A massive roster purge at the onset of the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch era resulted in significant playing time for the younger players brought in to replace those from the previous regime. This year's draft class includes tackle Mike McGlinchey, wide receiver Dante Pettis, linebacker Fred Warner, and defensive back D.J. Reed, all of whom have seen their share of the field this season.

Even safety Marcell Harris, a sixth-round pick who wasn't activated until last month, has been in on the action of late. What does Lynch think of this year's class? The San Francisco 49ers general manager joined KNBR on Thursday and answered that question.

"I love it, but I'm going to hold off judgment because people thought I was pretty smart on last year's draft class," Lynch said while laughing on the "Tolbert & Lund" show.

The grades on last year's draft class took a hit with the whole Reuben Foster situation, but players like tight end George Kittle and cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon continue to contribute. Wide receiver Trent Taylor and safety Adrian Colbert, two late-round selections, saw significant roles as rookies, but injuries have impacted their sophomore campaigns.

"We're very encouraged with the way it's going (with this year's class)," Lynch continued. "All those guys are contributing and contributing in a big way."

Pettis was working through an injury throughout much of the season. Lynch and company were patient through his recovery. Now, Pettis is healthy and getting his opportunity to gain experience while continuing to learn from his mistakes — like not going out of bounds and stopping the clock toward the end of a game.

"Fred Warner's played all year," Lynch said while continuing to go down the list. "One guy you didn't mention is Tarvarius Moore. He was our special team player of the week this week. He's close to getting out there at corner, and we think he's going to be a really good corner."

Lynch's best draft pick may have been the once-unknown Kittle, whom the 49ers selected in the fifth round last year. He wasn't well known because he didn't see a lot of targets at Iowa.

Lynch explained how the 49ers found Kittle, who now holds the franchise record for receiving yards by a tight end in a single season and has three more games to add to it.

"Remember, we needed quarterbacks so when we started (evaluating players), we identified C.J. (Beathard) early on," Lynch shared. "In the process, we had seen George. But really watching C.J. a lot, they didn't throw a whole lot. When they did, George was one of the guys out there [...] The more you watched him, you start realizing he's running away from a guy who's supposed to run a 4.3."

Since Iowa ran the football a lot, the 49ers knew Kittle could handle the task of blocking.

Lynch continued, "We joke about that fifth round with he and Trent Taylor because those were guys we really liked but said, 'You know what? Let's not take them here. Let's hold on because we think they're both going to be there.' And sure enough, they were."

As for McGlinchey, the young tackle had the task of going against Von Miller on Sunday. That's a lot to ask of a veteran offensive lineman, much less a rookie.

"I was a little nervous when he was talking about being excited to play against Von Miller," Lynch said. "'Be careful buddy. This guy is different.' You know what? He held his own. He really played well.

"I think you've got to be pretty courageous to -- it's one thing to feel it, but to go say it in the papers, I was ready to go say, 'Hold on buddy.' But he did, and he really played well. I commend him for that."

You can listen to the entire conversation with Lynch below.