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Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

49ers’ Draft Plan: Add TE and Quality Depth

Apr 17, 2022 at 10:52 AM--

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Every 49er fan knows that, due to the Trey Lance trade, the boys by the Bay will be making the 61st pick in this year's draft. Without a first-round pick, the 49ers are likely to miss out on the upper echelon talents in this year's class. However, after the addition of CB Charvarius Ward in free agency, the team's roster doesn't have any glaring holes. With quality starters at nearly every position, the 49ers brass should head into this year's draft with a plan to stay true to their big board and add depth. With nearly every mock draft predicting the 49ers to go Edge or Safety with the 61st pick, I want to present other options the 49ers could explore with their ten picks in the draft.

Alright, this may sound a little crazy, but stay with me—the 49ers should look to draft the best available TE with the 61st overall pick. Ok, hear me out before you go and blast me in the comments. It could be argued that the two most versatile players on the 49ers' offense are George Kittle and Kyle Juszczyk. In years past, when either player has been out of the lineup, their position has been filled with Ross Dwelley. No slight to Dwelley, he has been serviceable in his next-man-up role. However, a more dynamic playmaker at the TE position would not only keep the offense clicking if either Kittle or Juszczyk missed time due to injury, but also serve as another weapon for a team that is looking to start what is essentially a rookie at QB in Lance. With Shanahan's creativity, the ability to create yet another mismatch with an H Back / TE skillset could be the answer to a team that has had problems holding on to late-game leads. Colorado State TE Trey McBride has a late 2nd round grade and if he is available at 61, the 49ers could add both depth and a quality playmaker with their first selection in this year's draft.

After adding a dynamic playmaker who can step in for either "Juice" or Kittle, the team should address the Alex Mack-sized elephant in the room. From every indication the former All-Pro center Mack looks to return for another season with the club. However, Mack will be 37 this November and although he has been very durable throughout his playing career, a contingency plan needs to be in place for either injury or the day Mack plans to hang it up. The Shanahan/Lynch regime would be well served to use one of their late-round picks on a center whom they can groom into a long-term solution. As it currently stands, the former undrafted Jake Brendel is the team's backup center. Last month Brendel re-signed with the team on a one-year deal, which serves as an indication that the team doesn't see him as the player they intend to fill the role with going forward.

Aside from the defensive line, the linebacker unit may just be the best-developed position group on the entire team. In addition to arguably the best MLB in the NFL in Fred Warner, the linebacker room includes Azeez Al-Shaair, Demetrius Flanigan-Fowles, Dre Greenlaw, and the newly signed Oren Burks. With Greenlaw missing a large chunk of games last season due to injury and Burks being brought on primarily for his special team prowess, the 49ers should look to add a linebacker in the middle rounds of the draft. With defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryan's history of developing linebackers, selecting a linebacker with the measurables that the team covets would serve as a great way to bolster the roster. Ryans has expressed his desire to play more man to man in the secondary which is likely to put linebackers in coverage versus running backs and occasionally tight ends. Spending one of the ten picks in this year's draft on a linebacker who can cover would be a wise investment.

Lastly, adding depth to the WR room in a draft loaded with wide receivers would not be a bad idea. With Brandon Aiyuk poised to take a leap with Trey Lance's ability to push the ball down the field and the late-season emergence of Jauan Jennings, the receiving corps will likely be amongst the League's best when Deebo Samuel's production is factored in. The free-agent addition of Ray Ray McCloud will likely prove to be more than just a special team addition as Kyle Shanahan is a master of creating mismatches with shifty players who like to play in space. Finding a mid or late-round gem to add to the WR room should be in the draft plan because, aside from the aforementioned players, the room is lacking quality depth.

With the draft ten days away, how would you like to see the 49ers add to an already stacked roster with few needs to fill? I think adding depth via staying true to your big board should be the plan with no first-round picks in this year's draft.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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