the NFL free agency period has concluded and the league’s focus is now shifting to the NFL Draft in Kansas City. For Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, this will be their seventh draft with the San Francisco 49ers and by far their most low-key. The toll from the Trey Lance and Christian McCaffrey trades leave them without their picks in the first four rounds. They do however have a trio of third-round compensatory picks and eight picks on Day 3, giving them ample opportunity to add talent to their roster.
Free agency brought one big addition in Javon Hargrave, effectively providing the 49ers an impactful star to make up for not having a first round pick, as Charvarius Ward did last season. None of the 49ers A-list stars left in free agency, but key supporting players did go notably on both the offensive and defensive lines. The 49ers don’t need to add more star names, but they do need to replenish depth and add productive players to their roster. Here we look at what they might do at the draft:
3rd Round, Pick 99 – Christopher Smith (S, Georgia)
The 49ers lost Jimmie Ward in free agency and although they re-signed veteran Tashaun Gipson to a one-year deal, there is a need to find a long-term solution at free safety. Christopher Smith is undersized, but has the athletic profile the 49ers covert and he excelled at Georgia in a deep safety role. Smith showed the coverage smarts more akin to Ward than Gipson playing deep and despite his small frame he graded well as a run defender. This doesn’t look to be the deepest safety class, so if the 49ers are to move for one, they will have to do so Day 2 and may even need to trade up to acquire their man.
3rd Round, Pick 101- Braedan Daniels (OT, Utah)
Mike McGlinchey never quite lived up to his billing as a top ten pick, but his departure does leave the 49ers light at offensive tackle. Colton McKivitz is the favorite to take McGlinchey’s right tackle spot, having shown promise as a swing tackle. However, the 49ers need competition for McKivitz and at the very least a backup to All-Pro Trent Williams. Braedan Daniels tested impressively at the Scouting Combine and didn’t allow a sack in his final season at Utah. Daniels will need some polishing, but he is a fit for Kyle Shanahan’s zone heavy scheme.
3rd Round, Pick 102- Isaiah McGuire (DE, Missouri)
Having addressed weaknesses with their first two picks, the 49ers could look to replenish strength by adding to their defensive line with their third selection. Charles Omenihu and Samson Ebukam both departed in free agency and although the team have big plans for last year’s top pick Drake Jackson, there is a need to add a rotational edge rusher to a strong group. McGuire has ideal size and shape and posted seven sacks as a senior. McGuire’s athletic testing at the Combine was impressive and the depth of the edge class could push him into the 49ers’ range.
5th Round, Pick 155- Dorian Williams (LB, Tulane)
The 49ers have an excellent linebacking group with Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw currently on second contracts, but they lost Azeez Al-Shaair in free agency. Dorian Williams was a team captain and three-year starter at Tulane who excelled in pass coverage in his senior year. Williams has the speed the 49ers love, even if he lacks the size of a prototype linebacker. Williams could compete immediately with Oren Burks and Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles for the third linebacker slot and would be a core special teamer from day one.
5th Round, Pick 164- Davis Allen (TE, Clemson)
The 49ers have lacked a TE2 to pair with George Kittle for years and while the perennial Pro-Bowl talent is still a key player, he is getting older and a second pass-catching tight end to share the workload should be sought. Davis Allen was both a productive receiver and excellent blocker at Clemson, the style of tight end Shanahan prefers to the outright pass-catcher. Allen doesn’t have Kittle’s yards after the catch profile, but he offers a deep threat and has the ball skills to be a receiving threat.
5th Round, Pick 173- Brodric Martin (DT, Western Kentucky)
Javon Hargrave was a coupe in free agency on the interior defensive line. However, he’s not noted as a run defender and the 49ers struggled to replace nose tackle DJ Jones who departed last offseason. Brodric Martin proved both a reliable run defender and pass rusher, showing consistent improvement over his career at Western Kentucky. The 330-pound defender could be a useful, if unflashy addition in base defense.
6th Round, Pick 216- Jake Moody (K, Michigan)
Despite executing a low-end trade for Zane Gonzalez, the 49ers are likely to draft a kicker. The question is when do the special teamers start coming off the board, considering this isn’t the strongest kicking class. Jake Moody proved highly reliable inside of 40 yards and did nail a 59-yard kick in a National Semifinal.
7th Round, Pick 222- Juice Scruggs (C, Penn State)
Center Jake Brendel proved a pleasant surprise last season and was rewarded with a long-term contract extension. However, Brendel is unlikely to be more than a league average player, so investing in a young prospect would be wise. Juice Scruggs proved to be a consistent starter at Penn State where he also served as a team captain. He could compete for a start at right guard straight away or sit and learn the role behind Brendel.
7th Round, Pick 247- Mohamed Ibrahim (RB, Minnesota)
The 49ers have a habit of hitting on running backs very late or undrafted (Elijah Mitchell, Matt Breida, and Jeff Wilson for example). The running back room is currently stacked, but the 49ers also have a habit of losing running backs to injury, so adding another preferably with a different skill set to McCaffrey and Mitchell would be sensible. Mohamed Ibrahim doesn’t have burning speed, but he is a tough runner who added 1,100 yards after contact in a blockbuster senior year that saw him rush for 1,675 yards and 20 touchdowns. Ibrahim looks a fit for Shanahan’s running game and brings a different red zone threat.
7th Round, Pick 253- Carrington Valentine (CB, Kentucky)
Adding a traits-based prospect late is a good way to go late in the seventh round. Carrington Valentine has the ideal frame to succeed as a cornerback in the NFL, but remains a very raw talent. Valentine would add depth at cornerback and contribute immediately on special teams.
7th Round, Pick 255- Hunter Luepke (FB, North Dakota)
Kyle Juszczyk is the best fullback in the NFL, but he’ll be 32 when the season starts and the 49ers may invest in a long-term successor. A former teammate of Trey Lance at North Dakota State, Luepke excelled in his college career. Luepke has rare explosiveness for a fullback and although he won’t beat out Juszczyk this season, he could be drafted to spend his rookie season learning on the practice squad.