Early favorites for 49ers' second-round selection in 2018 NFL Draft

The 49ers currently hold the 59th overall pick in the 2018 draft, which is Pick 27 in the second round.

While it's not their top-10 pick, it's still a pick they have to hit on in order to significantly add to what they are building. Because of its value, and what history shows you can get in that range, nailing the first- and second-round picks are essential to a strong draft class.

Fortunately, GM John Lynch can go in a number of directions, allowing him to submit a card for the best player available at the time.

So let's look at the options.

Now, you may have some of these players pegged as first-rounders, and many of them rightfully are, but there will be more than 32 Day 1 talents in the 2018 class, pushing desirable players to the second day. That's typically how it goes, and that's why teams are expected to land effective starters at almost any position in the second round.

After evaluating who may slide, the following six players were chosen based on caliber, team need, scheme compatibility, tendencies the 49ers' regime revealed in last year's draft, and what we learned the coaching staff likes in its players, as described by them in press conferences and shown by signings/releases.

D.J. Moore, WR, Maryland

James Washington, Calvin Ridley and Courtland Sutton are likely first-rounders, but one of the other explosive playmakers at wide receiver this year is Moore. The junior receiver had 80 catches for 1,033 receiving yards and eight scores in his final year. Moore is fast, elusive, strong on his routes and aggressive at the catch point. He fits the mold of a Shanahan receiver, and Jimmy Garoppolo can help him reach his ceiling as a game-breaking WR1.

Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama

Every year the Tide has a madman in the middle. Two seasons ago it was Reuben Foster. And last year it was Evans, who just so happened to be a teammate of Foster’s going back to high school in Auburn, Alabama. In 12 games as a senior, and finally as the leader on defense, Evans racked up 74 tackles, 13.0 of which were for a loss, and six sacks. He was an All-SEC selection and became a National Champion for a second time. If he falls to Round 2, the 49ers could go back to Nick Saban’s well and add Evans as a Sam or Will linebacker, with some pass rush ability.

Sony Michel, RB, Georgia

It’s a very real possibility Michel is available on Day 2 because he’s still, in the eyes of most, the fourth-best RB in a deep class. That said, due to their positional need, their capital, the presence of Kyle Shanahan, and aggressive nature in the draft, the 49ers have to be among the favorites to trade up for him if he does indeed fall to the second round. A four-year role player on the Bulldogs offense, Michel totaled 1,300+ yards from scrimmage twice. He also scored 39 career touchdowns. If the 49ers build a committee, Michel can be its featured all-purpose weapon, a la Devonta Freeman.

Mason Cole, C, Michigan

Billy Price could just as easily be an option here as well, but the unanimous All-American from Ohio State may wind up going in the first round. Cole, however, is close in caliber and may slide since he played out of position in his final year in 2017, starting at left tackle instead of center. During the Senior Bowl, Cole was back snapping the ball and looked awfully sharp. The three-time All-Big Ten honoree could be a potential replacement for Daniel Kilgore if he leaves in free agency and the 49ers aren’t able to sign any other quality centers.

Hercules Mata’afa, EDGE, Washington State

Despite three consecutive first-round investments, the 49ers don’t have any speed on the D-line, which makes a Leo-powered defensive front look hollow and especially ineffective on passing downs. It is very apparent the unit is still incomplete. Mata’afa, the AP Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, looks like the fix to that very problem. He’s built like a linebacker but primarily played interior defensive line for the Cougars. And even playing a more strength-reliant technique, it was his explosive get-off that made Mata’afa stand out. His blend of traits—instincts, power, leverage, violent hand usage, speed and quickness—could make for a dominant NFL edge. Mata'afa has the numbers to back it up, too, entering the pros off a junior season in which he posted 46 tackles, 22.5 tackles for loss and 10.5 sacks (11 games).

Isaiah Wynn, OL, Georgia

The best on a terrific O-line, Wynn was integral to the success of Nick Chubb and Sony Michel, and provided Jake Fromm with time to operate in the pocket, as the team finished 11-1 in the regular season and went on to a national title game against Bama. At 6-foot-2, Wynn’s a short tackle, but was a dominant one for Georgia. At the next level, he’ll kick inside, where Wynn’s combination of strength and athleticism could see him become a Pro Bowl caliber guard. Since there’s a chance Quenton Nelson isn’t around at No. 9 or 10, guard may still be a need on Day 2 of the draft. If that happens, Wynn may be high on the 49ers’ board.

Media courtesy USA Today Sports Images, 24/7 Sports, Washington State Athletics, John Paul Van Wert

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