If you like smash-mouth football, you’ve got a doozy on Monday night as Georgia plays Alabama. With over 20 eventual NFL draftees combined, the 2018 National Championship will have a ton of scouts in attendance, and the eyes of every front office including John Lynch and the 49ers.
Below we break down some of the best draft-eligible players from both teams, and provide a spin on how they would fit or not fit with the 49ers.
Roquan Smith, LB (#3) - The Butkus Award winner and star of the Georgia defense plays smart, he can defend the run, play the pass, anticipate, and close with insane speed. Paired with Rueben Foster, Smith could help make the 49ers' linebacking crew one of the fastest and elite for years to come.
Nick Chubb (#27) & Sony Michel (#1), RB - Terrell Davis ran for over 2,000 yards in a season, won two Super Bowls, and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2017, all under the tutelage of current 49ers coach Bobby Turner — and he backed up ex-Niner Garrison Hearst, too. Fast forward to 2017 and Turner could get the chance at two more Georgia running backs in Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. Chubb is UGA’s second all-time leading rusher, with Michel third. Chubb rushed for over 1,500 yards as a freshman, but had a devastating leg injury his sophomore year. Healthy now, Chubb used his physicality to rush for 1,320 yards and 15 touchdowns. His counterpart, Sony Michel, might be the better NFL prospect and the most explosive RB in the 2018 class. His agility and speed was on display last week vs. Oklahoma with 11-181-3. As for the 49ers, it seems entirely possible the team moves on from Carlos Hyde and finds a back in the draft. Chubb and Michel are top options.
Lorenzo Carter, OLB/DE (#7) - While he hasn’t had the most productive career (4.5 career sacks), his athleticism and size (6-foot-6) plays at the next level. He will be one of the deciding factors as offenses try to scheme around Roquan Smith. Carter isn’t really a fit, but with his downhill style the 49ers could play him outside on passing downs.
Isaiah Wynn, OT (#77) - He’s athletic, powerful, uses his hands well and has started since his sophomore year. So, why haven’t we heard of him? 6-foot-2 left tackles are too small at the NFL level. He’ll move inside in the pros where he should thrive. Before then, watch him anchor the line for Chubb and Michel with his athleticism. With their need to shore up the interior line, the 49ers could be the team to flip Wynn into a guard.
Deandre Baker, CB (#18) - The wiry 180-pound CB was named second-team All-SEC in 2017; led the team with nine pass breakups. His matchup with Calvin Ridley should be one of the best on Monday night. If he plays well, it could catch the attention of the 49ers' scouts, who should be emphasizing the cornerback position this offseason.
Javon Wims, WR (#6) - The senior didn’t put up great numbers, but when you factor in how dependent Georgia is with the run, his 44-704-7 looks a lot better. Wims, 6-foot-4, showed up big against Oklahoma in the semis with six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown, and thrives high-pointing the ball as UGA's best outside weapon. For an offense that doesn't have any size at wide receiver, Wims could be an intriguing Day 3 option for the 49ers.
Alabama Crimson Tide
Calvin Ridley, WR (#3) - Burst onto the scene as a freshman with 87 receptions, but has seen a decline in production in his sophomore and now junior year. Ridley is fluid, quick and a great route runner Alabama features outside and in the slot. He needs to gain weight and get in the weight room. It’ll be interesting to see if Kirby Smart challenges him at the line; pro comp - Stefon Diggs (Vikings).
Damien Harris, RB (#34) - Coming into the season, Bo Scarbrough was expected to be the lead back for the Crimson Tide. After Harris showed up to camp faster and quicker (thanks to getting rid of Honey Buns from his diet), he took over and rushed for 983 yards at 7.6 yards per carry. Not the most explosive player, he is consistent and has good acceleration.
Bo Scarbrough, RB (#9) - Very talented, big back with injury history; dominated last year’s semi-final and championship game (35 rushes for 273 yards, four TDs); regressed behind Harris in 2017 to finish with 120-573-8. Scarbrough is a punishing back that can operate within the gamut of the 49ers’ rushing attack, which could make him a mid-round possibility.
Minkah Fitzpatrick, DB (#29) - The top defensive back in the draft can play safety, corner and nickel, each to an elite level. Tackles well and coming off semifinal game where he shut down Clemson slot receiver Hunter Renfrow. He would be the dream scenario for the 49ers, but should be long gone by the time John Lynch and Co. are on the clock.
Ronnie Harrison, S (#15) - Physical box safety unheralded due to Minkah Fitzpatrick. He plays reckless at times but he can hit with the best of them. Harrison piled up 170 tackles in 41 career games for the Tide, and also had seven interceptions. If the 49ers allow Eric Reid to walk, he would bring good competition to Jaquiski Tartt.
Levi Wallace, CB (#39) - Former walk-on has seemingly come out of nowhere to be on scouts’ radars. He plays exclusively on the left side and isn’t the strongest, but he covers very well off of press. Wallace had 15 breakups this year, none bigger than the pick-six deflection against Clemson last week. As an upward-trending player, the 49ers could look to take him on.
Rashaan Evans, LB (#32) - Tenacious linebacker for the Tide, a key piece that helped keep their defense elite after seeing seven starters leave for the NFL, three of which went in the first round in 2017. Evans had 66 tackles, 11.5 for a loss, six sacks, three pass deflections, a fumble and a recovery as a senior this past season. The 49ers could choose to replace Brock Coyle, and put Evans next to Foster again, who played together at both Alabama and Auburn High School.
Anthony Averett, CB (#28) - Championship sprinter and long jumper in high school, and standing at 6-foot even, Averett profiles as a tall corner with great speed. He earned a starting role with the Tide as a redshirt junior, notching team-highs in tackles vs. USC and pass breakups vs. Ole Miss in 2017. He also earned defensive player of the week honors from the Bama coaching staff for his performance against Washington. Averett would be a logical addition to the 49ers' secondary.
Da'Shawn Hand, DL (#9) - A unanimous five-star prospect coming out of high school, Hand has been a regular in the Alabama line rotation since he was a freshman in 2014. His role has only grown since then, and he's been a key factor to the stability of the defensive front over their recent years of NFL turnover. If a 49er, he would likely play the big end spot. But with his early-round grade and the presence of DeForest Buckner, the fit with the 49ers might not be there.
Ross Pierschbacher, OL (#71) - Three-year starter for the Tide can play both center and guard (LG). Not sexy but technically sound, is great in the run game and controlled last week’s matchup against Clemson behemoth DT Dexter Lawrence. The 49ers, who will likely refresh the interior line group in the offseason, could look at Pierschbacher.
Prediction: Injuries to Lester Cotton (guard) and Anfernee Jennings (OLB) are too much to overcome for Alabama. Linebackers Lorenzo Carter and Roquon Smith will look to shut down the Bama running game and put the game on Jalen Hurts. Georgia 27-21.
Media courtesy Getty Images, TNS