The 49ers assembled a 2021 NFL Draft class designed to add quality and depth to an already talented roster. Selecting its members was fun and filled with fanfare, allowing 49ers faithful and the players taken to celebrate in style throughout the three-day event.
That party's over. Now it's time to work.
That starts soon, with the newest 49ers reporting to the team facility next week for rookie minicamp. Head coach Kyle Shanahan and his staff will start integrating them into the roster and 49ers schemes during that session, before they join veterans already in the offseason program.
These draft picks will have an advantage establishing themselves on the depth chart because the 49ers didn't just draft raw talent. They found solid scheme fits. That was the case throughout the class, from quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 overall to running back Elijah Mitchell at No. 194.
Let's take a look at all eight draft picks and how they fit with the 49ers:
QB Trey Lance, North Dakota State (No. 3 overall)
How Trey fits: Lance is a transcendent talent capable of doing most everything well. He has a cannon arm. He has great mobility and evasiveness inside and outside the pocket. He's incredibly smart, both in absorbing information and making on-field decisions. Lance has operated extensively under center, which should make his transition working into Shanahan's scheme a lot easier. Lance can operate well as a pocket passer, but his athleticism should add dimension to what the 49ers can do offensively and make them incredibly difficult to defend. Exactly when he'll join the starting lineup remains uncertain considering his relative inexperience. Jimmy Garoppolo's presence also means he won't be rushed, allowing him to develop at a reasonable pace outside the spotlight. When Lance is deemed ready, he'll step in and lead this team well.
Straight from the source: "When you watch the film, you see such a true quarterback in every aspect of how he plays. Then you meet and you're like, 'Man, this guy doesn't have to be a quarterback. He can go be a CEO of some company.' That's a huge compliment. It's a very impressive thing to watch the skill set he has, just how intelligent he is, how he handles himself. Then to know how he relates to all his teammates, just going up [to North Dakota State] and watching how his teammates talk about him, how they gravitate around him, watching some of them interviewed on TV. You can tell he's going to impress a football team. He'd also impress a company. He's going to be impressive in whatever he's in." – Kyle Shanahan
OL Aaron Banks, Notre Dame (No. 48 overall)
How Aaron fits: Banks is bigger than your standard 49ers guard at 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds, but don't let his size fool you. The man can still move. That will be important in Shanahan's running scheme, where guards are required to run and make vital blocks in space. Banks loves contact and aggressive play, which should help running backs find room in the 49ers zone rushing scheme. There's no doubting he can protect the passer, with top-flight skills forming and maintaining a pocket. Banks should have a shot to start at right guard as a rookie, and team up with fellow Notre Dame alum Mike McGlinchey along the right flank. That could allow Daniel Brunskill to be a swing man backing up center Alex Mack and both guard spots. If Banks isn't quite ready, Brunskill can start at guard without issue.
Straight from the source: "You've got to have certain guys to run a certain type of scheme that can move well. You don't want them small. You just want guys who can move well. So, you've got to be able to move a certain way to kind of, as I say, be in the club for us to want you. But, once you show you can move that certain way, we want the biggest guy possible. Just usually it's hard to get those guys because they go pretty early and we just haven't been in a situation where we can take a guy like that.
"And to be there in the second round and for him to fall to us where we were picking, we felt he was the mover that we wanted. The size and everything was much more of a bonus. It's not just the size, but it's the way he plays. That's what I liked the most, his physicality, his demeanor, kind of his mindset with how he carries himself. So, I felt very fortunate to get him and I'm pumped he's a Niner." – Shanahan
RB Trey Sermon, Ohio State (No. 88 overall)
How Trey fits: It's easy to see how Sermon's skill set will work within the 49ers rushing attack. Why? Ohio State ran a similar scheme. Sermon's a powerful and violent one-cut runner well versed in the zone rushing system. He has great short-area quickness, with the ability to run around or through defenders with a ball in hand. That's why the 49ers traded up to get him and add Sermon to the running back rotation. He should make an immediate impact working with an already talented group featuring Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Wayne Gallman Jr. and JaMycal Hasty. Sermon's also important to the position's long-term outlook, with the aforementioned veterans all set to hit free agency next season.
