Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories focused on the 49ers’ trek toward the 2014 NFL Draft (May 8-10). We'll have content every day, including position breakdowns, retrospectives, mock drafts, comments from general manager Trent Baalke and more. Bookmark our Road to the NFL Draft and set your DVRs for April 28 at 4:30pm, when the 49ers Draft Preview show debuts on CSN Bay Area.
With 11 scheduled selections, the 49ers have an opportunity to add a larger-than-normal draft class to their roster this season.
But the list of possible first-year contributors does not end there. The 49ers also expect as many as three of their leftovers from a year ago to be in the mix this season after being sidelined as rookies due to injuries sustained as college players.
Here’s a look back at the 49ers’ 2013 draft class and how they figure into the future of the organization:
FS Eric Reid
No. 18 overall, LSU
6 foot 1, 213 pounds
First impression: The 49ers traded up 13 spots in the first round to take the No. 1 safety on their board. They had him rated ahead of Kenny Vaccaro, whom the New Orleans Saints selected three spots earlier. Reid was entrusted with the responsibility of taking over for Dashon Goldson, who signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The early season growing pains did not exist. Reid played very well from the outset. He recorded 77 tackles and four interceptions. He gave up some plays later in the season, but generally played very well while starting all 19 games, including the postseason.
Next step: Reid did a good job of making adjustments in his tackling style. He sustained two concussions as a rookie but did not miss any starts. Now, he’ll likely take on more mental responsibility in the secondary with Donte Whitner gone. Reid will help assimilate veteran Antoine Bethea into the 49ers’ starting lineup.
DL Tank Carradine
No. 40 overall, Florida State
First impression: Too many corners were cut after Carradine underwent ACL surgery to get him ready for the draft, according to sources. The 49ers immediately restarted his rehab, and he opened the season on the non-football injury list. When he was able to get onto the practice field, Carradine was a “bull in a china shop,” according to another source. But he was never was completely healthy. If he had remained on the non-football injury list for the entire season, Carradine would still have four years remaining on his contract. Instead, he is under contract for three more seasons. Carradine underwent another procedure in the offseason, and coach Jim Harbaugh said Carradine looks like a new man.
Next step: He is taking part in the offseason program and should be ready to show what he can do on the football field. Carradine can play every position as a pass-rusher in the 49ers’ nickel package. He could be asked to help compensate for Aldon Smith – assuming the NFL levies a suspension on the 49ers’ top pass-rusher.
TE Vance McDonald
No. 55 overall, Rice
First impression: McDonald was a slot receiver for most of his time in college. But when you’re a tight end with the 49ers, you better learn to block. It was rough in the beginning with McDonald, who was selected to help replace Delanie Walker. But he got better and better as a blocker. He ended up seeing a lot of playing time as the 49ers, again, favored two-tight end formations. McDonald made virtually no contribution as a pass-catcher with just eight receptions for 119 yards. His most memorable play was a ball that Carolina linebacker Luke Kuechly swatted out of his hands in a narrow loss during the regular season.
Next step: With his size and willingness to block, McDonald figures to continue to see a lot of action as part of the 49ers’ base offense. And just as the 49ers used Walker in the past, he figures to see occasional opportunities in the passing game. Walker was never a huge part of the 49ers’ passing game, and it figures that McDonald will never put up big numbers, either.
OLB Corey Lemonier
No. 88 overall, Auburn
First impression: The 49ers took their time with the conversion of Lemonier to outside linebacker. Actually, he rarely played standing up. When Aldon Smith was lost for five games, Lemonier entered as a defensive end in nickel situations to rush the passer. Lemonier recorded one sack and 10 quarterback hits. He showed some natural pass-rush ability. He played 276 snaps as a rookie.
Next step: Used exclusively as a nickel pass-rusher, Lemonier needs to show a little more versatility in his second season. If Smith is out for any extended period of time, Lemonier has to win the confidence of the coaching staff to be able to mix into the base downs, along with Dan Skuta, at outside linebacker. He has to get more sound with his leverage to set the edge in the run game.
