Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports


Who Will be the Surprise Rookie MVP of this Year’s Draft Class?

Jun 21, 2018 at 8:44 PM



The sophomore season for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan should go much smoother than their first season. For one, they certainly won't be turning over the roster as much as last year. Last year was all about finding the right players to fit in Shanahan's scheme, which meant there were a lot of players from the old regimes who were either cut or not resigned. This lead to a lot of rookies--especially later round picks--getting an unusually early chance to see the field. In fact, the 49ers had a total of 17 rookies playing offense and defense throughout the 2017 season. And according to Pro Football Focus, 49er rookies combined for 5,033 snaps during the regular season--more than any other team in the league by far. In other words, the new kids got a chance to play. But which rookie from the 2017 draft class made the most out of those opportunities? My vote goes to Adrian Colbert.

One could argue that other rookies like first round picks Reuben Foster and Solomon Thomas had more of an impact simply because they started more games. But you expect that from first round (or at the very least early round) picks. It's safe to say that as general manager and head coach, you're not expecting your seventh round pick (number 229 overall) to change positions, be forced into the lineup after injuries to your starters, and play at a pro level. But not only did Colbert play well, he ended up playing so well that he supplanted former first round pick Jimmie Ward as the starting free safety this year without even as much as a single camp battle. I'd say he made the most out of his opportunities.

So who will be the Adrian Colbert of 2018? Which rookie has the biggest chance to step in and perhaps surprise coaches and steal a roster spot from a veteran? With the depth chart mostly solidified, it's safe to say that not every rookie from this draft class is going have the same opportunities to start right away like last year's draft class. But then again, there's always that pesky injury bug that can strike. Colbert wasn't earmarked for safety right away, he took advantage of Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt both going down for the season with broken forearms. So who is in line to see a similar opportunity and take advantage of it this year? My guess is the third round pick out of BYU, Fred Warner.

First of all, when Warner was drafted, the 49ers weren't entirely sure how Reuben Foster's offseason legal issues were going to shake out, so we know Lynch and Shanahan thought highly enough of Warner to eye him as a possible early replacement for Foster. And so far, all indications suggest their instincts on Warner were right. His former coach at BYU, Shanahan, and defensive coordinator Robert Saleh have all commented on his speed, confidence, and smarts. At BYU, he played in a hybrid linebacker/safety role known as the "flash" position. All of which is to say, Warner is going to do pretty well at reading and reacting quickly to plays.

Helping Warner's chances of seeing the field early is the fact that the team's starting inside linebackers are no strangers to injury. Malcolm Smith missed all of last season with a torn pectoral muscle and Foster was frequently in and out of games with an array of ailments all season. Add to that, we know Foster most likely will see some sort of suspension from the league. In other words, Warner is going to get his chance to play. It's entirely possible Warner moves up ahead of Brock Coyle on the depth chart to become the first linebacker off the bench. And if he makes the most of those opportunities, don't be surprised to see the 49ers part ways with the high-priced veteran, Smith, at the end of the season and replace him with Warner.

After all, Colbert did it.

Poll

  • Who is this year's Adrian Colbert?
  • Fred Warner
    35%
  • Dante Pettis
    20%
  • Tarvarius Moore
    17%
  • Mike McGlinchey
    11%
  • Richie James
    7%
  • DJ Reed
    7%
  • Marcell Harris
    1%
  • Jullian Taylor
    1%
  • Kentavius Street (IR?)
    0%
  • 940 votes
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


0 Comments

  • No Comments

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Why analyst doubts 49ers QB Trey Lance's chances for Offensive Rookie of the Year

By David Bonilla
Jul 26, 2021

Right now, DraftKings has San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance tied with Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris for the third-best odds (+800) to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors during the upcoming season. Only Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence (+300) and Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (+750) own better odds. While NFL Media analyst Lance Zierlein is high on the No. 3 overall pick, he isn't buying into the hype when it comes to the quarterback's chances to be named the NFL's best rookie. Any 49ers fans who have been listening to what the team has said this offseason will certainly



Fred Warner on 49ers rookie Trey Lance: 'I'm very excited about his growth'

By David Bonilla
Jul 24, 2021

The San Francisco 49ers can see the potential talent in their first-round pick, Trey Lance. It's what led the team to trade up to select the quarterback with the No. 3 overall pick. The rookie's teammates have praised the 21-year-old, who lacks a lot of collegiate experience heading into his first NFL season. Lance started 17 games for North Dakota State but faced lesser competition than some bigger programs and has played in just one game since January of 2020. Jimmy Garoppolo is the frontrunner to be the 49ers' Week 1 starter and could hold onto the job for all of 2021, assuming he can remain healthy. However, Lance is proving to be a hard worker, evident by the several workout videos posted during the team's "time off," and could prove to be a quick



John Lynch 'hopeful' 49ers will sign rookie QB Trey Lance soon

By David Bonilla
Jul 27, 2021

Today, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch was asked about the contract situation with the team's No. 3 overall pick. Rookie quarterback Trey Lance remains the only unsigned player from the Niners' most recent draft class. "We're sure hopeful that he does (sign soon)," Lynch said. "Sometimes these things -- I just look at our history since we've been here. We've never had a holdout. It always seems to go down to the wire. It's important that he is here. "I think for any rookie, for every player, every rep counts, every meeting counts, but in particular at that position. So we're hopeful and expecting that Trey will be here and certainly know the importance of him being here." 49ers players reported to the team's facilities this morning for



Watch 49ers rookie Trey Lance fire up the crowd before practice

By David Bonilla
21 hrs ago

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan regretted not having a rookie player fire up the crowd during the first training camp practice this week. The team has tasked a rookie with doing so in previous years. Obviously, not last year, as no fans were in the stands for practices. "We usually do a rookie hype machine, and I feel like I didn't see it out there today," Shanahan told reporters yesterday. "So I was kind of disappointed with that. I'll get that corrected later today, but it was definitely different (seeing fans again). And I'm so pumped to see it in the stadium." Shanahan did get it corrected. Rookie quarterback Trey Lance, the 49ers' first-round pick, was the one out there getting fans fired up before today's practice — the


Featured

More by TJ Bice

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone