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49ers 2014 Draft Forecast: Special Teams

Odell Beckham
Odell Beckham
Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

The 49ers have been solidified for the most part when it comes to specialists. Punter Andy Lee has a long-term contract while placekicker Phil Dawson re-signed with the team in the offseason for a two-year contract.

One of the more underrated acquisitions was LS Kevin McDermott, who became the team's starting long-snapper after cutting 13-year veteran Brian Jennings for financial cap space reasons. McDermott did not disappoint, being mistake-free while the 49ers saved $500,000 in cap space for this season.

While the long snapper, placekicker and punter are positions not needed, the 49ers could take a look at kickoff and punt returners. It would be expected that the 49ers take a player with the versatility to return both punts and kickoffs besides their natural position.

RB LaMichael James is the incumbent returner for punts and kickoffs with very little competition behind him on the depth chart. Others who have had looks at returns include CB Perrish Cox and WR Devon Wylie.

WR Odell Beckham (LSU) 5-11, 198 pounds: Beckham would provide instant competition for special teams other than his already smart offensive skills. He doesn't have the greatest breakaway speed, but is dangerous in the open field as dodging tackles. Beckham will most likely be a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

CB Justin Gilbert (Oklahoma State) 6-0, 202 pounds: Gilbert would also be a dangerous kickoff returner and is clocked as one of the fastest players in the draft. He has six career kickoff return touchdowns in college. Gilbert is projected to be a first round draft pick.

WR Dri Archer (Kent State) 5-8, 173 pounds: Archer would be similar to a Darren Sproles-type of player with a short height, but explosive speed. He clocked the fastest time at the combine with a 4.26 second 40-yard dash while showing versatility on offense as well as the return game. On the 49ers, he could be an instant returner and would be feared on special teams. Archer projects to be a third or fourth-round draft pick.

WR Jared Abbrederis (Wisconsin) 6-1, 195 pounds: Abbrederis has experience as a punt returner and also became a No.1 WR while at Wisconsin. A former walk on, Abbrederis can return both kickoffs and punts if needed while also projecting to be a 4th or 5th WR. Abbrederis projects to be a mid-round draft pick.

WR Jalen Saunders (Oklahoma) 5-9, 165 pounds: Saunders would provide immediate competition for punt returning with experience at Oklahoma. He is a lightweight WR with decent vertical speed and wouldn't have high demand. Saunders is expected to be a late-round draft pick.

WR John Brown (Pittsburgh St., Kansas) 5-10, 179 pounds: Brown would mostly compete as a return man on the 49ers if drafted. He upped his stock with an impressive Pro Day and was a blazing WR at the Division II level. Brown is projected to be a late-round draft pick.


49ers 2014 Draft Picks:

1. First round: Own pick, No. 30 overall
2. Second round: Kansas City Chiefs pick acquired for Alex Smith, No. 56 overall
3. Second round: Own pick, No. 61 overall
4. Third round: Titans pick acquired for a second round pick in a 2013 draft day trade, No. 77 overall
5. Third round: Own pick, No. 94 overall
6. Third round: Compensatory, No. 100 overall
7. Fourth round: Own pick, No. 129 overall
8. Fifth round: Own pick, No. 170 overall
9. Seventh round: Saints pick acquired for Parys Haralson, No. 242 overall
10. Seventh round: Panthers pick acquired for Colin Jones in 2012, No. 243 overall
11. Seventh round: Own pick, No. 245 overall


49ers Draft Forecast Series: Running Back, Tight End, Defensive Line, Quarterback, Safety, Offensive Line, Inside Linebacker, Outside Linebacker.

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