The San Francisco 49ers added nine players during the 2023 NFL Draft, and in just a couple weeks, the rookies will be in the building to officially begin their NFL journeys. Without a first or second-round pick to work with, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan had to make strategic moves to lock down their talent over the future in the later rounds of the draft.
NFL analysts are now busy assessing the incoming talent for all 32 clubs and offering their instant reactions to each team's improvement over the course of the three-day event.
Originally slated to pick at 99th-overall, the 49ers finessed a trade with the Minnesota Vikings to select safety Ji'Ayir Brown at No. 87, sending over their 102nd, 164th and 222nd-overall to solidify the deal. Kicker Jake Moody and tight end Cameron Latu joined him later in the third round.
Day 3 of the draft was largely dedicated to adding depth on the defensive side of the ball. The first three picks of the finale brought in cornerback Darrell Luter Jr., defensive lineman Robert Beal Jr. and linebacker Dee Winters. San Francisco's three seventh round draftees included tight end Brayden Willis, wide receiver Ronnie Bell and linebacker Jalen Graham.
The overarching goal of this draft, as outlined by both Lynch and Shanahan, was to add depth to an already talent-packed San Francisco roster, and the front office felt confident about their additions coming out of the draft.
"We always talk about, you better have a vision for exactly what we expect this player to be and what is our plan to allow him to be that," Lynch said. "I thought we did a great job as a group collectively of having that vision for each and every player. We made ourselves a better football team this weekend."
Here is how experts around the league evaluated the 49ers nine-player draft class:
Draft Analyst Chad Reuter
"The Niners did not have first- or second-round picks after making trades for Trey Lance... and Christian McCaffrey. In the third round, they moved up for the instinctual safety they needed in Brown, bucked conventional wisdom by grabbing the kicker they're craving in Moody and reached a bit for Latu, a solid tight end.
"Luter is a fierce cornerback who will step in for the Niners as a rookie, while Beal will likely back up veterans on the edge. I love Winters and Graham at linebacker, while Bell plays receiver with linebacker-type toughness."
Draft Analyst Mel Kiper Jr.
"The 49ers entered Day 1 with 11 total picks -- but zero in Rounds 1 or 2. Trades for Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey depleted their capital. Instant-impact rookies can come from any round, of course, but it's asking a lot to guarantee that any of these guys will play early and often. (And who knows, maybe they found the next Brock Purdy in here somewhere.)
"And yet, I like a bunch of these picks... I had a second-round grade on safety Ji'Ayir Brown (No. 87), so I'm a fan of his potential. Tight end Cameron Latu (101) has upside, and he'll get to learn the ropes from George Kittle. Linebacker Dee Winters (No. 216) went about 60 picks after I thought he would. Brayden Willis (No. 247) is going to make an impact as a rookie special-teamer."
Fox Sports: C+
NFC West Writer Eric D. Williams
"The 49ers had no picks in the first and second round this year and made nine picks overall. Penn State safety Ji'Ayir Brown should compete for time in the secondary and tight end Cameron Latu adds another pass catcher to San Francisco's uber-talented offense... The selection of Michigan kicker Jake Moody raised eyebrows. San Francisco selecting a kicker in the third round is the highest a kicker has been taken in the draft since the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took Roberto Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft.
"However, the 49ers had three third-round picks and might not have gotten Moody if they waited until Day 3. And while there are concerns with drafting a kicker that high, it's all good if he plays well, and Moody was excellent in college."