Round 1, No. 2 overall: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
My take: From a pure value standpoint, this move makes sense for the Niners as Bosa is widely considered no worse than the second-best player in the draft. But for as much as this is about adding a top player, it's also about establishing who the 49ers want to be as a defense and a team. This offseason has been all about supercharging the pass rush. With the additions of Dee Ford and now Bosa, the Niners believe they have done it. If they're right, one of their biggest weaknesses should become their biggest strength, and there will be a ripple effect that makes the whole team better and more capable of finishing their closest games with wins rather than losses.
An easy fit: One of the issues the Niners have had with previous top picks on the defensive line is that it has been hard to peg where they fit in the team's scheme. That's not the case here. In fact, one need only look about six hours south to the Los Angeles Chargers to see how Bosa fits in the defense. The Chargers run a scheme that's essentially the same as the Niners' and deploy Nick's brother Joey as the "big" end opposite the speedy Melvin Ingram in the "Leo" role. For the Niners, simply substitute Nick Bosa for Joey Bosa and Ford for Ingram and you have an idea of what the Niners are hoping to get from their new outside tandem. Of course, it's now a matter of producing.
Clearing up congestion on the D-line: Bosa is the fourth defensive lineman the Niners have used their top pick on in the past five years. Part of the reason the Niners drafted him and went after Ford was because the previous ones haven't all panned out. DeForest Buckner is locked in at the three-technique defensive tackle, but Arik Armstead is entering the final year of his deal, and Solomon Thomas has struggled to find his footing in his first two seasons. Could Armstead or Thomas be on the move? While Thomas and Armstead would be highly-paid backups, Niners general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday there was no truth to rumors that Thomas was on the trade block and that both are in the plans moving forward. The Niners’ plan, for now, is to use that duo all over the line as complements to Ford, Bosa and Buckner.
Round 2, No. 36 overall: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
My take: One of the worst-kept secrets in this draft was the Niners' desire to bolster their receiving corps, and their affinity for Samuel wasn't exactly hidden well after working with him at the Senior Bowl. Samuel has the route-running ability to separate consistently, which coach Kyle Shanahan covets, and is adept at breaking tackles for yards after the catch. Samuel can also contribute in the slot and the return game. The biggest concern with Samuel is durability, as he's missed time because of a broken fibula, hamstring issues and a foot problem. He had his best season last year when he was finally healthy for a full season. If he can stay on the field, he should have a chance to compete for a starting job at 'Z' receiver and contribute right away for the Niners.
Round 3, No. 67 overall: Jalen Hurd, WR, Baylor
My take: Niners fans have been clamoring for a big receiver for awhile now and Hurd undoubtedly fits the bill at 6-foot-5, 226 pounds. But coach Kyle Shanahan didn't draft Hurd simply because of his size. To play wideout for Shanahan, you must have separation skills, and the Niners clearly believe Hurd has the potential to do that consistently. The Niners are also intrigued by Hurd's versatility and view him as someone who could even play tight end in certain matchups. Hurd has had some injury issues, with a pair of shoulder problems, a knee ailment and a concussion. He's also pretty raw as a receiver after spending time playing running back at Tennessee before transferring to Baylor. In drafting Hurd and Samuel on day 2, the Niners followed through on their desire to bolster the receiving corps. There's room for both Samuel and Hurd to contribute right away, but Hurd will likely take longer to find his footing.
Round 4, No. 110 overall: Mitch Wishnowsky, P, Utah
My take: The departure of Bradley Pinion in free agency created a void for the Niners at punter and they clearly put an emphasis on finding the best available in this draft. To that end, they made Wishnowsky the first punter selected in this draft. Wishnowsky was widely considered the best punter in the draft, but this feels like it's a little bit of a luxury for a team that has needs in the secondary. Wishnowsky also has the ability to handle kickoffs, though it's not something he was asked to do much of at Utah. This pick fills a need but it's fair to wonder if the Niners could have waited to address it a little later.
Round 5, No. 148 overall: Dee Greenlaw, LB, Arkansas
My take: Greenlaw projects as depth at the Niners' two stack linebacker spots but should have a chance to compete for a role on special teams right away. Greenlaw is on the small side and had some injury issues but if he can stay healthy, he should have a chance to win a roster spot.
Round 6, No. 176 overall: Kaden Smith, TE, Stanford
My take: The Niners didn't have to go far to find another tight end to pad their depth at the position behind George Kittle. Smith isn't a great athlete but he's a decent blocker and should have a chance to compete for a roster spot with the likes of Ross Dwelley and Garrett Celek. If Smith can get stronger, he could provide solid run blocking and if he can add some special-teams value, that would be worthwhile at this stage of the draft.
Round 6, No. 183 overall: Justin Skule, OT, Vanderbilt
My take: Skule was a solid two-year starter at left tackle for the Commodores after starting all 13 games as a sophomore on the right side. That experience playing both sides should serve him well as he competes for a roster spot in training camp. The Niners released swing tackle Garry Gilliam in the offseason and have a need for a backup tackle for Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. Shon Coleman is the favorite for that spot, but Skule should at least be in the mix. He will need to prove he can hold up in pass protection in order to have a realistic shot at winning a job on the active roster.
Round 6, No. 198 overall: Tim Harris, CB, Virginia
My take: After a much longer wait than anticipated, the 49ers finally added another body to their secondary, albeit with their last scheduled pick in the draft. At 6-2, Harris has the size the Niners covet in their corners, but he also comes with a lengthy injury history. That includes labrum and wrist issues that resulted in two medical redshirts. The 49ers could use the depth at corner behind Richard Sherman and there's room to win a roster spot, but Harris will have an uphill climb and needs to excel on special teams to make it happen.