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Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN’s Bowen sees 49ers as an ideal fit for USC’s Michael Pittman Jr.

Apr 2, 2020 at 7:44 AM--

There are a lot of mock drafts out there that have the San Francisco 49ers selecting a wide receiver with the No. 13 overall pick. It's a glaring need on the roster with the departure of Emmanuel Sanders, but is it the team's biggest need and the best spot to bolster the position?

Matt Bowen of ESPN recently looked at the top receivers available in this month's draft and placed each with a team that seems to be a perfect fit. It's a deep group of receivers with talent that can be had even into the mid and later rounds. That's why Bowen feels San Francisco can afford to address another position at No. 13 and use its later first-round pick, No. 31 overall, on a wideout.

So which pairing does Bowen see as an ideal fit between player and team based on scheme and team needs? That would be the 6-foot-4 and 223-pound Michael Pittman Jr. out of USC, a physical route runner with a big frame who could be used as a vertical target on one-on-one matchups.

"In Kyle Shanahan's scheme, Pittman could produce quickly for an offense that wants the ball thrown between the numbers with Jimmy Garoppolo," writes Bowen. "Think of the in-cuts with play-action and the deep curls off max-protection, along with run-pass options and leveled reads for Garoppolo. That's where Pittman can use his frame to body up defensive backs and produce after the catch. He's an ascending prospect with the physical traits to fit in Shanahan's heavily schemed passing game."

The majority of mock drafts have the 49ers selected Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs of Alabama, or CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma at No. 13. Bowens sees other teams as ideal fits for those three receivers, matching Jeudy with the New York Jets, Lamb with the Las Vegas Raiders, and Ruggs with the Denver Broncos. That last one would mean San Francisco would have to pass on Ruggs should he still be on the draft board because the Broncos pick at No. 15 overall, two selections after the 49ers. Of course, this list is touted to be more about ideal fits than projecting landing spots.

As for his college production, Pittman caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards with 11 touchdowns through 13 games as a senior with the Trojans. He totaled over twice that with 2,519 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns in his four seasons at USC.

Click here (subscription required) to see where Bowen places all 16 of his top receiver prospects.


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