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Robert Kupbens-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN shares Ricky Pearsall’s best path to contributing early for 49ers

Jun 17, 2024 at 2:08 PM

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ESPN recently tasked its NFL reporters with providing updates on each team's first-round draft pick. For the San Francisco 49ers, that player is wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, selected with the No. 31 overall pick.

Initially, some analysts questioned the selection, but ESPN reporter Nick Wagoner noted that "Pearsall has been exactly as advertised" after observing the rookie during the limited practices open to the media.

"The Niners have used him at multiple receiver positions in the offense and as a punt returner, which is probably his best ticket to touching the ball early in his rookie year," Wagoner remarked. "The team wants Pearsall to be able to step in anywhere in case of injury, and he so far has proved plenty versatile, according to coach Kyle Shanahan."

Last season at Florida, Pearsall returned 11 punts for 126 yards, averaging 11.5 yards per return.

Providing a Pearsall update earlier this month, Shanahan commented, "He's doing a good job. He's got really good hands, so he's rarely going to have a drop. We're getting him a lot of reps. He's getting a lot of different routes, trying all the positions, and we've been really impressed with how he started off."

However, more definitive evaluations will come once training camp begins and the pads are on. One 49ers star defender is eager to see Pearsall in action during full-contact practices.

"He can obviously run fast, he can run really good routes, can catch the ball well. So we'll see what happens when we throw the pads on," Warner recently told reporters.

The linebacker has been impressed with how Pearsall has carried himself since joining the team. He is just withholding his official evaluation until the more grueling practices begin.

"I mean, there's a reason why he was drafted in the first round," Warner shared. "Usually you get drafted that high because you've got a lot of ability and you're built of the right stuff. I didn't know what the rankings was of the receivers coming out or anything. I give all the rookies a chance to prove themselves, and you're not really going to prove much in OTAs when you're in shorts and t-shirts."
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