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 opinions 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



Analyzing 49ers QB Trey Lance's rookie season so far

By Rohan Chakravarthi
Oct 14

When the 49ers drafted Trey Lance at No. 3 overall, I thought that he was specifically for 2022, because I felt the inconsistencies with his accuracy in college just needed to be fixed, similar to Josh Allen when he came out of the draft. Well, the inevitable happened, as Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a calf strain in San Francisco's Week 4 loss to Seattle, paving the way for Lance to make his first career start. Up to now, Lance is 25-of-48 for 354 yards, with three touchdowns, and an interception through the air, while also rushing 27 times for 133 yards and a touchdown. So, where does that place Lance? Well, in the limited sample size, Lance has primarily been what was expected, and then some. Coming out of college, Lance was a player



Alex Mack says fans shouldn't be concerned about 49ers rookie Aaron Banks' lack of playing time

By David Bonilla
Oct 19

The San Francisco 49ers have played five games this season. Their second-round draft pick, guard Aaron Banks, has been inactive for each of them. That has led many to question the selection. That's a high draft slot for a player who has yet to contribute this season. Veteran center Alex Mack joined KNBR this morning and was asked about his rookie teammate. What does Banks need to do to get on the football field for the 49ers? "Just keep putting the work in," Mack responded on the Murph & Mac show. "You know, he's a good dude. He works hard. He just has a couple of more things to learn and put the work in. And it's a credit to the other guards that it's not easy to break the starting lineup. We have a lot of depth here. "Aaron is



Kyle Shanahan: Trey Lance is 'the future' for 49ers but don't expect rookie's role to change

By David Bonilla
Oct 26

We know, eventually, Trey Lance will be the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. He has to be. The team gave up too much to trade up and grab him with the No. 3 overall pick. Head coach Kyle Shanahan's future is dependent on Lance developing into a playmaker. That development, however, does not appear to include starting as a rookie. "We know Trey is the future here, and we're trying to do what's best for him and for our team," Shanahan said on Monday. "And Trey's coming off a pretty big injury, and we're going to keep bringing him along and keep getting him prepared as good as he can be to always be ready to come in and help on the plays that we ask him to do. Always be ready to take over if Jimmy gets hurt and being ready to be the future for us



'It's a big concern this year': 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan discusses Javon Kinlaw's injury, development setback

By David Bonilla
Oct 20

Some fans are a bit too quick to write off defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, feeling that he is yet another first-round misstep by the San Francisco 49ers. However, head coach Kyle Shanahan still believes in him and feels the defender's injury setbacks can still be overcome. Kinlaw entered the draft as a raw but physically gifted prospect that could develop into a force along the defensive line. That development has been stalled as the 49ers do what they can to manage the second-year player's injury. Kinlaw sustained a knee injury on December 20, 2020, against the Dallas Cowboys, forcing him to miss the season's final two games. He underwent a procedure after the 2020 season and then had what was described as a minor procedure to reduce swelling in the knee later in


Featured

More by TJ Bice

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone