After over two years, three much-lauded draft picks saw that 30-27 loss to the Giants. With the build up has come the disappointment: Vance McDonald has had two catches for 9 yards, Corey Lemonier made his first start — with zero tackles or quarterback pressure in 29 snaps — and Tank Carradine has had one assist and played only 10 snaps. The 49ers rank 30th in passing defense and have only four sacks in a four-game losing streak. In other words, the draft picks haven’t fulfilled the promise of their high-end selections, though all have of them could have taken more leading roles in multiple starts. And there are other problems.
After their Super Bowl performance, the Niners entered the draft with high hopes. Using his first-round pick on LSU’s Eric Reid, who replaced Pro Bowl safety Dashon Goldson, 49ers’ GM Trent Baalke’s next three picks were men at positions filled by older players: tight end McDonald, defensive tackle Carradine and third-round outside linebacker Corey Lemonier. However, only three of the twenty-two picks since in 3 years have been starters, and of those twenty-two, twelve have played less than thirty percent of offensive or defensive snaps this season.
Aldon Smith’s release in August and Ray McDonald’s in December made room for Lemonier and Carradine — neither of whom have made up for the loss with Carradine out the first NFL seasons due to a torn ACL before the draft. And, the 49ers don’t have a player on schedule for their unlucky seven-man 2012 draft.
But the future may fare better than the present as some of Baalke’s late-round picks have produced some advancement: outside linebacker Aaron Lynch, cornerback Kenneth Acker and third-round pick Chris Borland, who had a team-high 108 tackles as a rookie (he retired in March). Baalke was hoping his picks would be a long-term investment for the Niners’ future — maybe forgetting to plan for the here and now.