Straight from the source: "You look at our backs in the past and I think one common element is the speed. And you may look at his 40 time and say he doesn't really fit, but sometimes 40 times can be deceiving. I think what speaks to us is that his [10-second split] time was very good. And you can see that burst. You see that ability to stick his foot in the ground, break tackles and hit it in a hurry. And then he's very adept at making the free safety, the second-level defender miss and he's really good out of the backfield in the pass game as well. I think he's a good fit for what we do." – 49ers GM John Lynch
Check out the new names on the 49ers roster, in order of where they were taken in the 2021 NFL Draft.
CB Ambry Thomas, Michigan (No. 102 overall)
How Ambry fits: Thomas has solid size for his position at 5-11 and 197 pounds, with great quickness and a willingness to play physical in coverage. He's an athletic cornerback who can play on the outside and could develop into a quality NFL starter as 49ers coaches help him refine technique. The 49ers don't need him to step in and start right away, with Jason Verrett and Emmanuel Moseley already slotted for frontline roles. He'll provide solid injury protection for his position group and could earn a starting role in time. Thomas could also help returning kicks, a role he filled at Michigan.
Straight from the source: "He's a guy who ran in the high 4.3's. I think his greatest asset is poise at the moment of truth. When that ball is in the air, he has an ability to locate it. That is not as easy to find as you might think for DBs. As they say, there's a reason they're playing defense. Ambry has a good skill for being very poised when the ball is in the air. We think he can be a good fit with us." – Lynch
OL Jaylon Moore, Western Michigan (No. 155 overall)
How Jaylon fits: The 49ers didn't plan on taking a guard with their first fifth-round pick, but Moore was the highest-graded available player on the draft board. Coaches and scouts have confidence in his ability, so the 49ers snatched him up. Moore has the position versatility coveted in reserve offensive linemen, with the ability to play both tackle and guard. He'll work primarily at guard, where the 49ers have depth with Banks also added to the group. Competition will be stiff for spots on the offensive line, and Moore will work to show he's ready to support what should be a strong front five.
Straight from the source: "We feel he has the skill set and we can move him out to tackle, also. Similar to some of the guys that we have here that can play both the spots. I think in an ideal world, we'd probably keep him at guard, but we're excited he can do [more]." – Lynch
DB Deommodore Lenoir , Oregon (No. 172 overall)
How Deommodore fits: Lenoir has the size and athleticism to compete at the NFL level, and turns pro with the ability to function well in zone or man coverages. The 49ers believe he can do so from several positions. That includes outside cornerback and in the slot. He could learn to play inside watching one of the best in K'Waun Williams, who returned to the 49ers on a one-year deal. Lenoir should be an immediate contributor on special teams while learning behind a solid starting lineup.
Straight from the source: "He's not a nickel only, which means that he could play outside or inside. He'll come in here and try to figure that out and learn it, but he's got the skill set to where he has the ability to play either spot." – Lynch
S Talanoa Hufanga, USC (No. 180 overall)
How Talanoa fits: Hufanga was a bit of a rover with the Trojans, moving around the defensive formation to make key tackles and big plays. He has experience playing underneath as a box safety and can even play linebacker if asked. He wants to make an immediate impact as a core special teams player while developing in his defensive role. That expectation seems appropriate, considering the 49ers are pretty well set at safety with starters Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt and experienced depth behind them.
Straight from the source: "He has got some hybrid qualities. I think maybe what happened to him is that maybe you get pigeonholed, like, what is he? But what we knew him to be was a really good football player that was still there long after we felt like he would go. So that became very attractive to us. He's a playmaker. He has got a knack for making big plays and we're excited to get him into the fold. I saw a quote, it fired up [special teams coordinator Richard] Hightower, that his goal is to be a special team Pro Bowler and in Year 1 and that's a tremendous goal. We hope he can do that." – Lynch
RB Elijah Mitchell, Louisiana-Lafayette (No. 194 overall)
How Elijah Mitchell fits: The 49ers have tons of depth at running back, with Sermon coming in the third round and Gallman Jr. added late in free agency to an already productive group. This was another case of the 49ers drafting the best player available when on the clock. They were excited to add someone with solid ability as a pass catcher out of the backfield, a home-run hitter equipped with breakneck speed. Mitchell will fight to earn regular season carries, though there's also a possibility he could end up developing on the practice squad.
Straight from the source: "I love running between the tackles. I can do that well. I can run outside zone and once I get to the secondary, I can go to distance. … I worked hard to get faster and I dropped a little weight also. All I know is that I'm just ready to get into the open field and show everybody I can run. I'm excited to show that speed once I get there." – Mitchell