Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Another one. We’re not sure anybody saw that one coming. Perhaps predictably, the 49ers traded down in the second round and acquired a fourth-round pick from the Raiders. They turned around and flipped that pick, the 121st overall, along with their own fourth-round pick, at 117 overall, for the Los Angeles Rams’ 88th overall pick.
Surely they were targeting a corner. Maybe a defensive end? A tight end, even? Nope.
With the 88th overall pick, the 49ers selected Ohio State running back Trey Sermon, just a beast of a back. This was a surprise, by most measures. San Francisco still has a glaring need at corner, and could probably use a receiver, defensive end and tight end.
With a room full of running backs, including Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., Wayne Gallman and JaMycal Hasty, it felt like running back was pretty far down the list of needs for San Francisco and perhaps they’d just do what they always do, which is to find an undrafted free agent diamond in the rough.
The last time the 49ers traded up for a running back, it was Joe Williams.
Now, Sermon isn’t Williams, and the 49ers have made enormous strides in their evaluations over the years. But Sermon still enters a crowded room, and there were probably other needs that are more glaring.
However, Mostert has dealt with injury issues, and played just eight of the 49ers’ 16 games last year. Wilson Jr. was also dealt injuries and missed four games. With the way the 49ers lean on their running game, it may not be as much of a luxury pick as it initially appears, especially given that the 49ers roster four running backs.
Plus, Sermon was undeniably a stud in college. He has a solid 6-foot, 218-pound frame and quick-twitch measurables, testing elite in the broad jump, vertical, and the first 10 seconds of his 40-yard dash. He’s got burst.
That’s, uh, pretty good.
Trey Sermon's line in the Big Ten Championship Game last year:
17 missed tackles forced (T-most in any game by RB in FBS last year)#49ers
— Jeff Deeney (@PFF_Jeff) May 1, 2021
He was invaluable to the Ohio State offense last season, rushing for 870 yards and 4 touchdowns and catching 12 passes for 95 yards in what was effectively seven games. Over the last three full games of the year, he rushed for 636 yards and 4 touchdowns. When they lost Sermon in the national title game, the offense couldn’t recover.