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The San Francisco 49ers elected to grab Baylor wide receiver Jalen Hurd early in Round 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft. A potential mismatch nightmare, how will head coach Kyle Shanahan deploy him?


So much for any predictions the San Francisco 49ers would use their Round 3 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft on a defensive back.

Instead of going on defense, the Niners went back to back in the second and third rounds, first grabbing South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel and then landing Baylor wideout Jalen Hurd at No. 67 overall.

Two wide receivers in a row? Granted, San Francisco didn't generate a 500-yard wide receiver in 2018. But this could seem like quite the reach, right?

Perhaps, but one has to look at the kind of weapon Hurd is.

At 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds, it's not hard to see how Hurd can be a potential mismatch nightmare. A former standout collegiate running back at the University of Tennessee, Hurd transferred to Baylor after not wanting to suffer numerous injuries as a tailback. Hurd missed 2017 while learning wide receiver, eventually reaching just shy of 1,000 receiving yards in 2018.

Baylor primarily used Hurd as a slot receiver, yet his frame is built for boundary duties.

If 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan keeps him there, of course.

Samuel, 5-foot-11, doesn't completely address the Niners' red-zone woes from a year ago -- San Francisco ranked dead last in red-zone touchdown efficiency in 2018. And while Pro Bowl tight end George Kittle is the team's best pass-catching weapon, one can envision how Shanahan might try to use Hurd to complement Kittle.

Hurd is a true "go up and get it" receiver, which San Francisco lacks. Having played running back, he's also capable of being handed the ball in the unique kind of offensive packages Shanahan is certain to deploy.

This doesn't necessarily mean Hurd is slated to be a No. 2 tight end to Kittle, though. True, the 49ers could stand for an upgrade over veteran TE Garrett Celek. But Hurd isn't much of a blocker and will have to master that technique in order to use his frame effectively in that kind of way.

As a mismatch on the field with Kittle, Samuel and fellow wideout Dante Pettis, however, one can envision how Shanahan can have a lot of fun this season.