After trading Pro Bowl defensive tackle Deforest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, the 49ers now hold the 13th overall pick in the 2020 draft.
That puts San Francisco in position to grab an impact player.
General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have desperately tried to address the receiver position since arriving in the Bay Area. They originally brought in placeholders in Pierre Garçon, Marquise Goodwin, and Aldrick Robinson. They’ve spent a ton of draft capital on receivers, selecting Trent Taylor, and using multiple picks to trade up for Dante Pettis. They used a flier on Richie James. The following year they attempted to trade for Odell Beckham. When that didn’t work, they drafted Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd in back to back rounds. And still, there was a void at receiver, so the 49ers used two more draft picks to acquire veteran receiver Emmanuel Sanders. And here we are, another offseason with a ton of uncertainty at the receiver position. This time the 49ers are in position to take a receiver at No. 13 or 31 with high-end talent. If you’ve read anything from me in the past, you know, I don’t care about the size of the receiver, I just like good football players. How does the prospect win in the NFL? And how does his skillset fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense? Well, I’m here to talk about three guys who I feel the 49ers should target at picks 13 or 31.
These are the potential wide receiver targets for the 49ers at pick No. 13, in order.
1. Jerry Jeudy - Alabama
Analysis: Jerry Jeudy is the best receiver in this class. The first thing people will point out is his route running. And for good reason. He plays faster than his 4.45 40 speed he posted at the combine and it shows on almost every route he runs. He threatens cornerbacks vertically with just a few steps and effortlessly breaks off his route. His speed and nuanced route running ability allows him to play at an elite level on the outside or in the slot where he did most of his damage in college. On top of that, his ability to make guys miss after the catch is second to none. It’s almost Barry Sanders-like. For all the good with Jeudy, there is no perfect prospect. One aspect of his game I feel he can improve on his being able to take on contact and still catch the ball. At times, in games I watched, it almost looked like he let contact or potential contact distract him from catching the ball. Fit: Kyle Shanahan likes versatility with his receivers and Jerry Jeudy exemplifies that. Shanahan could use Jeudy as his high volume catch guy. Outside or inside he wins match ups. His speed in which he plays with allows him to not only win underneath but vertically as well. Jeudy is a do-it-all high-level receiver the 49ers have been waiting for and would walk into Santa Clara and be their best receiver from Day 1. The perfect complement to Deebo Samuel. The only question is, will he be there at 13?
2. Henry Ruggs - Alabama
Analysis: Before Ruggs ran a 4.27 40 yard dash at the combine I had him at WR2 right behind teammate Jerry Jeudy. That clearly has not changed. Ruggs is known for his speed and many will compare him to other speedsters that have come out and not been successful. Of course the high-end comp would be Tyreek Hill. Even if he’s DeSean Jackson, I’m sure most would be happy with that. He ran good routes at Alabama. Not great routes to the extent of Jeudy, but when you are that fast cornerbacks have to respect it and usually that helps you get open. He’s a very fluid/twitchy mover. He’s not just a straight line speed guy. Beats press coverage with ease. His best days are ahead of him as far as production go. He shared touches with Jeudy and Devonta Smith who would’ve been a top three receiver in this class in my opinion if he declared. At 5’11” Ruggs isn’t a tiny guy like Tyreek Hill who’s barely 5’8”. He could add a few pounds which would allow him to play stronger, but I never thought that his lack of weight was an issue. Fit: People will say he’s a Marquise Goodwin type guy because of the speed but he’s a much more fluid receiver. Very natural. He can do some of the things Deebo Samuel does as far as touches go on end-a-rounds. His catch and run is incredible. Out runs angles so when he catches that Kyle Shanahan deep crossing route he may very well take it to the house. He should be there at No. 13.
Who I’m out on at 13: Ceedee Lamb - Oklahoma
The thought of Ceedee Lamb is great. This big-time contested catch guy who dominates his opponents and gets crazy yards after catch. But when I put on the all-22 and watch him and see how he wins, I was a bit disappointed.
On the outside he struggled to create separation. Part of it was Oklahoma not running many NFL routes. The other part of it was Lamb struggled to threaten NFL corners vertically. He doesn’t have suddenness or much twitch to his game, which typically would be ok for bigger guys but for someone a shade under 6’2” and 198 pounds, it’s not ideal. Watching Lamb against LSU, he was able to win on a slot fade vs a safety and got good yards after catch on a pick route. They actually set several picks for Lamb that game to free him up from man coverage. I’m not saying Lamb won’t be good at the next level but when I watch him and compare it to other guys skillset coming out, I’d be very hesitant to take him at No. 13.
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