As a lifelong 49ers fan, I became a fan of the NFL draft because of the team. Most of that is because they were so bad for most of my childhood that the only time you could get excited about them was during the draft, where they were constantly in the top half of the first round. The state of the franchise is luckily much better now than it was back then and while I don’t think fans truly realize how good we have it, it doesn’t mean the roster is perfect. Without much cap room, the team needs to nail this draft and fill a few needs, but also plan for the future.
Round 2, Pick 61- Cole Strange, Chattanooga IOL
The man that 49ers Twitter loves makes too much sense at this spot. Sure, the team might be able to trade down or see if he’s available at pick 96, but I think Strange is worth it at this point. He’s likely to compete for a starting spot at either guard position and he offers some versatility at center if need be. His athleticism is perfect for the zone running scheme, but he has a certain nastiness and attitude when he plays that I absolutely love. The 49ers have built a team around physical players and Strange definitely brings that to the field.
Also considered: Nick Cross, Kerby Joseph, Dylan Parham, Darrian Kinnard
Round 3, Pick 93- Jeremy Ruckert, Ohio State TE
A tight end in the third round? Am I crazy? Maybe, but maybe not. It’s no secret that Shanahan has flirted with the idea of acquiring a second tight end. In fact, years ago the team was willing to pay big money for Austin Hooper before he elected to sign with the Browns. Then, he brought in Jordan Reed in 2020, but neither he nor Kittle could stay healthy that year. Ruckert is a good athlete who can also block pretty well. He also does a lot of damage off of play-action, something the 49ers do better than anyone else. Tight end might not be a need, but it would be what unlocks the 49ers offense.
Also considered: Tyrese Robinson, Cam Jurgens, Coby Bryant, Akayleb Evans
Round 3, Pick 105- Damarri Mathis, Pittsburgh CB/S
You knock out two birds with one stone on this pick. Mathis played corner back in college, but in the pros figures to play a lot more safety. Also, he should be able to develop into a very good slot corner. The 49ers have a need at both positions, which should make Mathis a target for them. I do worry a bit about Mathis being able to produce as a rookie and the team does need a slot corner and strong safety for 2022, but I have faith in Demeco Ryans putting him in the right spot to succeed. At the very least, Mathis should be a special teams stud, an area that has seen a lot of attention this offseason.
Also considered: Marcus Jones, Jelani Woods
Round 4, Pick 134- Romeo Doubs, Nevada WR
The most underrated receiver in this class is Doubs. As someone who has watched nearly every Nevada game the last two years, Doubs stood out. His blend of size and speed would make him unique in the 49ers receiver room. With Lance as the future, the team will surely look to be more explosive when attacking down the field. Doubs averaged over 17 yards a catch in 2020 and displayed that he could track the ball down the field. He’s likely to be more of a special teamer early in his career, but could develop into a good WR2.
Also considered: Rasheed Walker, Myjai Sanders
Round 5, Pick 172- Amare Barno, Virginia Tech EDGE
Edge is a popular position being mocked for the 49ers, but after a few signings this offseason, I’m not so sure about it being a position they target early. Not counting Dee Ford or Arik Armstead, six edge rushers are viable options to make the roster. At most, they’ll have five active on game days. That being said, most are only under contract through 2022, so the team could look to draft one to develop. Barno is a freak athlete who ran a 4.3 40 at 245 pounds. He is a very raw prospect and needs to get stronger, but Kris Kocurek is a master at developing defensive line talent.
Possible Picks: Kevin Austin Jr., Charlie Kolar
Round 6, Pick 187- Jack Jones, Arizona State CB
The 49ers have typically stayed away from players with off-the-field issues, but it doesn’t mean they don’t take chances on players. Jones is a versatile corner, but would be best suited to play in the slot as a rookie. Personally, I see him as a round three or four talent based on what I’ve seen from his play. We do know that the 49ers will get as good of an evaluation on him as any team due to the relationship between Herm Edwards and John Lynch. If Edwards signs off on Jones, expect to see the 49ers take a chance.
Possible Picks: Noah Elliss
Round 6, Pick 220- Obinna Eze, TCU OT
With Trent Williams and Mike McGlinchey slated to start assuming they are healthy, the team still needs to build up depth at the position. Right now the swing tackles are likely Jaylon Moore and Colton McKivitz, two guys who are better suited at guard. Eze is another elite-level athlete but is incredibly raw. He didn’t start playing football until his senior year in high school and it shows in his technique. He will get bull-rushed too often and probably needs to gain at least fifteen pounds of muscle. He’s a worthy risk at this point in the draft.
Possible Picks: Jalen Wydermyer
Round 6, Pick 221- Max Borghi, Washington State RB
Kyle Shanahan has a fetish with running backs and I would bet that the 49ers draft one this year. It’s just how he operates. However, I think it’s time that they look for a different style of running back. Borghi isn’t a physical runner and while quick, doesn’t show enough burst to be a workhorse back. What he can do is catch the ball though. In his first two seasons under Mike Leach, Borghi has 139 catches. Those numbers went down drastically under a new coaching staff and battling injuries, but he has shown he can get the job done. JaMychal Hasty is the defacto third-down back at the moment but has failed to make an impact. It’s time to bring in some real competition for that role.
Possible Picks- Reggie Roberson Jr., Bailey Zappe
Round 7, Pick 262- Brock Purdy, Iowa State QB
It might be crazy of me to think that the team is actually going to move on from Jimmy Garroppolo, but in the case they do they have to draft a quarterback in the late rounds. In a perfect world, this quarterback would never have to start a game. This isn’t a perfect world. You need someone else besides Nate Sudfeld as a backup option. There’s a reason why Purdy is unlikely to get drafted and it’s because he makes far too many mistakes with the ball. However, before the 2020 season, many considered him a first or second-round pick. At times he’s a pick-six waiting to happen and infuriating to watch. Other times you see the ball placement and mobility that makes you think he can stick around in the NFL.
Possible Picks- Kevin Shaa, EJ Perry, Ty Fryfogle