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ESPN’s Barnwell: 49ers trading up in Round 1 to draft a cornerback ‘could make sense’

Apr 8, 2024 at 12:22 PM

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The San Francisco 49ers currently hold the No. 31 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. While many expect them to address the offensive line, given their recent focus on defense in free agency, ESPN's Bill Barnwell suggests a different approach. He advocates for the 49ers to use their first-round pick on a cornerback and potentially trade up to secure the right talent.

Trading up wouldn't be out of character for the Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch regime. The last time the 49ers owned the No. 31 overall pick, they surrendered two more selections to move up to No. 25 overall, where they drafted wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

"The 49ers have lost a few players this offseason, but this is still one of the deeper rosters in football," ESPN writer Bill Barnwell wrote. "GM John Lynch also has two extra fourth-rounders and an extra sixth-rounder to play around with if he wants to make a small move up the board. After what went down in the Super Bowl, trying to jump ahead of the pack for a cornerback could make sense, although that's not a position this regime has typically valued at a high level in the draft."

RELATED 49ers Scorecard: Offseason Moves Ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft

Barnwell clarifies that this isn't a prediction of what will happen later this month in Detroit, but rather his preference based on post-free agency roster assessments.

Notably, Barnwell doesn't specify which cornerback the 49ers should target. ESPN draft analyst Matt Miller lists Terrion Arnold of Alabama, Quinyon Mitchell of Toledo, Ennis Rakestraw Jr. of Missouri, Cooper DeJean of Iowa, and Nate Wiggins of Clemson as his top-ranked cornerbacks. In his most recent mock draft, Miller had all but Rakestraw projected to come off draft boards in the first round.

As it stands, the 49ers' starting outside cornerbacks are Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir. However, the team hopes to find someone to take over the spot opposite Ward, allowing Lenoir to take over the slot position permanently.

The 49ers signed Isaac Yiadom in free agency. The former New Orleans Saints cornerback had a career season in 2023, boasting an 81.1 overall grade and an 80.4 coverage grade from Pro Football Focus. Eric Branch of the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported that San Francisco views Yiadom as the frontrunner to start opposite Ward. However, introducing a first-round draft pick into that competition would not come as a complete surprise.


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