Forward thinking: like Marcus Lattimore, 49ers investing RS year in Brandon Thomas

Thomas is the first Clemson offensive lineman drafted in the top three rounds in 35 years

INDEPENDENT MAIL FILE PHOTO
Clemson’s Brandon Thomas blocks for Tajh Boyd during the first quarter of their game against Boston College at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 12. Thomas was the only player offensive coordinator Chad Morris praised after Saturday’s 51-14 loss to Florida State.

Photo by Ken Ruinard, Anderson Independent Mail, S.C.

INDEPENDENT MAIL FILE PHOTO Clemson’s Brandon Thomas blocks for Tajh Boyd during the first quarter of their game against Boston College at Memorial Stadium on Oct. 12. Thomas was the only player offensive coordinator Chad Morris praised after Saturday’s 51-14 loss to Florida State.

A year ago, with an eye toward the future, the San Francisco 49ers took a chance, drafted South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore following a horrific knee injury, and put him on the shelf for a year.

They'll get a look at the payoff from their investment this summer, as the former Gamecock star joins full-team workouts in hopes of earning a spot in the backfield behind veteran Joe Gore.

Late Friday evening, the 49ers made the same play for Clemson offensive tackle Brandon Thomas, who they nabbed with the final pick of the third round - No. 100 overall.

Like Lattimore, Thomas will spend his first NFL season as a "redshirt," sitting out and rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered earlier this spring while working out for the New Orleans Saints.

Before being injured, Thomas had turned in a string of impressive performances for NFL scouts, first at the Senior Bowl, then at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and again at Clemson's Pro Day.

Also part of his resume was a strong showing against South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney - the overall No. 1 pick in the draft - during their November meeting in Columbia.

In NFL.com's scouting report on Thomas, he's described this way:

"Good size with very long arms and big hands. Quick out of his stance. Knee bender with good balance and body control. Solid base. Places his hands inside and can pop and recoil. Strong-handed puncher with good grip strength once he latches on. Athletic, efficient mover. Light on his feet to step to the second level or pull. Can maneuver and throw his hips in the hole. Climbs to the second level. Three-year starter who played tackle (two-time first-team All-ACC at LT). Held his own against Jadeveon Clowney without help."

Thomas is the first Clemson offensive lineman to be drafted in the first three rounds in 35 years.

The selection of Thomas capped an eventful second day of the draft for the 49ers, who earlier in the day took advantage of Buffalo's selection of Sammy Watkins to acquire wide receiver Stevie Johnson in a trade with the Bills.

Johnson spent the past four seasons as a starter in Buffalo. He became the Bills' first player to break 1,000 yards receiving in consecutive seasons in 2010-11, and extended the streak in 2012.

Then in the second round, San Francisco added to its backfield mix by drafting Ohio State's Carlos Hyde, creating added depth and competition for the running back spot.

Thomas became the team's second offensive lineman picked on Day 2 after Southern Cal center Marcus Martin went 70th overall in the third round.

The 49ers initially list Thomas as a guard, though he played primarily at tackle in college.

Thomas became the first Clemson offensive lineman taken within the first three rounds of the NFL draft since Joe Bostic was selected in the third round with the 64th pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1979.

He is the first Tiger drafted by the 49ers since Derrick Hamilton was a third round selection as a wide receiver in 2004.

The ACC had 10 players selected on the second day.

Three players from 2013 National Champion Florida State were chosen: cornerback Lamarcus Joyner at No. 41 by the St. Louis Rams, defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan at No. 48 by the Balitmore Ravens, and safety Terrence Brooks No. 79, also by the Ravens.

The three selections gave Florida State four players taken on the first two days of the draft, as WR Kelvin Benjamin was also chosen 28th overall on the first round Thursday night. A year ago, the Seminoles led all schools with 11 players selected.

Miami, which had offensive guard Brandon Linder chosen 93rd overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars, extended their consecutive streak to 41 straight years as the Hurricanes have now had at least one player chosen every year since 1974.

Three ACC schools saw significant draft streaks continue. Both FSU and Virginia, which saw T Morgan Moses taken 66th by the Washington Redskins, extended their streaks to 32 consecutive years with at least one player taken in the NFL Draft.

Rounding out the ACC selections on Day Two of the NFL Draft were Georgia Tech defensive end Jeremiah Attaochu, who was selected 50th overall by the San Diego Chargers; Syracuse defensive tackle Jay Bromley, who was tabbed 74th overall by the New York Giants; Maryland cornerback Dexter McDougle, chosen 80th by the New York Jets, and Clemson's Thomas.

Follow Kerry Capps on Twitter @oandwkc

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Comments » 1

33dtb writes:

............."Thomas is the first Clemson offensive lineman to be drafted in the first three rounds in 35 years."...........................

What's that tell you ????

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