Grant Cohn: 49ers draft grades (the ones that count) (w/video)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2013, file photo, Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward (15) intercepts a pass intended for Toledo wide receiver Alonzo Russell (9) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game in Toledo, Ohio. Ward was selected in the first round, 30th overall, by the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL draft on Thursday, May 8, 2014. (AP Photo/Rick Osentoski, File)

In college, Ward played in the Middle Atlantic Conference. He never covered a receiver who was anywhere near as good as Harvin. Harvin was the 22nd pick in 2009 and is one of the best players in the NFL when he's healthy. The best receiver Ward ever covered in college was Dri Archer from Kent State, who was the 97th pick this year.


The second player the 49ers drafted was Carlos Hyde, a running back from Ohio State. Ohio State hasn't produced a dominant NFL running back since Eddie George 20 years ago. And the Big Ten hasn't produced a Pro Bowl running back since Marion Barber, a fourth-round pick in 2005, who made one Pro Bowl appearance in 2007. But he never rushed for 1,000 yards in a season. He retired in 2012.

Here is the list of Big Ten running backs who have been drafted in the first two rounds the past 10 years: Le'Veon Bell, Montee Ball, Mikel Leshoure, Beanie Wells, Rashard Mendenhall, Laurence Maroney and Chris Perry. Zero Pro Bowl appearances among them.

Hyde might be an effective goal-line back in the NFL, but he probably won't be a difference-maker, especially against Seattle's lightning fast, swarming defense.


Instead of running back Hyde in Round 2, the 49ers could have drafted a wide receiver, a difference-maker at wide receiver – Cody Lattimer or Allen Robinson. Both guys are big – Robinson is 6-3 and 220 pounds. Lattimer is 6-2, 215. And both guys are fast – Robinson ran a 4.42-second 40-yard dash at his Pro Day. Lattimer ran a 4.38.

Those two receivers have the size to improve the 49ers' red-zone offense and the speed to force opposing defenses to back off the line of scrimmage, which would open up running lanes for Frank Gore. Either Lattimer or Robinson would have given the 49ers an advantage over the Seahawks.

But after Day 1 of the draft, the 49ers traded with the Bills for veteran receiver Stevie Johnson. He put up good numbers for poor teams in the past, but he played poorly for a poor team last season and he is not the deep threat the 49ers need. He is a possession receiver, like Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree.

Not one player the 49ers acquired during this draft will make the Seahawks' defense back off the line of scrimmage when these teams face each other in December and January.

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