As the proud owners of two first-round picks, the San Francisco 49ers will be very busy Thursday night. Chances are, one of, if not both, of their two first-round picks will be traded away. On the off chance that the 49ers keep the 31st pick, here are five players that they may target with it.
The primary position groups that the 49ers will likely target in the early rounds of the draft are wide receiver, defensive back, and defensive line. All signs point to GM John Lynch selecting a wide receiver at some point in the first two rounds — whether it be with one of San Francisco’s two first-round picks, or with a second-rounder acquired in a trade.
Brandon Aiyuk – WR Arizona State
Not to alarm anybody but Brandon Aiyuk reminds me a bit (just a smidge) of current 49ers wide receiver Dante Pettis, except Aiyuk is probably what Kyle Shanahan wishes Pettis would have developed into. He reminds me of Pettis because of his super twitchy play style and his dominance in the return game. Having said that, you probably don’t need to worry about him following the footprints that Pettis left on his path directly into Shanahan’s dog house.
Weight: 205 pounds
Arm length: 33 1/2 inches
Hand size: 9 3/4 inches
40-yard dash: 4.5 seconds
Vertical jump: 40.0 inches
Aiyuk is a big-play threat, who is tough and well-balanced as a receiver. He’s a yards-after-catch monster who certainly plays bigger than his frame.
Pro’s: Big-play ability, YAC ability, Great in the return game, Physical, Decent hands
Con’s: Struggles against press coverage, Small sample size, Needs to clean up route-running
Rank at WR position: Anywhere from 6th- to 8th-best receiver in the draft.
A.J. Terrell – CB, Clemson
The cornerback position is an important position of need for the 49ers. They have starters at both outside corner positions already, but they need to plan for a future without Richard Sherman.
One of the most fundamentally sound cornerback prospects in the draft, A.J. Terrell offers the 49ers a potential corner who (with some development) can be a stud for years to come.
Weight: 195 pounds
Arm length: 31 1/4 inches
Hand size: 9″
40-yard dash: 4.42 seconds
Vertical jump: 34.5 inches
What makes Terrell so fundamentally sound is the great footwork, very quick feet, and overall very smooth style of play. He’s patient, smart and sticky against receivers.
Pro’s: Smooth hips, Great footwork, Can mimic wide receiver’s, Solid in both man and zone coverage, good instincts.
Con’s: Needs fine-tuning with press coverage, Inconsistent tackler, Lack of strength, Too handsy downfield
Rank at CB position: Anywhere from 3rd- to 5th-best corner in the draft.
Ross Blacklock – IDL, TCU
Just like the wide receiver position, the departure of a veteran star has left the 49ers with a less-than-ideal situation on the defensive line. After the trade of DeForest Buckner, the 49ers are left with Arik Armstead as the lone true pass-rush threat from the interior of the defensive line.
TCU defensive lineman Ross Blacklock has been mocked to the 49ers at or around pick 31 for quite some time. Blacklock has a lot of Buckner qualities in him, he has the size, juice and the motor to bully past lineman.
Weight: 290 pounds
Arm length: 32 3/8 inches
Hand size: 9 3/4 inches
40-yard dash: 4.9 seconds
Blacklock is slippery for his size, he has plenty of pass-rush moves to get past lineman. He’s flexible and strong enough to defend multiple gaps on the defensive line. He has a very quick first step, and is a solid tackler up the middle.
Pro’s: High motor, Very competitive, Large radius for tackling and beating blockers, Great awareness.
Con’s: Injury history (Achilles in 2018), Processing the run, Light on his feet which causes him to get knocked around up the middle.
Rank at IDL position: Anywhere from 3rd- to 5th-best interior defensive lineman in the draft.
Cesar Ruiz – IOL, Michigan
Interior offensive lineman? Why not a tackle? It’s very likely that the 49ers use one of their picks on a tackle who will replace Joe Staley. Drafting a player like Cesar Ruiz will offer them something different than a future tackle. Ruiz has experience at both guard and center, and that kind of versatility could help the 49ers if they were to find themselves in a pinch on the offensive line. Not only that, but the 49ers were rather inconsistent blocking up the middle in 2019.
Ruiz is a player with great strength and nice athleticism. He has a solid, balanced frame, and is very reliable in terms of health and availability.
Weight: 307 pounds
Arm length: 33 1/8 inches
Hand size: 11″
40-yard dash: 5.08 seconds
Ruiz is more on the raw side as a prospect. He has some very impressive tools that can allow him to develop into a starting offensive lineman for a long time. His speed and athleticism, paired with his strength and competitive play style highlight his tape.
Pro’s: Fast, Strong, Balanced frame, Can move just about anyone in his way, Reliable, Good awareness.
Con’s: Short arms, Needs to develop technique, Will not be able to bully people like he’s used to, He will likely need to cut weight in the NFL.
Rank at IOL position: Anywhere from 1st- to 3rd-best interior offensive lineman in the draft
Kyle Duggar – S, Lenoir-Rhyne
I’ll be honest, I had zero clue where Lenoir-Rhyne University was. Apparently it’s located in Hickory, North Carolina. You learn something new every day.
What I do know, though, is that safety Kyle Duggar has impressed so much that he’s being discussed as a late-first-round, early-second-round pick. His speed and size are eye-popping, and his awareness and versatility is something any defense would love.
Weight: 217 pounds
Arm length: 32 7/8 inches
Hand size: 10 3/9 inches
40-yard dash: 4.49 seconds
Vertical jump: 42 inches
Duggar just might be my draft crush this year. Coming from a small school that most people don’t know exists may play a part in the lack of hype, but the physical traits and the tape he has put together is starting to open peoples eyes.
He’s explosive, he’s fast, and he’s got a lot of range. He has shown potential in all types of coverages, and has a lot of room to grow. Oh, and when he hits you, he hits you very hard. It’s very fun to watch.
Pro’s: Fast, Explosive, Lots of range, Hard-hitting, Athletically gifted, Can cover receivers int he slot or tight ends, Solid as a punt-returner.
Con’s: Playing at a small school he needs to prove that he can compete with better talent, Hips aren’t very fluid, Needs to improve footwork, Reacts instead of using his instincts.
Rank at S position: Probably the 3rd- or 4th-best safety in the draft