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49ers invest in physicality with first two draft picks

May 13, 2024 at 10:28 AM

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Draft analysts have declared that the San Francisco 49ers reached with their first two selections, adding wide receiver Ricky Pearsall with the No. 31 overall pick, a move few saw coming, and then cornerback Renardo Green in the second round. We'll have to wait to see their play on the field to determine whether critics are right or wrong, but the Niners acquired some toughness with the two rookies.

49ers director of player personnel Tariq Ahmad recently praised the team's top two selections, making it clear that their toughness on the football field significantly contributed to the decision to draft them.

Regarding Pearsall, Ahmad told Matt Barrows of The Athletic, "The physicality jumped off the tape this (past) year. The demeanor going over the middle, the demeanor with the ball in his hands. The physicality jumped off the tape there."

It's a mentality that head coach Kyle Shanahan covets when choosing wide receivers. Just look at the top players already on the roster—Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Jauan Jennings. All three welcome contact with defenders and are not afraid to punish those who seek to limit their production.

While Green's measurables and statistics didn't immediately stand out to 49ers evaluators, the cornerback's toughness and physicality on the football field were apparent.

Discussing the 49ers' conversations with Florida State coaches, Ahmad said, "When you hear, 'He likes hitting, he likes tackling more than he likes interceptions' — that leaves such a strong memory of who he is. He fits our culture, the way that we want to play defense."

Ahmad compares Green to the 49ers' standout cornerback, Deommodore Lenoir, an emerging NFL star who showed last season that he could compete with the league's best. San Francisco loves the similarities between the rookie and the veteran.

"As far as the type of guy, definitely," Ahmad said. "The demeanor, the mentality, the passion for football, the competitiveness, the toughness. (Green) checks all those boxes at a really, really high level."

He added, "When we were in draft meetings and watching him, I remember Kyle really enjoying his tape because of those reasons. The physicality, the willingness to aggressively work to the football. That was a really strong part of his game."
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