Check out the top three prospects the 49ers could select in the 2019 NFL Draft
The 2019 NFL Draft is finally here after months of speculation, analysis and scorching takes from all angles of the internet.
Here, we’re going to finish our pre-draft coverage by putting together two four-round mock drafts for the San Francisco 49ers. The first is my armchair GM take on what the team should do. The second is what I think the 49ers will actually do with their first four selections.
We’ll use The Draft Network’s simulator tool to run our projections. And there will be no trades for this exercise, although it’s likely the 49ers maneuver around the board to acquire more picks after entering the draft with just six. Let’s get to it!
Round 1 (No. 2 overall)
My pick: Nick Bosa, DE, Ohio State
Surprise! The 49ers find their bookend to new acquisition Dee Ford on the defensive line, surrounding budding star DeForest Buckner with two potential double-digit sack artists on the outside. Bosa is a three-down player who could play either “big end” or “Leo” in base downs while rushing the passer from the edge in sub packages. Bosa has been the apple of 49ers fans’ eyes for a calendar year — and they might finally get their man despite San Francisco winning games last season to cost them the No. 1 selection.
What the 49ers will do: Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama
OK, I need to come clean. I’m picking Williams here for the sake of comparing him to Bosa. I expect the 49ers to end up with Bosa, assuming quarterback Kyler Murray goes first to Arizona. Still, Williams would be a justifiable pick. Many evaluators believe he’s a better prospect than Bosa; plus, he doesn’t come with questions about his injury history and social media habits. Williams might not be an ideal fit, given the 49ers already have Buckner, Arik Armstead and Solomon Thomas. But Armstead is unsigned beyond the coming season and Thomas hasn’t shown enough in his two seasons. And if general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan don’t want to dole out a nine-figure contract to Buckner at some point, they would have his replacement.
Round 2 (No. 36 overall)
My pick: Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
There might not be a better fit at receiver than Samuel for Shanahan. He’s an excellent route runner, he’s a menace after the catch, and he lacks size at 5-foot-11 (Kendrick Bourne has been the team’s tallest wideout at 6-1 while Shanahan has long professed movement skills are more important than height). Shanahan got an up-close look at Samuel at the Senior Bowl, where he regularly dusted corners at the line of scrimmage with his change-of-direction skills. An added bonus, Samuel offers value as a returner and plays with the anger of a running back. He should start right away to replace Pierre Garçon as the “Z” receiver, allowing San Francisco to build around him and last year’s second-round pick, Dante Pettis.
What the 49ers will do: Cody Ford, T, Oklahoma
All the prognosticators this time last year had San Francisco going defense with their first-round pick. But they wound up taking Notre Dame’s Mike McGlinchey because they weren’t enamored with the idea of paying Trent Brown big money to be their long-term right tackle. Here, the 49ers find Joe Staley’s eventual replacement in Ford, who could play guard until Staley retires. Yes, they have more immediate needs at safety, receiver and cornerback, but this is a deep-enough class that they could be addressed later. San Francisco would rather find Staley’s replacement here than use a first-round pick in 2020 or give out massive money to an adequate free agent next spring. Plus, Ford (6-4, 329) would be a strong value at No. 36. He’ll have time to drop weight and improve his mobility before moving to tackle.
Round 3 (No. 67 overall)
My pick: Juan Thornhill, S, Virginia
The 49ers set an NFL record with just two interceptions last season, so why not draft a free safety that had 13 in three seasons as a starter for the Cavaliers? He played all over the field as an upperclassman, which could help San Francisco diversify its schemes if it wants to expand outside its typical “Cover 3” techniques. Thornhill (6-0, 205) doesn’t have great size, but size isn’t a requirement for a free safety. He makes up for his stature with supreme athleticism. His 44-inch vertical jump and 141-inch broad jump rank in the 99th percentile at his position, which showed as he broke up 39 passes over 36 college starts. Thornhill would push Jimmie Ward and Adrian Colbert for a starting job from the jump. If not, he’s an ideal special-teams player.
What the 49ers will do: Riley Ridley, WR, Georgia
Shanahan clearly doesn’t factor college production much in the middle rounds, which is why he’ll be fine with Ridley’s career-best 570 yards last season. He’s widely considered one of the best route runners in this draft, even if he lacks the ideal measurables (his 4.58 in the 40 and 30.5-inch vertical jump are hardly head turners). Shanahan would likely argue Ridley would have been far more prolific in different surroundings, given his natural feel for the position. He might not be the the same prospect as his brother, Calvin, a first-round pick of the Falcons last season. But many believe Riley’s best football is ahead of him. I’m willing to bet Shanahan feels the same way.
Round 4 (No. 104 overall)
My pick: Miles Boykin, WR, Notre Dame
What’s the best way to guard against Marquise Goodwin’s durability issues? How about finding a long-term replacement who might offer a more diverse skill set? Shanahan has said he wants to dial back the team’s reliance on Goodwin, given he’s been dependable for just one of his six seasons. Boykin (6-3, 220) is one of the best athletes in the entire class and could fit well at “X.” He ran a 4.42 in the 40 and jumped 43 inches in the vertical. He scored eight touchdowns last season and could give the 49ers a much-needed big target in the red zone on top of his ability to stretch the field. He might not be the pure route runner Shanahan wants, but his size and athleticism will be too valuable to pass up in Round 4. The 49ers need another deep target on the outside even if they draft Samuel to be a possession receiver in the second round.
What the 49ers will do: Marquise Blair, S, Utah
The 49ers want an “eraser” on the back end of their secondary and Blair has the aggressive mentality to fit that mold well, though there are questions about his open-field tackling technique (much like free-agent linebacker Kwon Alexander). But he has the range to work at single-high safety and the physical demeanor to be an enforcer in the middle of the field. His coverage snaps-to-target ratio (once every 58.43 snaps) rank first among all safeties in the class, according to Pro Football Focus. The 49ers want toughness on defense, and that’s exactly what Blair brings, even if his game is rough around the edges. He played all over the field in two seasons for the Utes after academic issues out of high school forced him to community college his first two seasons. Blair would have to develop quickly to start over Ward or Colbert, but he has enough upside to start down the road while contributing on special teams early as a pro.