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ESPN’s Fowler on why two 49ers draft picks deviate from the norm

May 12, 2021 at 6:55 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers' selection of guard Aaron Ranks in the second round took many by surprise. Maybe not the Atlanta Falcons, though. The former Notre Dame offensive lineman was selected ahead of where most figured he would go. Many figured the Niners would select the best available cornerback with their second-round pick.

Also, Banks is bigger than the offensive linemen that San Francisco typically targets.

Jeremy Fowler broke down some "key intel" on all 32 NFL teams in a feature for ESPN. He had the following to say about the 49ers' selection of Banks.

"The selection of second-round guard Aaron Banks was a push for size and force up front," wrote Fowler. "That he's 330 pounds isn't lost on San Francisco, which usually opts for quicker guards at 300 to 315 pounds. But San Francisco seems to covet power players such as Banks to help create a firmer passing pocket, figuring undersized guards are always easy to find if they need more."

Another deviation from the norm was the selection of Ohio State running back Trey Sermon in the third round. It was the highest spot the 49ers drafted a running back since selecting Carlos Hyde in the second round in 2014.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan tends to prefer fast running backs who can make things difficult for slower defenders. While Sermon is not slow by any account, he is slower than those who have been the featured back in Shanahan's 49ers offense.

"Third-round running back Trey Sermon (4.57 in the 40-yard dash) is slower than the 49ers' usual targets, but San Francisco likes his vision and ability to run through arm tackles," wrote Fowler.

By comparison, Raheem Mostert ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash at Purdue's Pro Day in 2015. Mostert recorded the two fastest runs among NFL ball-carriers during the 2020 season, per Next Gen Stats. He had an 80-yard touchdown against the New York Jets in Week 2 during which he was clocked at 23.09 MPH, and a 76-yard catch against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 1 that saw him reach 22.73 MPH.

Former 49ers running back Matt Breida was also fast, recording a 4.37-second 40-yard dash. Sermon's speed is more in line with Jeff Wilson Jr., who also had a 4.57-second 40-time at his pro day in 2018.

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