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49ers mock drafts: Still between two at No. 2, but one candidate is edging the other

George Kittle speaks after 49ers end season with loss to Rams

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle speaks after the team lost 48-32 to the Los Angeles Rams.
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San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle speaks after the team lost 48-32 to the Los Angeles Rams.

Defense is the way to go for the 49ers. At least that’s what a handful of draft analysts are saying.

In a roundup of mock drafts last week, it was a two-man race between Kentucky edge Josh Allen and Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams.

That race hasn’t changed, but it is leaning more toward one candidate.

Will one of them have his named called when the three-day NFL draft kicks off April 25 in Nashville, Tenn.? That remains to be seen.

Here’s a sampling of the latest mocks for the No. 2 pick:

NFL.com

Updated Feb. 12

The league’s official website provides mock drafts from five analysts: Bucky Brooks, Maurice Jones-Drew, Daniel Jeremiah, Chad Reuter and Lance Zierlein. Jones-Drew has most recently checked in, tabbing Kentucky edge Josh Allen as San Francisco’s pick.

According to NFL.com, Allen is a “true hybrid linebacker with elite physical traits who has the ability to float between coverage and pass rush duties. ... He’s fine-tuned a couple of go-to rush moves but will need to continue to diversify his rush portfolio as a pro.”

Jones-Drew: “The 49ers get the kind of edge rusher they need. Another first-rounder gives them one of the best young D-line units in the league.”

CBS Sports

Updated Feb. 13

CBS Sports has doubled its analyst count from last week. The site has mocks from six men: Will Brinson, Jared Dubin, Pete Prisco, Chris Trapasso, R.J. White and Ryan Wilson. The most recent post comes from Dubin, who also has Allen going to the 49ers.

Dubin: “Kyle Shanahan can turn pretty much any pieces into a good offense, but his team badly needs help pressuring the edge on the other side of the ball. Enter Allen, who provides something much different than any of the 49ers’ recent defensive-line draft picks and makes for a perfect fit in defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s system.”

U-T San Diego

Updated Feb. 13

Draft analyst Eddie Brown keeps the Allen train going.

Brown: “The 49ers lack a consistent pass rush despite using so much recent draft capital on the defensive line. Allen tied for sixth nationally with 21.5 tackles for loss and ranked second in the FBS in both sacks (17) and forced fumbles (five). He’s capable of making a Khalil Mack-like jump at the next level.”

Walter Football

Updated Feb. 13

Walter Cherepinsky is a frequent updater on his mocks, but his selection for the 49ers hasn’t changed from last week.

He has Alabama defensive lineman Quinnen Williams as a good fit for the red and gold. According to his draft profile on NFL.com, “Williams is an instant starter with Pro Bowl potential. ... His play strength is good, but his lack of mass and length will show up at times against NFL competition.”

Cherepinsky: “It would be ideal for the 49ers to trade down with a team that needs a quarterback. Quinnen Williams is the best player available, but the 49ers aren’t filling a need with him. That said, he’s the likely pick if there’s no deal, as San Francisco can’t pass up on someone as talented as him. Williams had a breakout performance this season. ... Williams is now a likely top-three selection.”

Bleacher Report

Updated Feb. 15

NFL writer Kristopher Knox offers his first-round list, but doesn’t go into detail on the selections. For now, he writes that “the draft picture can only be based on what players have put on film, a few college all-star practices and recent developments.”

He also has Allen as the 49ers’ pick.

ESPN+

Not recently updated

Longtime ESPN analysts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. haven’t recently updated their mocks. Since McShay’s was published in this roundup last week, to give a different take, let’s go back to Jan. 17, when Kiper last posted. He also had San Francisco selecting Allen.

Kiper: “The 49ers took defensive linemen in the first round in three straight years (2015 to ‘17), but DeForest Buckner is the only true star of the group. And none of those picks has the edge-rushing potential of Allen, who racked up 17 sacks for the Wildcats this season. If you’re talking about pure pass-rushing ability, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound Allen is right up there with (Ohio State’s Nick) Bosa. San Francisco needs to add offensive weapons this offseason, but none is worth taking this high.”

USA Today

Not recently updated

Draft analyst Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz also hasn’t updated his mock in the last week. He also liked Williams as San Francisco’s choice when he last posted Feb. 5.

Middlehurst-Schwartz: “When general manager John Lynch held the No. 2 overall selection in 2017, an arms race for quarterbacks helped him swing a deal with Chicago to move back one slot and bolster his draft capital. A similar bidding war this year for passers might be beneficial for San Francisco, as the defense has several areas that need to be addressed. Should the 49ers stay put, their best move might be to grab Williams, who built a strong case for the title of college football’s most dominant defender last year with his formidable strength and surprising quickness.”

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Noel Harris is a sports reporter for The Sacramento Bee, with a focus on the Kings. He’s been in professional journalism for more than 18 years. His roles have included sports editor at The Modesto Bee and news editor at two smaller California newspapers, as well as online producer and copy editor.

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