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John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports


NFL Draft: WR Henry Ruggs’ fit with the 49ers

Jason Aponte
Apr 9, 2020 at 12:00 PM


When the 49ers traded away stud defensive tackle Deforest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th overall pick in 2020, fans began to salivate at the thought of drafting one of the big three receivers in a deep class. Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb, and Henry Ruggs III are all ranked as the top three in the class, what order they are in is different depending on who you ask. I have Jeudy, Lamb, and Ruggs ranked in that order, but it's hard not to imagine what Ruggs can add to this offense.

Let's start with Ruggs' measurables: 5'11", 188 lbs, and runs a 4.27 40. Tyreek Hill is a frequent player comp for Ruggs as well as DeSean Jackson and (get ready for this one) Marquise Goodwin. Take a look back to 2018 against the Packers to see what Ruggs can bring to the offense.


The offense last season was missing Goodwin and his speed to force defenders over the top to open passing lanes in the middle of the field. With the maturity of Deebo Samuel in this offense, adding Ruggs as a home run threat will keep defensive coordinators up at night.

One play in particular from last season stuck out in my mind as a dream fit for Ruggs. Flashback to Week 11 against Arizona, with the team trailing and needing a spark, Kyle Shanahan dug into his bag of tricks.


Sending Richie James in motion then moving the pocket to create the throwback with blockers out in front was the perfect play to jump-start the struggling offense. These chunk plays can turn into touchdowns with Ruggs' speed. Shanahan didn't dial up many deep shots in 2019, which many view as playing to his players' strengths. If Ruggs is the pick at 13, expect to see more downfield shots.

One knock I've seen on Ruggs is his lack of college production. 98 catches in three seasons put him 61 catches behind Jeudy. Jeudy had nearly 200 targets combined in the past two seasons. Ruggs made the most of his 53 targets to average 18.7 yards per reception with 7 touchdowns. 24 of Ruggs' 98 total receptions were touchdowns. Is that good?

Here's one from last season which looks ripped right from Shanahan's playbook:


Running a slant is a simple route, but the breakaway speed is something special. Last season we saw Deebo Samuel take similar routes for touchdowns, imagine Ruggs in space with the ball in his hands.

One final play that I found from last season against Tennessee makes Ruggs look like a Tyreek Hill clone. He runs right past his defender with Jeudy in the slot next to him. The separation and catch is a mirror image of Hill and his skill set.


If the 49ers decide to stick with pick 13 and can land Jeudy, Lamb, or Ruggs, Niners fans should be excited. While I have Jeudy and Lamb ranked ahead of Ruggs, I'm certainly coming around to the idea of Ruggs being the ideal fit for the offense.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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