49ers' surprising Sermon pick receives passing grade


The 49ers used the first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft to address obvious positions of need at quarterback and offensive guard.

When they traded up in the third round from No. 102 to No. 88 by virtue of a deal with the Los Angeles Rams, it appeared that their third need, cornerback, was going to be filled with the likes of Elijah Molden and Ifeatu Melifonwu still on the board.

But that wasn't the case. The 49ers surprised when they selected Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, adding to an already loaded running back group that includes Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMychal Hasty and Wayne Gallman Jr.

Sermon is a violent runner who is a perfect fit in Shanahan's zone rushing attack. He is a versatile weapon who can catch the ball out of the backfield.

A bruiser with good vision on zone runs, Sermon shows good contact balance, ball security and toughness.

During Ohio State's Big Ten Championship Game win, Sermon went hog wild, rushing for 331 yards (!) in a victory over Northwestern.

Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch clearly wanted to inject some physicality and nastiness into the roster. They got that both in second-round pick Aaron Banks and Sermon, who will give the 49ers' even more of an edge.

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It's clear that Sermon is a perfect fit for the 49ers' offense and likely could become the featured back in time. Shanahan undoubtedly will find a variety of ways to deploy him, and he could become a valuable piece of the 2021 team.

But with corner and slot receiver still pressing needs, trading up to add to an area of strength was a surprising decision that I can't give full marks.

I won't be surprised to see Sermon steamrolling people in Shanahan's offense, but the value of the pick misses the mark some.

Grade: C-plus

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