49ers trade back into first for surprise pick

The 49ers trade back into the first round, which wasn’t a surprise.  It was a surprise who they took, an offensive guard from Stanford.

Chip Kelly obviously has separation anxiety from his former conference with the selecting Joshua Garnett 28th overall.

Apparently Oregon’s DeForest Buckner wasn’t enough for one day. The selection of Garnett and Buckner in the first round now makes 10 players drafted from the Pac-12 to Chip Kelly coached NFL teams.

It’s obvious that coach Kelly has an infatuation with his former conference and it’s an infatuation that cost them three of their 12 draft picks. The 49ers gave up their 37th, 105th and 178th pick in this year’s draft.

Kelly attributes his Pac-12 love as a point of emphasis of the conference’s talent.

“I think it speaks to the quality of play in the Pac-12. I think it’s one of the top conferences out there. You’re talking about Stanford and Oregon. You’re talking about two top 10 programs that are turning out players that are outstanding football players. Whether it be on teams that I’ve coached or other teams.”

As mentioned before the trade back into the first round was always a possibility, but it was highly thought it would be to target quarterbacks Connor Cook or Paxton Lynch. General Manager Trent Baalke did say it was brought up.

With all Kelly’s love for Pac-12 players aside, Garnett fills an immediate need. The offensive line for the 49ers was abysmal last season. They were ranked 27th of all possible 32 teams by Pro Football Focus. Even being ranked 30th in run blocking.

Garnett is quite possibly the best run-blocking interior offensive lineman in this draft class, according to Baalke.

“We said all along we want to run the football. In our minds he was the best run-blocking offensive lineman, interior guy in the draft.”

How He Fits

Garnett fits in well when it comes to the 49ers need for a run-blocking help. But when it comes to coach Kelly’s system he may miss the mark.

Kelly runs an up-tempo zone running offense, which is a little slowed down version of his Oregon offense. But if Colin Kaepernick remains at quarterback it would be almost a sure thing that this offense will be sped up to keep the defense off guard with Kaepernick’s running attributes.

Garnett was a mauler in Stanford’s power-run offense, but it was more pro style. It was built to break you down with it strength rather than its speed.

Garnett believes though that he has the ability to adapt to Kelly’s up-tempo offense.

“It’s going to be an adjustment. Obviously, for anybody no matter what team you’re going to. The speed of the game and you’re in the NFL now. Whatever coach wants me to do. I’m going to do it to the best of my abilities. Work day and night 24/7 until I perfect it.”

Where he can improve

Like stated before Garnett played in a vastly different offense in college than the one he will be in the NFL. That offense usually likes to have athletic offensive lineman.

That’s where Garnett has his biggest limitations. He’s definitely more of a power oriented blocker. Who relies mostly on his strength than his quickness. Making it at times difficult to bounce off his initial block and head into the second level.

Where Garnett succeeds in the run blocking game he lacks in pass blocking. He’s more of a hugger when going against interior rushers. He also has a difficulty with quicker lineman.

As a pass blocker you want to be able to get inside your opponent’s shoulder pads, rather than outside. Hugging outside is an obvious holding call and it gives the defensive player more time to swat the offensive player’s hands away. A strong punch to the inside gives the offensive lineman the base to push back into his defender and control him if he being pushed towards the quarterback.

Coaching that up will be a definite point of emphasis for the 49ers staff. But Garnett is a bright kid with goals of heading to medical school in the future, so you can believe he’s a quick learner.

Kelly believes he can do anything he puts his mind too.

“He’s an extremely driven person in everything he does. Whether it’s academics or athletics. I think that’s what you’re looking for. That’s what you’re looking for in a person. No matter the challenge is in-front of him he’s going to attack it with everything he has.”

Final Verdict

I love the player, a lot he’s my second rated guard in this draft. What I don’t like is that the 49ers gave up three picks to get him, and there was a better guard on the board.

Not only do I believe there was a strong possibility that he’d still be there waiting for the 49ers at 37. An interior offensive lineman isn’t the type of player that you usually trade back into the first round for.

He’s definitely a plug in play player at either guard position. Especially when it comes to run-blocking, but his pass protection woes are real.

He fills an obvious need and lets the 49ers do what they want to do and that’s run the football.

Grade: C+