San Francisco 49ers

Offense, roster projects mark Day 3 of draft for 49ers

Oklahoma’s Blake Bell, who’s 6-foot-6, switched from quarterback to tight end last year. “That was my decision,” he said. “Ever since I switched, I haven’t looked back.”
Oklahoma’s Blake Bell, who’s 6-foot-6, switched from quarterback to tight end last year. “That was my decision,” he said. “Ever since I switched, I haven’t looked back.” The Associated Press

Trent Baalke broke out all of his favorite moves on the final day of the draft Saturday.

The 49ers’ general manager took a talented-but-injured prospect in Georgia Tech wide receiver DeAndre Smelter. He used a pick on a player, Oklahoma’s Blake Bell, who switched from quarterback to tight end last year.

He took the biggest player in the draft, 6-foot-8 Florida offensive lineman Trent Brown, who recently weighed 387 pounds but is down to 350. He made Clemson punter Bradley Pinion the first specialist taken in the draft.

And of course, the man who has taken on the moniker “Trader Trent” moved around, gaining two extra picks next season and ending up with 10 picks overall this year.

The day began for the 49ers with Bell, who measures 6-6 and 252 pounds and was used as a short-yardage specialist at quarterback early on at Oklahoma. He switched to tight end last year, and the 49ers felt his growth at the position signaled big things to come.

Bell caught 16 passes, four for touchdowns, last season.

“A lot of people thought that OU or somebody wanted me to do it,” Bell said of his position switch. “And I said ‘No, no. That was my decision.’ Ever since I switched, I haven’t looked back. And I’m just excited about it.”

The 49ers added another tight end, South Carolina’s Rory “Busta” Anderson, with their final pick in the seventh round. The team has plenty of question marks at the position, including whether to extend Vernon Davis’ contract. He is entering the final year of his deal and is coming off the worst season of his career.

Another intriguing pick was Smelter, who turned to football in 2013 after knee and shoulder injuries diminished a fastball that once was clocked at 97 mph.

Smelter also played center field at Georgia Tech, and tracking fly balls in the outfield helped him at wide receiver. He averaged 20.4 yards per catch last season in the school’s triple-option attack and scored seven touchdowns.

However, he tore his ACL in late November – a common trait among Baalke’s Day 3 picks in the past – and likely will be sidelined for most, in not all, of the 2015 season.

Still, he has good size at 6-2 and 226 pounds, was a physical player at Georgia Tech and will learn from one of the more rough-and-tumble wide receivers of the last decade, Anquan Boldin. Smelter said he was “very familiar” with his new teammate.

“I know he’s a big, physical receiver that plays the game the way it should be played,” Smelter said. “I’m planning on learning a lot from him.”

That Bell and Smelter are projects signals how content the 49ers were with their roster – which saw significant defections in free agency as well as retirements – before the draft. The team, for instance, lost both starting cornerbacks in free agency, but didn’t select anyone at that position.

The 49ers also did not draft any true quarterbacks, although Baalke said Bell could be used in emergency situations. The team did sign a quarterback, South Carolina’s Dylan Thompson, after the draft. He, Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert are the only quarterbacks on the roster.

“I feel really good about the roster we have,” coach Jim Tomsula said. “In all positions. Some are not as deep as I’d like to have. ... There was a couple of times in the last three days I was kind of hoping (regarding other teams) ‘Ah, don’t pick that guy!’ because it could have put some depth in that spot. But do I feel good about it? I feel fantastic about the roster.”

After taking three defensive players to start the draft, the 49ers went with offense – and special teams – with their next seven picks.

They selected a workhorse running back, South Carolina’s Mike Davis, as well as two offensive linemen, Ian Silberman and Brown. They were teammates at Florida before Silberman transferred to Boston College.

No player invited to this year’s scouting combine was as tall or as heavy as Brown, who said he figured the 49ers would use him as a tackle. But he said an improved diet has helped him lose weight rapidly and that he’ll probably end up around 345 pounds.

Tomsula said he had predraft conversations with each player selected, including Brown.

“From one guy that likes to eat to another – that’s really how the conversation started,” he said.

Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers.

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