Podcast: 49ers Dominate Dolphins And Lose Jimmy G →
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports


What Do the 49ers Have in Jalen Hurd?

Justin Wong
Apr 29, 2019 at 7:02 PM2


Standing atop the third round with the 67th overall pick, many 49ers fans were expecting General Manager John Lynch to look at addressing either the secondary or offensive line; they had just selected wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the second round. Samuel is a great prospect in his own right, but at 5-foot-11, most of his work was done primarily on underneath routes as a slot receiver. It turns out, the 49ers decided to double down on the position.

Enter Baylor receiver Jalen Hurd, an intriguing prospect at 6-foot-5 and 226 pounds who was previously a running back for two seasons with the University of Tennessee before transferring to Baylor—and making the switch to wide receiver. Hurd had to redshirt the 2017 season, but in his brief time at Baylor, he finished the 2018 season with 69 receptions for 946 receiving yards and eight touchdowns—along with 48 carries for 209 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns.

While I personally feel it was a luxury for the 49ers to invest in developing a prospect like Hurd so early in the draft, there's no doubt about his upside. Hurd brings unique size, length, and athleticism in Kyle Shanahan's offense.


Baylor used him almost exclusively as a slot receiver because it wanted to take advantage of his ability to make plays after the catch. However, looking at his metrics, it makes you wonder just how good he can be at the next level; he could be a future jump-ball monster in the red zone or a creative chess piece as a tight end or running back in certain packages.

If the 49ers wanted a bigger receiver, why didn't they draft Iowa State receiver Hakeem Butler, who was nabbed by Arizona Cardinals atop the fourth round? NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein wrote an excellent write-up on Hurd prior to the draft, and one of the biggest takeaways I get from his draft profile is the promise that his best days may be ahead of him.

Hurd was used as big slot but he might need to transition into a role outside to take advantage of his potential to stretch the field as a downfield ball-winner. He's still learning the nuances of the position, but he has outstanding traits, a great work ethic and an ability to get much better very quickly. While Hurd will be an NFL receiver, he offers a unique option of becoming a short-yardage banger near the goal line. His best days are in front of him.

I get the feeling the 49ers must have felt that Hurd was a better route runner than Butler and has the ability to develop his current skillset to the next level. Looking at the tape, Hurd seems to have a good feel for route leverage with enough physicality to create yards-after-the-catch.


Will the 49ers continue to develop him at wide receiver? Is he better served as a move to tight end? Could they put him at running back on certain packages? At this point, it's too early to tell where he belongs in Shanahan's offense. Nonetheless, many observers are intrigued by Hurd's promise when you look at the film.


As I stated earlier, there were prospects with more established positions at the top of the third round--like Butler at receiver or even San Jose State's Josh Oliver at tight end if they were looking for red zone targets. I like the idea of it all, but I'm concerned that a raw prospect like Hurd would have been better served had they targeted him in the mid rounds of the draft—not with the 67th overall pick. Shanahan has been known to aggressively draft his players when it comes to offense, even if the actual draft value wasn't there. Recent examples include quarterback C.J. Beathard and running back Joe Williams.

Hurd is rightfully labeled as an "offensive weapon" because of his versatility, but I am concerned about having that same positive becoming a negative if the 49ers aren't careful. Look at defensive back Jimmie Ward or defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, who have failed to live up to draft day expectations. Some will argue that their constant position switches hindered their careers while others will simply conclude they're just not good enough, period.

What do the 49ers have in Hurd? Shanahan was adamant in finding more weapons for Jimmy Garoppolo prior to the draft, and they certainly accomplished that—but the actual fit remains to be seen.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • william Bruneau
    Nobody seems to realize he is Jucuz... replacement. One who can actually rush, even. This is what Shanahan really wants in an offensive weapon. Perhaps he can afford to keep two on the payroll.
    Apr 29, 2019 at 10:06 PM
    1
  • PJNiner
    Anyone who can rush for almost 1,000 yards and catch for almost a 1,000 yards in a shortened college season at a new position is an athlete! Shanahan has turned less athletic guys into superstars. Imagine an LB trying to cover this guy in the middle or a tiny CB trying to tackle him with a full head of steam. That being said I think we could have gotten him in the fourth and picked up a projected 1st Round corner like Justin Layne or a more athletic, less fragile safety like Harris? But I'm sure our genius head coach and ex-pro bowl safety GM know more about football than all of us fans combined. I haven't been this excited for a season for a long time. Go Niners!
    Apr 29, 2019 at 8:32 PM
    0

Facebook Comments



More San Francisco 49ers News



Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson say Dolphins have more talent than 49ers, a QB 'who can actually sling it'

By David Bonilla
Nov 27

With a big-time matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Miami Dolphins quickly approaching, two former Niners have voiced their opinions about their new NFL team. While the Niners are focused on this afternoon's game against the New Orleans Saints, Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. have been speaking with Tyler Dunne of Go Long, sharing their thoughts on next weekend's opponent. Mostert was critical of how the 49ers reacted to his Week 1 injury last season. Head coach Kyle Shanahan initially anticipated the knee injury would keep the running back out for about eight weeks. However, Mostert instead opted to undergo season-ending surgery. "He knew how



49ers Notebook: Shanahan happy with backup RBs in Mitchell's absence; 49ers overcome unusual week; Saints' impressive streak snapped

By Kirk Larrabee
Nov 27

It was a strange week for the San Francisco 49ers, who had to work through an unusual schedule that saw them arrive home from their Monday night game in Mexico City in the early morning hours on Tuesday, followed by Thanksgiving on Thursday. Still, they managed to work through it and prepare themselves to play against the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and in the end they came out on top with a 13-0 win. How did the 49ers work through that schedule? We'll look at that in this version of 49ers Notebook, along with some postgame thoughts from head coach Kyle Shanahan on the running back situation, a look at an impressive streak the 49ers snapped on Sunday, and much more. Let's get it started... (See also:



The 49ers' Defense is Becoming Elite Again: 5 Observations about Saints-49ers

By JD Salazar
Nov 28

This 2022 iteration of the 49ers is endlessly fascinating to watch. One of the best teams in football one week, getting humiliated the next. Back to the future, forward with the past. But as turbulent and ramshackle as it's been, the 49ers are morphing into a team ready to dominate in the playoffs, just as head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch have always believed. Here are 5 observations from yesterday's win over the Saints. 1. The Scoreless Streak Extends to 4… In the second half of the past 4 games, the 49ers haven't allowed a point. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada. The Rams, Chargers, Cardinals, and now Saints have all failed to crack the scoreboard once after halftime. While only this last contest has been a pure shutout, that mark remains



49ers WR Deebo Samuel likely to play vs. Saints

By David Bonilla
Nov 27

According to multiple reports, San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel is "likely" to play this afternoon against the New Orleans Saints. Samuel has been limited in practice this week due to a hamstring injury, and the 49ers listed him as "questionable" for this afternoon's game. #49ers WR Deebo Samuel, listed as questionable and dealing with a hamstring injury, is likely to play today, source said. He looked like himself on Friday.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet)


Featured

More by Justin Wong

More Articles

Share 49ersWebzone