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5 things to know about 49ers fifth-round pick DE Robert Beal

Apr 29, 2023 at 1:43 PM--

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The San Francisco 49ers on Saturday used their second of two fifth-round picks to add help on the defensive line, selecting University of Georgia edge rusher Robert Beal at pick 173 overall.

Beal (6-4, 247) is the latest addition to a position the 49ers have made an effort to shore up this offseason, joining free agent acquisitions Austin Bryant and Clelin Ferrell. Beal will compete with Bryant and Ferrell as well as veteran Kerry Hyder and Alex Barrett for a spot at defensive end behind Nick Bosa and 2022 second-round pick Drake Jackson.

What will the 49ers be getting in Beal? Let's take a look.

A 49ers fan

Beal told reporters after his selection on Saturday that the 49ers edged out his local team, the Atlanta Falcons, as his favorite team growing up. He's looking forward to getting the chance to put on the jersey of the team he once rooted for.

"It's crazy because the 49ers, they were like, my favorite team growing up as a kid, and it's just like a dream, being able to reunite and being able to play for you guys," Beal said.

Beal singled out former 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith as a player he liked to keep an eye on.

"I used to watch him day in, day out," Beal said.

Speed and length

The first number that jumps out when it comes to Beal is his time in the 40-yard dash, which was measured at 4.48 at the NFL Scouting Combine. There's little doubt it caught the eye of those making the draft decisions for the 49ers.

"You don't get that with a lot of guys," ESPN analyst Todd McShay said of Beal, per the Athens (Ga.) Banner-Herald. "He's got really good transition quickness in terms of getting off blocks, locating and going to make plays."

Beal also boasts an 83 1/2-inch wingspan, which he uses to his advantage on the playing field but not so much in the fashion department.

"I really just use my length to my advantage," Beal told reporters Saturday. "I was born with long arms. I can't really fit any shirt comfortably. It's either (too) long and my arms stick out the bottom of the shirt or the shirt will be too big. It's kind of crazy."

Highly recruited in high school

Beal split his high school days between IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida and Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, Georgia. Beal joins a distinguished list of Peachtree Ridge players to reach the NFL, including defensive lineman Cam Heyward and tight end Connor Hayward of the Steelers, cornerback Bradley Roby of the Saints, defensive lineman Kingsley Enagbare of the Packers, offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. of the Bengals, and former NFL linebacker Kevin Minter.

Beal was rated as a five-star player coming out of high school by ESPN and PrepStar magazine in the 2017 class and was a selection to the Under Armour All-American Game. and rated Beal as a four-star player.

But his college production didn't match his high school ranking

Beal spent six years at Georgia and at times got lost in the shuffle among the highly talented players on the Bulldogs' defense. He finished his college career with 36 tackles, 10 sacks, two forced fumbles, and one fumble recovery. Beal became a starter in 2022 in place of injured pass rusher and Philadelphia Eagles first-round pick Nolan Smith and totaled 20 pressures and 2.5 sacks after making 6.5 sacks the year before.

Beal entered the transfer portal in 2019 but decided to remain at the University of Georgia. But after six years, he's looking forward to turning the page.

"I was ready to get out of that bubble and experience the real world," Beal said.

What the scouts say

Beal's pre-draft rankings usually fell somewhere on Day 3. The Draft Network rated Beal as the No. 182 overall prospect in this year's field.

"Beal has the frame, length, and traits, but his sack production has not quite lived up to expectations," wrote Damian Parson of TDN. "His pad level can be a little high and negatively affect his leveraging. His pass-rush arsenal is not overly diverse at this stage of his career." rated Beal as a seventh-round pick or undrafted free agent.

"Beal has been missed out on snaps to more talented players and doesn't have a history of production that will excite teams, but his size, length and athletic ability are all moldable elements that could attract a team on Day 3," wrote Lance Zierlein of "He lacks awareness as a run defender and possesses just average range as a tackler, but he can hold his ground against power. As a rusher, the tape can be a little uneven, but he flashes moves and counters that appear to be instinctive and potential fuel for development. Beal is a developmental edge defender who needs to prove himself on special teams while he continues learning the position."

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