San Francisco 49ers Draft: Day 2 Defined By Adding Bullies To The Mix, Trades
The San Francisco 49ers spent Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft attempting to add bullies to the mix on the offensive side of the ball and making multiple trades up and down the board.
At the end of the day, the 49ers added three more players to their roster.
Second Round, 48th Pick: Aaron Banks, Guard, Notre Dame
Third Round, 88th Pick: Trey Sermon, Running Back, Ohio State
Third Round, 102nd Pick: Ambry Thomas, Cornerback, Michigan
The obvious focus on Day 2 was adding more weapons and protection for recently-drafted No. 3 overall pick, quarterback Trey Lance from North Dakota State.
In the process, San Francisco was able to move down five spots with the Las Vegas Raiders in the second round to pick up a fourth-round selection while yielding its seventh rounder.
It then used said fourth-round pick and its own selection early on Day 3 to move into the third round for Trey Sermon. After these plethora of moves, the 49ers have four selections remaining on Saturday. Below, I break down what the picks of Banks, Sermon and Thomas mean for the 49ers moving forward.
San Francisco 49ers Trade Down For Aaron Banks In Second Round
Right guard is obviously a need in San Francisco with Daniel Brunskill slated to compete with other lesser-known individuals for the starting job. The 49ers’ decision to re-sign Tom Compton will add even more competition.
With that said, Banks could very well beat out the rest when all is said and done during training camp. The 6-foot-5, 325-pound Banks might not seem like a fit in San Francisco’s zone-blocking scheme. Realistically, that could be the point. It seems as if head coach Kyle Shanahan is more than comfortable going with more physical offensive linemen moving forward. That’s exactly what this multi-year starter and former All-American brings to the table.
“Mass of humanity who’s able to cast his frame upon opponents and win with pure size at times. His core and base are rock-steady, as he’s rarely jostled by contact,” NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein wrote in his scouting Banks’ scouting report. “He can create momentum with his size as a run blocker, but he’s not a great bender and lacks explosiveness into contact. Pass protection will get a little choppy against athletic interior rushers and twist games that force him to make quick slides to cut off his edges, but he has the anchor to stall bull rushers all day long.”
The goal is for San Francisco to find better pass protection from the interior of its offensive line after this area struggled big time in 2020. Banks is a plus-level pass protector who can open up lanes in the running game. Banks did not allow a single sack with Notre Dame a season ago en route to earning First-Team All-American honors.
San Francisco 49ers Trade Up For Stud Running Back Trey Sermon
It’s interesting to look at. I focused on the possibility that the 49ers might use a luxury pick on a running back at some point early in the 2021 NFL Draft. The initial focus was likely Alabama’s Najee Harris in a trade up late in Round 1 before he went off the board to the Pittsburgh Steelers with the 24th pick.
In turn, the 49ers opted to trade up for a similar power runner in Sermon from Ohio State. The 6-foot, 215-pound back was electric with the Buckeyes a season ago after transferring from Oklahoma. He recorded 965 total yards at a clip of 7.5 yards per rush. Those are some dynamic numbers right there.
“After a quasi-productive career at Oklahoma, Sermon took his game to another level after transferring to Ohio State,” Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network noted. “He’s a big, versatile running back who is effective running on the inside carrying the ball as well as catching it out of the backfield. Sermon does the little things well and could develop into a featured runner on Sundays in the right offense.”
Much like the aforementioned Banks, Sermon is not necessarily a fit in the type of offense we’ve seen Shanahan run with the 49ers. In the past, he’s relied on the likes of Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert — two shifty backs.
Rather, Sermon looks for (and oftentimes) finds contact. He’s a power runner between the tackles, but lacks the necessary burst to hit the edge on a consistent basis.
With all of that said, we’re looking at a potential three-down back in the NFL and someone who can bully opposing defenses. Sermon also boasts a solid set of hands out of the backfield and is a willing blocker.
While I indicated that this was more of a luxury pick above, it’s important to note that current 49ers running backs Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson and the recently-signed Wayne Gallman are all free agents after the 2021 season. There’s a chance that Sermon could join Trey Lance as a dynamic new backfield pairing the following year. Getting him in a trade up for two fourth-round picks — one of which was acquired in a trade down five spots in Round 2 — is a steal.
San Francisco 49ers Add Potential Starter In Ambry Thomas
49ers fans were on pins and needles late in Round 3 after fellow cornerbacks Elijah Molden and Ifeatu Melifonwu went off the board in the two picks before San Francisco selected.
Pretty much immediately and without using up much of their clock, the 49ers took this former Michigan standout. Obviously, cornerback was a need heading into the draft with Richard Sherman’s future in San Francisco up in the air.
Thomas (6-foot, 191 pounds) is pretty much what the 49ers have valued at cornerback under Shanahan and general manager John Lynch. He already boasts plus-level ball skills and technique in coverage and doesn’t shy away from contact. Helping matters here is the fact that Thomas can moonlight as a kick returner.
With that said, he was hampered by the decision to opt out of the 2020 college football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Thomas was on his way to becoming a top-45 pick following a 2019 season in which he recorded three interceptions.
San Francisco 49ers Day 3 Draft Picks And More Notes
San Francisco has four more selections remaining in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Fifth Round, 155 Pick
Fifth Round, 172nd Pick
Fifth Round, 180th Pick
Sixth Round, 193rd Pick
There’s a very good chance that Lynch and Co. will make a couple trades once the draft comes calling Saturday afternoon from Cleveland.
We could see San Francisco either move one of its fifth-round picks for a future selection or package two of them to move up to the fourth round. Either way, expect some wheeling and dealing.
Despite adding to some areas of need, the 49ers must address a few positions on Day 3. That includes slot wide receiver, center and the edge pass rush position. In keeping with this theme, here’s a mini mock for the remainder of San Francisco’s draft.
Fifth Round: Demetric Felton, Wide Receiver, UCLA
Fifth Round: Michal Menet, Center, Penn State
Fifth Round: Jonathon Cooper, EDGE, Ohio State
Sixth Round: Derrick Barnes, Linebacker, Purdue