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Jeremy Fowler names 49ers pick as biggest head-scratcher of the draft

May 6, 2024 at 9:29 AM


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ESPN's experts recently evaluated the best and most questionable moves of the 2024 NFL Draft. According to reporter Jeremy Fowler, one of the most puzzling decisions was the San Francisco 49ers selecting a wide receiver instead of upgrading their offensive line. Like many others, Fowler was surprised to hear Ricky Pearsall's name called with the No. 31 overall pick.

"I'm not about to doubt coach Kyle Shanahan's eye for offensive skill players, and I love Pearsall as a player," Fowler explained. "But his place as WR6 in this draft was unexpected. Most teams I spoke to pegged him as a Day 2 pick. Considering the 49ers still have Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on the roster, bolstering the offensive or defensive line seemed like a sensible play."

One opposing college defensive coordinator told ESPN's Adam Rittenberg, "The Pearsall pick, other than the Penix pick, might have been the oddest one to me. He's a solid receiver. We didn't have to game-plan for him. His routes at times were just OK. He would do a lot of dancing and get off target. Some of the throws that [Florida QB Graham] Mertz missed ... were on lack of route detail by Pearsall. That one shocked me."

While many anticipated the 49ers drafting an offensive tackle to compete on the right side with Colton McKivitz or potentially replace future Hall of Famer Trent Williams in the future, the team opted not to select a true tackle. San Francisco's draft position in the first round played a significant role in the decision not to address the tackle position.

"We looked at numerous guys throughout the process," general manager John Lynch told reporters after the draft. "I think when you're drafting 31st, it's oftentimes hard to find a tackle that you really love. And we like our tackles as they stand right now. We like our depth with Jaylon Moore being a really talented guy who can play the swing role."

The 49ers believe that the two guards they added, Dominick Puni from Kansas and Jarrett Kingston from USC, offer some flexibility to play at tackle if needed. Puni primarily played left tackle in 2023, while Kingston played 318 snaps at right tackle last season and exclusively at left tackle in 2022.

Lynch added, "We drafted Kingston, who has some flex at tackle, and we'll continue to always try to improve ourself, improve the depth of our team. But we're excited about our O-line group. I know a lot of people talk about that, but we feel pretty good about our group."
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