pick: Denzel Perryman (ILB, University of Miami)
Just over a year ago, the linebacker position was a position of strength for the 49ers. A brutal injury to NaVorro Bowman and a pair of retirements from Patrick Willis and Chris Borland now cast a cloud over the linebackers position. Perryman is a short linebacker in stature, but like Borland, plays with heart and has the speed to play in the zone or pass rush. Perryman would be a safe pick for the 49ers and one that gives them depth at the linebacker position.
79th overall pick: Rashad Green (WR, Florida State)
The 49ers addressed the wide receiver position with additions such as Torrey Smith, who will help, and Jerome Simpson, who is a mystery considering he has not played an NFL game in over a year. Green, who recorded back-to-back 1,000 yard receiving numbers in his last two years as a Seminole, is one who would give the 49ers wide receiver depth.
126th overall pick: Cam Thomas (CB, Western Kentucky)
The 49ers’ secondary has been dismantled with departures and at 6 foot 1 inch tall, Cam Thomas can guard almost any wide receiver with the exception of Calvin Johnson. With the loss of Chris Culliver and a secondary surrounded by questions, Thomas fills an immediate need.
132 overall pick: Chaz Green (OT, Florida)
Chaz Green gives the 49ers a versatile and athletic player for an offensive line that underperformed in the 2014 season. While at the University of Florida, Green was an 18-game starter for the Gators. A recent knee injury cast a cloud over Green, but his athleticism and long arms make him hard to overlook. With departures from Mike Iupati and a question mark of whether Joe Staley, Alex Boone, Anthony Davis and Marcus Martin will be able to protect Colin Kaepernick, Green will be able to fit in on both the left and right side, should an injury occur.
151 overall pick: John Miller (G, Louisville)
Miller would be a second offensive line pick in a row for the 49ers to add some more depth. The guard situation is a mess with departures, and Miller would give the 49ers a starter if needed, or an instant replacement for Joe Looney if he begins to struggle.
190 overall pick: Mycole Pruitt (TE, Southern Illinois)
Pruitt is a large tight end that gives the 49ers another option outside of Vernon Davis, who mightily underperformed last year while battling injuries and Vance McDonald, who was virtually invisible during his playing time. Pruitt is a three-time All-American and a four-year all-conference tight end. If the 49ers want to have any success, they need to go back to the Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker days with two blocking tight ends.
246 overall pick: Darren Waller (WR, Georgie Tech)
A 6 foot 6 inch tall wide receiver with a 4.5 40-yard dash is hard to pass up on in the seventh round. If the 49ers can somehow get Waller and develop him and improve his technique, they might have the steal of the draft. With all the talent in the world, Waller could be a perennial starter, but it will take a lot of work and effort from the 49ers coaching staff to get him there. For a seventh round pick, Waller is worth the risk.
254 overall pick: Marcus Murphy (RB, Missouri)
With Frank Gore gone, the 49ers now look to Carlos Hyde to carry the load in the backfield. Murphy will not receive much playing time with a crowded backfield, but going forward the 49ers could use him in future seasons. Murphy’s impact this year was felt in Missouri’s special teams unit. The 49ers have not had a good kick/punt returner since Ted Ginn. Murphy returned punts and kicks for the Tigers and could be in the same position to do so for the 49ers in the 2015 season.