After the San Francisco 49ers chose Tyrion Davis-Price at No. 93 overall in the NFL Draft, along came the reviews…some being mixed.
There were fans who praised the drafting of a physical downhill runner who played Southeastern Conference (SEC) football. Pro Football Focus, however, called him a “below average” pick. ESPN 49ers reporter Nick Wagoner labeled the move a “head scratcher” in his review. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper called the LSU Tigers 1,000-yard rusher his 13th best rusher and said “there were several better backs available.”
There was one man, however, on Wednesday, May 4 who praised the pick the 49ers made with NBC Sports Bay Area columnist Matt Maiocco on “49ers Talk.” He not only knows Davis-Price well, but won three Super Bowls toting the rock.
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Ex-Patriots RB Loves Pick
Kevin Faulk, who won a trio of Super Bowl rings with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots during their early 2000s run, got the chance to turn the 230-pound Davis-Price into a violent powerhouse runner down in the Bayou as his running backs coach.
Faulk has zero issue with the Tiger going that high — saying to the longtime columnist that his past pupil has a student of the game trait to him and is an ideal fit for what head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to do.
“They got somebody who’s willing to learn, ready to learn and still has a lot more to learn,” Faulk said on 49ers Talk. “I think he went to the right offense to get that fit. It’s going to be a little different for him, but I think he’s going to adjust to it.”
Perhaps among the reasons why TDP was considered a low valued pick was his lack of producing 1,000-yard seasons in Baton Rouge. He only produced one in his three seasons of action: The 1,003 yards he posted in his final season in Death Valley. He also only scored 15 touchdowns across those three campaigns according to Sports Reference.
One notable back he saw carry most of the load during his LSU career: Future 2020 first rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rumbled his way to 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns through the land attack. Davis-Price had a limited amount of carries when he waited his turn.
“When he did get those reps, he produced in those areas,” Faulk said.
There was additionally the weight questions, with Davis-Price carrying a rather thick build when taking on the SEC gauntlet.
“He thought he had to be thicker to take on that pounding, those SEC linebackers,” Faulk said. “But like I told him, if you’re explosive, it doesn’t matter how thick you are because you’re going to run through guys.”
Turns out TDP ran a 4.48 40-yard dash time while carrying that frame. Lance Zierlein of nfl.com wrote that he was a “Big, athletic back offering an enticing blend of size and explosiveness to go with an SEC pedigree,” in his draft evaluation.
Faulk Revealed Rare Attributes Davis-Price Has
While his game has the appearance of a thundering, pads crushing inside runner on short yardage situations, Faulk said that the 49ers’ third rounder has the kind of traits that mimics an elusive backfield option.
“He has smaller-back attributes — jump-cutting, flowing through the hole after the jump-cut. He has those attributes,” Faulk said. “He just has to understand that he has to stay consistent with his weight and maintain that focus.”
Despite the ones scratching their heads at how high the 49ers took him, plus with the ‘Niners having a deep backfield already with 2021 rookies Trey Sermon and Elijah Mitchell plus having Jeff Wilson and Deebo Samuel taking handoffs, how does Faulk see Davis-Price fitting in through a crowded backfield?
“I think he fits in well,” Faulk said. “I think he fits in with the other guys they have there, especially Elijah. I just think those two guys will complement each other real well.”
49ers GM Spoke on Pick
General manager John Lynch was a major reason why Davis-Price became a 49er.
Lynch told the Bay Area media that Davis-Price’s punishing runner along with his other attributes got the ‘Niners to become attached to him — and make him one of their first three picks.
“Tyrion is a guy we’re very fond of,” Lynch told the Bay Area media on April 29. “[He] has a style that can best be described as physical and tough, and he’s also got some speed to go with that package. When you can add toughness and speed, he’s in a bigger package.”