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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Daniel Jeremiah on why the 49ers are so successful in later rounds of the draft

Apr 20, 2023 at 1:36 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers have had their share of draft whiffs during the John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan era. However, they've also found some key contributors, specifically in later rounds. Names like George Kittle, Fred Warner, Dre Greenlaw, Talanoa Hufanga, and, most recently, Brock Purdy come to mind.

NFL Media draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah spoke with reporters on Thursday, answering questions about next week's draft. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle asked about the Niners' success in acquiring talent on days two and three of the draft, naming the players above as recent success stories.

"Well, it's interesting when you list all those names off in a row," Jeremiah said. "To me, I think there's some continuity there. You're talking about guys that are incredibly football-smart, and they're incredibly passionate. They were leaders at the places that they played. In other words, what I'm getting to is I think they've figured out the makeup part of this whole thing. They have found it."

In 2021, the 49ers made Hufanga a fifth-round draft pick out of USC. The safety has become a key contributor on defense, earning first-team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors for his efforts this past season.

"Hufanga, they raved about him at USC," Jeremiah said. "He walked into that program and was a leader. He was incredibly productive. He just didn't run fast. So they were able to see past some of that stuff and see guys that are really, really smart, tough, and instinctive football players and plug them in.

"Obviously, you get more athleticism with some of the other guys you mentioned, but all those guys off the field, like, work ethic, intangibles, like elite, elite, elite, elite."

Jeremiah clearly has a ton of respect for the job Lynch, the 49ers' general manager, and his staff have done in building the team's roster, one that has reached the NFC Championship Game in three of the last four seasons.

"Sometimes this thing is not evaluating these guys as players," Jeremiah said. "It's evaluating them as people and competitors and all that. I've got to believe it helps having John there as somebody who kind of epitomizes what you would want in a football player. He knows what it looks like.

"With him and [assistant general manager] Adam Peters, who I think is as good as anybody in the league at evaluating players, they've got a great personnel department. Kyle has a really good idea of what he wants at every position. So when you get a coaching staff that gives you a good menu, and you get guys that know how to go find it, you get a lot of success."

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