Evaluating the 2016 49ers NFL Draft Class after One Year

Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) after being sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner (99) during the third quarter at Levi's Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) after being sacked by San Francisco 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner (99) during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The New York Jets defeated the San Francisco 49ers 23-17. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

With the 2016 NFL season now over, Niner Noise takes a look at how the previous San Francisco 49ers NFL Draft class performed.

The San Francisco 49ers’ 2016 NFL Draft class is Trent Baalke’s last sample for the Niners as general manager.

The team has moved on at both GM and head coach, replacing Baalke and Chip Kelly with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan, respectively.

So how will we remember Baalke’s final piece of draft work now that one year’s worth of results are now on the table?

Here at Niner Noise, we take a look back at those draft picks and evaluate each based on their performance both during the year and in preseason.

Incomplete grades are given to those that didn’t see enough playing time or injured.

Starting at the top.

49ers DeForest Buckner

December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers defensive end DeForest Buckner (99) sacks New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty (9) during the third quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1, Pick No. 7 – Oregon DL DeForest Buckner: Grade – A

The undisputed home-run pick of this class is defensive end DeForest Buckner, who proved his worth as the Niners’ top pick.

He looked like a seasoned veteran in both stopping the run and rushing the passer, and his production on the field matched it.

Buckner went on to record 73 total tackles and six sacks on the year.

The potential is sky high for Buckner, and the new 49ers staff will be in good hands for the future with his presence on the defensive line.

Sep 1, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers offensive guard Joshua Garnett (65) looks on from the sideline during the second half of the game against the San Diego Chargers at Qualcomm Stadium. San Francisco won 31-21. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

Round 1, Pick No. 28 – Stanford OL Joshua Garnett: Grade –  C+

It was a rocky start for offensive guard Joshua Garnett, who didn’t find his way into the starting lineup until halfway through the year.

He flashed his skills as a run blocker but was inconsistent in pass protection. That shouldn’t come as a surprise, because that was evident to scouts coming into the draft.

If he can improve his footwork in passing situations. he should be a solid starter for years to come.

The 49ers traded a second-, fourth-, and sixth-round pick to Kansas City for him, which is a steep price. So it remains to be seen if the return on investment plays out.

Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Will Redmond (23) prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Will Redmond (23) prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Round 3, Pick No. 68 – Mississippi St. CB Will Redmond: Grade – Incomplete

Cornerback Will Redmond sat out the entire 2016 campaign, due to a Torn ACL he suffered in college.

Former general manager Trent Baalke insisted that he would see the field during the latter half of the regular season, but that didn’t happen.

Until we see him in regular season action, the grade here is incomplete.

Oct 23, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) scores a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson (33) during the second quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 23, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Russell Shepard (89) scores a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers cornerback Rashard Robinson (33) during the second quarter at Levi’s Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Round 4, Pick No. 133 – LSU CB Rashard Robinson: Grade – B+

It appears the 49ers have found a gem in former LSU cornerback Rashard Robinson, who fell to the fourth round due to off-the-field issues.

He came in and showed no signs of growing pains in his rookie year attacking the ball, knocking eight passes down.

Robinson’s tenacity at the line of scrimmage and ballhawking skills bumped him into a starting role, and he will compete for the top corner in the offseason.

Robinson could prove to be the best pick of this class, in terms of value, when all is said and done.

December 24, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is brought down by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ronald Blair (98) during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

December 24, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) is brought down by San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ronald Blair (98) during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5, Pick No. 142 – Appalachian St. DL Ronald Blair: Grade – C

The 49ers defensive line struggled mightily against the run all year long and paved the way for the younger players to see playing time.

Defensive lineman Ronald Blair benefited from this and went on to record three sacks on the year.

Most of his playing time was sparing and in a rotational role, so next season we will get a closer look as to his true potential.

Sep 19, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Greyson Lambert (11) reacts with offensive tackle John Theus (71) after a Georgia touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated South Carolina 52-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 19, 2015; Athens, GA, USA; Georgia Bulldogs quarterback Greyson Lambert (11) reacts with offensive tackle John Theus (71) after a Georgia touchdown against the South Carolina Gamecocks during the second half at Sanford Stadium. Georgia defeated South Carolina 52-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Round 5, Pick No. 145 – Georgia OL John Theus: Grade – Incomplete

Offensive tackle John Theus was inactive on the roster until veteran left tackle Joe Staley was sidelined due to injury late in the season.

Theus saw some playing time in four games, starting one, but there wasn’t enough action to give him a complete grade for this evaluation.

Aug 14, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Jeff Driskel (6) passes against the Houston Texans in the fourth quarter at Levi’s Stadium. The Texans won 24-13. Mandatory Credit: John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports

Round 6, Pick No.  207 – Florida QB Jeff Driskel: Grade – D

Quarterback Jeff Driskel had a tough going in the preseason and clearly wasn’t ready for the big show.

Backup veteran QB Christian Ponder outplayed him and won the third-string spot over Driskel, leaving him the odd man out on the team.

The 49ers waived him before the season started, and Driskel was picked up by the Cincinnati Bengals.

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Round 6, Pick No. 211 – Florida RB Kelvin Taylor: Grade – F

Running back Kelvin Taylor was a non-factor in limited playing time in the preseason and didn’t make the cut on the active roster.

He was placed on the practice squad but later cut in November from where he signed to the Seattle Seahawks practice squad, and then cut again twice.

Taylor has the bloodlines, his father is Jaguars great Fred Taylor, but the younger Taylor needs to improve dramatically in between the tackles to garner any return to the NFL.

December 24, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Rod Streater (81) celebrates with wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (13) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) his touchdown scored against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

December 24, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Rod Streater (81) celebrates with wide receiver Aaron Burbridge (13) and quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) his touchdown scored against the Los Angeles Rams during the second half at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Round 6, Pick No. 213 – WR Aaron Burbridge: Grade – C

It was on special teams that wide receiver Aaron Burbridge saw the most playing time, but he was solid all year long in that area.

He only hauled in seven catches for 88 yards on the year and was buried on the depth chart.

It remains to be seen if he can emerge next season with a new offensive coordinator, but his value lies on the special teams.

Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Prince Charles Iworah (30) prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 20, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; San Francisco 49ers cornerback Prince Charles Iworah (30) prior to the game against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Round 7, Pick No.  249 – CB Prince Charles Iworah: Grade – Incomplete

The final pick of last year’s NFL Draft only played in one game during the regular season, and it came on special teams.

Cornerback Prince Charles Iworah was mainly a practice squad player in his rookie season, so his grade is listed as incomplete for now.

Overall, former general manager Trent Baalke’s 2016 NFL Draft class wasn’t that great. The 49ers, essentially, got only two worthwhile starters out of the entire crop — DeForest Buckner and Rashard Robinson.

Others may develop. But the Niners clearly needed a larger influx of talent considering how weak the roster was at that point.

It still is now.

Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming draft and coaching staff moves here on Niner Noise.

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