WR Quinton Patton
No. 128 overall, Louisiana Tech
First impression: His eagerness to play in the NFL was obvious when he – against NFL rules – bought his own plane ticket to the Bay Area two days after the draft to starting getting to work. (The 49ers made him go back home.) A couple of injuries really set him back. First, he sustained a fractured finger on a Colt McCoy pass in training camp. Then, in his first game as the No. 3 receiver, he fractured his foot against the St. Louis Rams in Week 4. He was back as the No. 3 wideout late in the season and had a big catch late against the Arizona Cardinals to help set up a win, and he had a key third-down reception early against the Panthers in the playoffs.
Next step: Patton must remain healthy in order to have any chance of reclaiming the No. 3 job. It will not be easy, though, as the 49ers added veteran Brandon Lloyd to go along with Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. Also, the 49ers can be expected to draft a talented wide receiver with one of their first picks in the upcoming draft.
[2014 DRAFT: Beckham best option as 49ers' return man]
RB Marcus Lattimore
No. 131 overall, South Carolina
First impression: After selecting Lattimore, the 49ers told him to completely back off his hard-charging rehab. The 49ers had no intention of allowing him to play at all as a rookie. He did everything the 49ers asked of him, and he even practiced for three weeks late in the season before going back on the non-football injury list. He did not have the kind of foot speed that he showed during his healthy days at South Carolina, but he made tremendous strides after the gruesome knee injury he sustained that ended his college career.
Next step: Lattimore, who remains under contract to the 49ers for four seasons, is 100-percent healthy and taking part in the team’s offseason program. He knows his ticket to playing time is to learn the 49ers’ blitz pickup packages. He has a chance to get playing time behind Frank Gore. He’ll be competing against Kendall Hunter and LaMichael James for playing time.
DL Quinton Dial
No. 157 overall, Alabama
First impression: Dial did not take part in training camp due to the lingering effects of a toe injury. He was activated off the non-football injury list on Oct. 19, and he remained on the 49ers’ 53-man roster for the entire season. He appeared in just three games and got onto the field for just 18 snaps.
Next step: The 49ers have very high hopes for Dial, and believe he has a good chance of fitting into the team’s rotation behind starters Justin Smith, Ray McDonald and Glenn Dorsey. Dial will be up against Ian Williams, Tank Carradine, Demarcus Dobbs, Tony Jerod-Eddie for playing time.
LB Nick Moody
No. 180 overall, Florida State
First impression: He won a roster spot due to his promise on special teams. But he sustained a fractured hand in the season opener against the Green Bay Packers. He spent eight weeks on injured reserve and was active for only three of the final 10 games of the season.
Next step: Moody can become one of the 49ers’ core special teams players while also serving as a backup at inside linebacker. He has a chance to compete for playing time during NaVorro Bowman’s expected absence in the first six weeks of the season due to ACL surgery.
QB B.J. Daniels
No. 237 overall, South Florida
First impression: Daniels lacked ideal size, but he showed good arm strength, agility and a willingness to do a lot of different things. He beat out Scott Tolzien and Seneca Wallace to be the No. 3 quarterback on the roster. But Harbaugh was clearly not too impressed. Daniels was waived on Oct. 1 to make room for veteran quarterback John Skelton. The Seattle Seahawks picked him up. One week later, Skelton was released and the 49ers claimed McLeod Bethel-Thompson off waivers. After finishing the season on the Seahawks practice squad, Daniels re-signed with Pete Carroll's team.
OT Carter Bykowski
No. 246 overall, Iowa State
First impression: The 49ers were looking for a swing tackle, but Bykowski was very rare after making just 18 college starts. He began his college career as a tight end before transitioning to the offensive line. He was not able to make the 49ers’ 53-man roster last season, but had a year to develop on the practice squad.
Next step: The competition is expected to get even more difficult this season. The 49ers added Jonathan Martin in a trade, and the 49ers have once again been looking at offensive tackles in the draft. Also, undrafted Luke Marquardt (foot) should be healthy after sitting out and rehabbing as a rookie.
CB Marcus Cooper
No. 252 overall, Rutgers
First impression: He has ideal size and athleticism at the cornerback position. But the 49ers deemed that Cooper was not among the team’s top five cornerbacks at the start of the regular season. The 49ers waived him, and the Kansas City Chiefs pounced. Cooper ended up playing nearly 60 percent of the Chiefs defensive snaps. After a strong start, Cooper struggled as a rookie. Still, he showed a lot of promise.