Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

49ers bolster O-line in latest mock draft from The Athletic

Feb 23, 2021 at 8:23 AM--

The Athletic's NFL writers conducted a first-round mock draft, with Matt Barrows selecting for the San Francisco 49ers. General manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan own the No. 12 overall pick, and could go in several directions. Some wonder if the team might even make a move to add a rookie quarterback.

This mock draft, like many others, has the top four quarterback prospects long gone before the 49ers' first selection. Not that Barrows would have gone in that direction anyway. Cornerback Patrick Surtain II of Alabama heads to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 10. The New York Giants select tight end Kyle Pitts of Florida at No. 11.

So where does that leave the 49ers with the next selection? Bolstering their offensive line by drafting Rashawn Slater of Northwestern.

Barrows notes that San Francisco could go with a defensive end with Nick Bosa coming off an ACL injury and Dee Ford's future up in the air. But the beat writer feels selecting one at No. 12 might be a reach.

"Slater is the best player on the board at this point," explained Barrows. "The 49ers could insert him immediately at right guard, a problem area in recent seasons, with an eye on him moving to tackle in the future. A plausible alternate scenario: Another team looking for a tackle trades up to get Slater, the 49ers trade back, draft a defensive end and add several more picks in the process."

Barrows isn't the only one who can envision the 49ers selecting Slater. Analyst Daniel Jeremiah recently had San Francisco adding the former Wildcat in his mock draft for

Slater opted out of this past collegiate season after the Big Ten initially announced a postponement to its games. He decided to forego the season and focus on the draft when the conference later reversed its decision.

The young offensive lineman allowed zero sacks, one quarterback hit, and just five quarterback hurries during his 787 snaps in 2019.

Click here to read through the entire mock draft.

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