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Looking at the Impact of the 49ers 2018 Rookie Class

Since the regular season has come to a close, now’s a good time to reflect on the production of the San Francisco 49ers 2018 rookie class. The 49ers selected a total of nine players in the 2018 NFL Draft with all but one making the active roster. Here’s a review of San Francisco’s 2018 draft class.

MIKE MCGLINCHEY – Round 1; 9th Overall

16 games (16 starts)

1,118 total snaps (1050 offensive snaps)

McGlinchey came in as a Day 1 starter in place of New England Patriots tackle Trent Brown and showed why San Francisco chose him with the ninth-overall pick. (The 49ers traded Brown for the 95th pick in the draft which turned into third-round pick Tarvarius Moore.) The rookie started all 16 games for San Francisco and played the most offensive snaps of any member of the 49ers.

At the close of the season, McGlinchey was named to Pro Football Focus’ 2018 All-Rookie Team. He finished the year as their highest-graded rookie tackle (73.2 overall grade) and the second-highest-graded rookie offensive lineman behind Indianapolis Colts guard Quenton Nelson (74.9). No rookie tackle was more dominant than McGlinchey as a run blocker. He notched a 78.2 grade in the category, best among rookie offensive linemen.

“McGlinchey has been great all year,” Kyle Shanahan said in December. “Just the pressure that was put on him in the first day to come in, replace Trent (Brown) and take over that spot. He showed it wasn’t too big for him the first day of OTAs and he’s continued throughout the year. He definitely has plays that aren’t perfect, like all O-linemen do. But, like I said before, McGlinchey plays within the game very well. He’s always up for the challenge of whoever he’s going against. He’s very prepared.”

DANTE PETTIS – Round 2; 44th Overall

12 games (7 starts)

469 total snaps (452 offensive snaps)

Pettis’ versatility as a receiver and punt returner ultimately led to the 49ers trading up 15 spots in the draft to select him. Before suffering an MCL injury in Week 16, Pettis strung together an impressive late-season run to close out the year. He totaled four touchdowns and 338 yards on 17 receptions during that four-game stretch. San Francisco’s second-round pick appeared in 12 games and posted a total of 467 yards on 27 catches and tied for a team-high five receiving touchdowns.

Pettis’ five touchdown receptions were the most by a member of the 49ers in their rookie season since running back Jimmy Thomas registered five in 1969. Those scores tied for the second-most by a rookie in franchise history.

As a big-play threat, Pettis posted 17.3 yards per catch, which ranked second among rookie receivers.

FRED WARNER – Round 3; 70th Overall

16 games (16 starts)

1,171 total snaps (1,060 defensive snaps)

Warner quickly shaped into a leader on defense as the linebacker assumed play-calling duties in Week 1. San Francisco’s coaching staff were complimentary of the rookie's immediate command at MIKE linebacker.

“What Fred Warner did for us this year, for him to play in all these games to battle through that as a rookie, that is pretty unheard of,” Shanahan said. “The pressure at MIKE linebacker to just be the leader of the defense and the voice of the defense and to play with the physicality that position takes all year as a rookie and to still show up every Sunday, that's extremely impressive. If you don't have that stuff, it's tough to go in the right direction because we had to turn over a lot of people. In order to do that, you have to have stories like that and we've got to have more next year coming too.”

To put his production into perspective, Warner played 98.8 percent of defensive snaps, the most snaps of any member of the 49ers defense. He also led San Francisco’s defense with 124 total tackles (third most of any rookie linebacker) and added six passes defended, two quarterback hits, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

TARVARIUS MOORE – Round 3; 95th Overall

16 games (2 starts)

561 total snaps (232 defensive snaps)

After spending most of his season on special teams, Moore was thrust into action at corner following a season-ending knee injury to Ahkello Witherspoon in Week 15. He totaled 23 tackles, two passes defended and a forced fumble on the year. He’s likely to be in contention for a starting spot opposite Richard Sherman in 2019.

“We're extremely excited about Tarvarius,” John Lynch expressed to the media in his closing press conference. “He got an opportunity to go play and I think he showed some really good things, but I think that's going to be great competition between he and Ahkello. We’ll see. Like I said, we're still in the early stages, but you know, we've been studying the free agents available. We've obviously been studying the Draft and that's a spot I think you just keep adding that. You have to be strong there.”

KENTAVIUS STREET – Round 4; 128th Overall

0 games

0 snaps

Street was the only drafted rookie to not see any snaps in 2018 as the defensive lineman spent the year on the Reserve/Non-Football Injury List. San Francisco’s fourth-round pick has been working his way back from an ACL injury suffered during a pre-draft workout. Street made his practice debut this past December and appears to be on track to return by the start of San Francisco’s offseason program.

D.J. REED JR. – Round 5; 142nd Overall

15 games (2 starts)

547 total snaps (360 defensive snaps)

Reed’s role on defense grew throughout the season due to the 49ers overwhelming number of injuries. In addition to his role on special teams, Reed saw snaps at both nickel cornerback and free safety. He totaled 41 tackles, a forced fumble and his first career sack against Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum. Defensive coordinator Robert Saleh believes Reed has shown enough to put his name in the nickel cornerback competition with K’Waun Williams in 2019.

“D.J., he’s a good football player,” Saleh said. “He had an opportunity to go out there and play. He’s an instinctive player. He’s had some opportunity throughout the season to go play and I’m excited for him. I’m glad he got his opportunity, and he showed up.”

MARCELL HARRIS – Round 6; 184th Overall

8 games (5 starts)

358 total snaps (358 defensive snaps)

Harris spent the first eight weeks of his rookie campaign on San Francisco’s Injured Reserve/Designated for Return List. The rookie safety was working through his rehab after missing his entire senior season at Florida following an Achilles injury in 2017. He made his first NFL start nearly 17 months later after Jaquiski Tartt was sidelined with a nagging shoulder injury.

Harris rebounded from a tough debut in Week 13 against the Seattle Seahawks with a standout performance in the 49ers Week 14 win against the Broncos. He made several crucial tackles, including a fourth-down stop against Phillip Lindsay. Harris played every snap for the remainder of the season upon being put into the lineup in Week 13.

“His first game out a ton was Seattle where he struggled a little bit and he’s gotten better each game since,” Shanahan said. “Marcell’s got the talent to play. He definitely has the ability and we love his mindset. You guys can see him out there. Even if he’s wrong, he’s still flying around trying to hit people. He doesn’t hesitate. The more experience he gets, the better he’ll get and I think he’s shown the teammates, the coaches and the fans that he has a chance to help us next year. He’ll be right in the mix competing with a number of other guys.”

JULLIAN TAYLOR – Round 7; 223rd Overall

6 games

102 total snaps (101 defensive snaps)

Taylor saw his first game action on the road in Week 12 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He spent the season primarily in a reserve role and totaled seven tackles on the year. With Street making his return in 2019 and Arik Amstead’s uncertain future in San Francisco, the 49ers situation at the big end spot could be one of the 49ers more intriguing battles this offseason.

RICHIE JAMES JR. – Round 7; 240th Overall

13 games (2 starts)

326 total snaps (192 offensive snaps)

The rookie appeared in 13 games and showed flashes throughout the season as both a receiver and a kick returner. James averaged 14.4 yards per catch in 2018, totaling nine receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown. His season was highlighted by an impressive 97-yard kick return score in Week 15 against the Seahawks. He's likely to compete with Trent Taylor as the 49ers slot receiver in 2019.

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