Chris Borland was drafted by the San Francisco with the 13th pick (77th overall) in the third round of the 2014 NFL Draft. Borland is the first Wisconsin linebacker drafted since O'Brien Schofield went to the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round in 2010.
Arguably the most storied linebacker in Badgers history, Borland entered the draft after compiling 420 tackles, sixth-most in UW history. The Westerville, Ohio, native also leaves Wisconsin fifth in solo tackles (234), fourth in tackles for loss (50.0) and tied for eighth in sacks (17). Borland set the Big Ten record with 15 career forced fumbles, second-most in FBS history.
Aside from his trademark toughness and power tackling, the Kettering, Ohio, native had some of the best field awareness of any linebacker in college football over the past two or three years. Lingering injurers were one of his main pre-draft knocks, aside from his height (5'11) -- one team even reportedly removed Borland from its board before the draft due to shoulder concerns.
"I thought he should have been a late-one, early- to mid-two, [pick]" draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. said on ESPN's broadcast. "I know there were concerns about his shoulder. I know he's under 6 feet. I know he has short arms. But you talk about intensity, you talk about instinct, production; behind the line of scrimmage, around the line of scrimmage, down the field in coverage; this kid will light you up.
"He is a guy who, really, I thought production-wise and consistency-wise, there's not a defensive player in college football that's better than Chris Borland. The 49ers just keep taking football player after football player. And now you get a guy, an inside linebacker, who can get the job done at a high level."
Kiper's draft partner on ESPN, Todd McShay, also liked the pick.
"The bottom line is he's a great football player because of his instincts and his toughness," McShay said. "I maybe saw him in six or seven tapes. I can probably count on one hand how many tackles he missed. Yes, he's got short arms. But it doesn't matter because he makes tackles and he gets off of blocks."
Former Indianapolis Colts general manager Bill Polian said on the broadcast that Borland was an "OK pick" for the 49ers.
"He's lacking a little bit on the athletic side," Polian said. "In a 3-4 where he can just plug and play, that's kind of OK. [In a 4-3], [he's] not a fit at all because the speed and the lateral movement isn't what you want."
Still, many draft experts considered Borland a fringe first-round prospect. Pair him with Patrick Willis, NaVorro Bowman and possibly Aldon Smith in the 49ers' group of linebackers? Oh man.
Regardless, if Borland gets a shot to crack the 49ers' depth chart, fans could very well see more of this before long: