ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper's first and second mock draft each had the San Francisco 49ers selecting cornerback Denzel Ward of Ohio State. In his latest mock draft (version 3.0), he still has the 49ers going with a defensive back, but it's not Ward.

Kiper now has the 49ers selecting defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick of Alabama with the ninth-overall pick in April's draft. The mock has four quarterbacks being drafted with the top five picks with players like linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds still available at No. 9.

Kiper wrote the following about the selection of Fitzpatrick:

"San Francisco picked up Richard Sherman before free agency started, but its defensive backfield still isn't set. The 49ers could take the versatile Fitzpatrick and use him in a hybrid safety role in which he plays some slot corner, too. He's a true playmaker with the size and athleticism to play any position in the secondary. General manager John Lynch showed last year that he isn't afraid to make draft-day trades, so this is a spot to watch for teams moving up."

At the NFL Scouting Combine, the 6-foot-1 and 201-pound Fitzpatrick had a 40-time of 4.46 seconds, a vertical jump of 33 inches, a broad jump of 121 inches, and had 14 reps in the bench press.

During the combine, 49ers general manager John Lynch commented on the benefits of having a versatile player like Fitzpatrick.

"The game is much more spread out," Lynch said. "They throw the football much more. It's played much more in space. And so, you better have players who can operate in space and who can do a number of different things. Minkah Fitzpatrick is a guy that is highly thought of, and we feel the same about him, but that versatility that he brings is something special."

Fitzpatrick registered 171 combined tackles with 16.5 for a loss, five sacks, nine interceptions, 24 passes defensed, and two forced fumbles in three seasons with Alabama, according to Sports Reference. He also returned four of those nine interceptions for touchdowns. In 2017, Fitzpatrick recorded 60 combined tackles with eight for a loss, 1.5 sacks, an interception, seven passes defensed, and a forced fumble. In 2016, he led the team with six interceptions, 186 interception return yards, and two touchdowns while setting a school record with four (his other two pick-sixes came in 2015).

The 2018 NFL Draft takes place April 26-28 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It will be the first draft to take place in an NFL stadium.