Perfect Picks: San Francisco 49ers
With the NFL Draft approaching we will be looking at each team and evaluating where they need to improve. In this particular series we will run a seven round mock using the Draft Network Mock machine and find the ‘Perfect Picks’ for each franchise.
We will highlight five players that could help each team. This will include a ‘flex’ pick where we give you two ways a potential pick could go depending on how the board falls. All in all you will get picks 1 and 2, a mid round gem and a late round sleeper.
After falling at the final hurdle the 49ers will look to reload for another run as quickly as possible. With some very definitive holes in their roster it will be up to John Lynch to add the pieces that Kyle Shanahan needs to keep this show on the road. Let’s try and give him some suggestions shall we?
Round 1 - Pick 13 - Jerry Jeudy, WR, Alabama
The 49ers had one of the best defenses in football last year. Getting the whole band back together was always going to prove tricky, and they decided to re-up with Arik Armstead and allow DeForest Buckner to leave. Cap constraints meant they couldn’t offer him the $20m+ a year he was after. But Indianapolis could – and this pick is the return the 49ers got for trading him…
Solomon Thomas is a step down in class from Buckner, but as a whole unit that front seven is still fearsome. This allows Lynch to focus on a different area with their new draft capital. Shanahan’s offense took a massive boost with the mid-season trade for Emmanuel Sanders. He did so well in fact that he got a payday from New Orleans in free agency. That leaves the 49ers looking once more for an offensive weapon, and this is the perfect draft to do it.
Sitting at 13 they’re in a prime spot to land one of the top three receivers in this class, and any one of them could fit into Shanahan’s system. Jerry Jeudy falls to them in this mock – he has the best route running in this draft class and will be a productive receiver from day one. He’s a true WR1, something that perhaps San Francisco haven’t had for a while. Whilst not as fast as his ‘Bama teammate Henry Ruggs he still has deep speed. Show him the open field at your peril.
Round 1 - Pick 31 - Noah Igbinoghene, CB, Auburn
Who would have thought that Richard Sherman, a 32 year old corner who looked to have lost half a yard and the 49ers signed to a relatively team-friendly deal, would have been their best corner last year? He wasn’t just good, he had a phenomenal year – PFF graded him as the top corner in the NFL last year throughout the regular season.
The problem comes on the opposite side of the field. Ahkello Witherspoon was an unmitigated disaster on the right side, and was unceremoniously yanked in the playoffs. His replacement Emmanuel Moseley wasn’t much better. The 49ers are in the market for an upgrade, and at the bottom of the first round there will be some interesting names available.
In this mock, they land Noah Igbinoghene. He’s a raw prospect who has only really played the positions for two years, switching from receiver at Auburn, and some might think this is a bit of a reach. But I love his fit in Robert Saleh’s aggressive defense. Noah (you try pronouncing his second name!) is ultra-physical, feisty at the catch point and enough short-area athleticism to jump routes and make plays on the ball. He’s got a ton of upside and is likely to get better as he develops the subtle nuances of the position.
Flex Pick - Pick 31 - Neville Gallimore, IDL, Oklahoma
If Igbinoghene is a little rich in the first, how about replacing the defensive lineman you traded away this offseason? Using the thirteenth pick to fill the shoes of DeForest Buckner would be a foolish move – after all, he’d need to be better than the second team All-Pro otherwise the whole move would be a waste of time. With a guy the calibre of Buckner, that’s a tall ask. However, if it allowed you to get a blue chip receiver AND a potential starter at defensive tackle? Well now you’re talking!
By the end of the first round you’re missing out on Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw, and as expected that was the case in this mock. The second tier of defensive tackles are borderline first round picks, and Neville Gallimore is undoubtedly in that group. Much like Buckner he offers interior pass rush ability. He’s ridiculously quick for a 300lb dude, and has a non-stop motor that will fit in Robert Saleh’s high-pressure unit. He came on leaps and bounds his final season at Oklahoma, and if he continues that trajectory he may be an All-Pro one day himself.
Mid Round Gem - Pick 156 - Markus Bailey, LB, Purdue
Can you even call a 5th round pick a ‘mid-round gem’? I’m not sure. But with no pick between selection 31 and here, this one will have to do.
Luckily, the player himself is well worth the mid-round gem moniker. Markus Bailey’s college career has been beset by injury. He tore his acl as a freshman, and missed most of his final year at Purdue with an injury to the same knee. Without doubt, this pick is predicated on teams coming away with a satisfactory medical report. With the pre-draft process in turmoil due to COVID-19, that scenario is sadly looking less likely.
BUT. If he’s healthy, he’s an absolute steal at this juncture. Bailey oozes physicality. He’s the hardest of hard-hitters, a guy who sets the tone on defense. He possesses superior instincts and is always around the football despite some stiffness and athletic limitations. The guy is captain material and if his health holds up will be in the league for a long long time.
Late Round Sleeper - Pick 210 - Benito Jones, IDL, Ole Miss
Okay. So we’re back to a world where the 49ers select a receiver and a corner in the first round, and still have a big, gaping DeForest Buckner-sized whole in the middle of their defensive line. Now, anyone expecting to replace talent like that with the 210th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft needs to head to the blue tent immediately and enter the concussion protocol. Having said that, it doesn’t mean there isn’t value to be found…
If the 49ers put a premium on replacing the interior pass-rush that they lost with Buckner’s departure, then they need look no further than Benito Jones. As wide as he is tall, this dancing bear is 320lbs but moves like a guy half his weight. He’s a pure gap shooter with remarkable lateral agility, and at the very least he’s going to be a nuisance on every play. He brings little to nothing in run defense duties due to his lack of length and lower body strength, but throw him on the field on 3rd downs and he’ll cause chaos in the backfield.
Draft in full
13. Jerry Jeudy (WR)
31. Noah Igbinoghene (CB)
156. Markus Bailey (LB)
176. Jake Hanson (IOL)
210. Benito Jones (IDL)
217. Shyheim Carter (S)
245. Carter Coughlin (EDGE)
Feature Image Credit: NinersNation.com