Mailbag: Draft class looks better prepared to make impact
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After the first day of rookie camp, which was documented in a Friday evening roundup, there were some questions from folks on Facebook.

Here's a sampling of what they wanted to know:

Compared to last years group, does this incoming class seem better prepared to make an impact? (Matt Balderree)
Yes. No question about it.

Last year's draft class had virtually no chance to get on the field as rookies, as the 49ers did not take players at positions where there were immediate needs.

This year, the 49ers had three major needs entering the draft. And those positions -- safety, defensive line and tight end -- were addressed with the 49ers' top three picks.

Safety Eric Reid, defensive lineman Tank Carradine and tight end Vance McDonald should see more action as rookies than anyone from the 2012 draft class. The 49ers were the only team in the league that did not start a rookie at any point last season.

I've heard a lot about Patton at WR. But I'd like to get some feedback on how prepared he actually is. Route Running, etc. (Daniel McGunnigle)
After one day of rookie camp, I can tell you that Quinton Patton is nowhere close to being ready. (But that can be said for all of the rookies.) However, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about Patton's future.

[RELATED: Patton nearly misses flight, will be last to move to Bay Area]

Based on one two-hour practice, the thing that he most needs to improve -- aside from just learning the system -- is his route-running. What makes Michael Crabtree so successful is that every route looks the same at the beginning. Crabtree is able to get deep because, for instance, a slant-and-go looks just like a slant until he turns it upfield. He does not tip anything at the top of a route.


Patton looked predictable Friday, and on a couple of deep routes, undrafted rookie cornerback Darryl Morris had no problem keeping up with him.

Does Okoye have a shot at making the 53 as a special teamer this year or is he most likely a practice squad candidate? (Joe Gilbert)
If Lawrence Okoye hangs with it and continues to improve his technique and show promise, the 49ers might be forced to stick him on their 53-man roster.


Remember, only 46 players suit up on game days so the final couple spots on the roster are, in essence, developmental jobs.

If the 49ers wish to place him on their practice squad, they run the risk of another team claiming him off waivers.

[RELATED: Okoye makes 'pitch' to stick with 49ers]

You bring up an interesting point, though. Could you imagine that man running down the field to cover a kickoff?

At this point, everything is possible. If he decides to stick with football through the offseason, we'll then see how he looks once the pads go on during training camp.