A lesson from last year: Don't discount the undrafted rookie class.
After all, three members of the 49ers’ undrafted class last year -- safety L.J. McCray, offensive lineman Dillon Farrell and nose tackle Mike Purcell -- spent time on the active roster. This despite the fact that the team drafted 12 players.
This year's class is marked by a quarterback, Dylan Thompson of South Carolina, and a receiver, Dres Anderson of Utah. The 49ers took only one receiver in the draft, DeAndre Smelter, and he may not play in 2015 because of a knee injury. That explains why four wideouts were signed as rookie free agents.
WR Dres Anderson, Utah
6-1, 187, 31 5/8-inch arms, 9 5/8-inch hands
Comment: In a lot of ways, he's the opposite of Smelter. Anderson is a smooth and polished route runner, which is what you would expect from the son of former NFL receiver Willie "Flipper" Anderson. The elder Anderson holds the NFL record for receiving yards in one game -- 336. However, Dres Anderson doesn't have Smelter's size and explosiveness. Like Smelter, Anderson suffered a left knee injury (meniscus tear) during the 2014 season and did not take part in the combine. He may have been a mid-round pick without the injury. He also has value as a kick returner.
WR Isaac Blakeney, Duke
6-4 1/2, 220, 33 5/8-inch arms, 10 3/4-inch hands.
Comment: Blakeney is even bigger than Smelter (though his hands are a tad smaller than Smelter's massive, 11-inch mitts). One of the themes of the 49ers draft is that the team took raw, still-developing talent. Blakeney fits that motif. He played defensive end, then safety, then tight end at Duke before switching to receiver. He caught 47 passes opposite Jamison Crowder, who was drafted by Washington. He finished with 559 yards and seven touchdowns.
WR DiAndre Campbell, Washington
Comment: Another receiver with good size and athleticism. Campbell ran his 40-yard dash in 4.53 seconds and had an impressive 37 1/2-inch vertical leap at his pro day. An Oakland native, Campbell took part in the 49ers’ pro day last month. He had 24 catches for 231 yards and a touchdown last season.
WR Darius Davis, Henderson State
5-11, 212, 31-inch arms, 9 3/4-inch hands
Comment: Davis' weight has been an issue but he seemed to get on top of it in the run-up to the draft. A bruising runner, he dominated the competition at Henderson State to the tune of 2,425 yards and 26 TDs. He averaged more than 22 yards a catch last season, many of them coming on catch-and-go plays in which he simply outran or ran through the defense. He also handled punts.
OL Patrick Miller, Auburn
6-6 3/4, 292, 35-inch arms
Comment: Miller left Auburn as an underclassmen, a surprise considering he had never locked down a starting job on the offensive line in three seasons. He's got good size and the type of length GM Trent Baalke likes. But like Farrell a year ago, he needs to get stronger. Miller had only 16 repetitions on the bench press at Auburn's pro day, which is what you would expect from a wide receiver.
OLB Marcus Rush, Michigan State
6-2, 247, 32 1/2-inch arms, 9 1/8-inch arms
Comment: Rush is the prototypical effort player -- using hustle and relentless to compensate for his lack of size. He started a school-record 53 games at Michigan State and finished with 18 1/2 sacks and 37 1/2 tackles for loss. Rush was not invited to the combine but posted a very good 4.68-second 40-yard dash at his pro day.
QB Dylan Thompson, South Carolina
6-2, 223, 31 1/4-inch arms, 9 1/8-inch hands
Comment: Thompson set South Carolina’s single-season passing record last year with 3,574 yards. He was one of three Gamecocks the 49ers added to the roster Saturday -- running back Mike Davis and tight end Rory Anderson being the others. Baalke noted that he worked in Washington when South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier was there. “You know they're going to be well-coached," he said of Gamecock players. "They're going come into the league, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and that’s nothing against the defense, but on the offensive side of the ball you know they're going to come into the league well-versed. They're going to be able to pick up the information." Thompson isn't known for athleticism. He rushed for minus-19 yards in his lone season as a starter. Still, he posted a respectable 4.68-second 40-yard dash at South Carolina's pro day.
WR DeAndrew White, Alabama
5-11, 193, 31-inch arms, 9 1/8-inch hands
Comment: Alabama's other receiver in this year's draft posted a 4.44-second 40-yard dash at the combine. White dealt with an array of injuries in college, most significantly a an ACL tear in 2012. He had 32 catches for 534 yards and four touchdowns opposite Raiders' first-round pick Amari Cooper this past season.
S Jermaine Whitehead, Auburn
5-11, 193, 31-inch arms, 9 3/8-inch hands
Comment: Whitehead is a smart player who was valedictorian of his high school and who graduated with an accounting degree from Auburn. However, he was suspended for four games after an argument with his position coach. He played in nine games and registered a career-high six interceptions.
Read Matt Barrows’ blogs and archives at sacbee.com/sf49ers.