Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

A Perfect 49ers Draft: Team Passes on Top WRs, Trades Down Twice

Levin T. Black
Apr 15, 2020 at 7:00 AM

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Making the right selections in the draft is imperative to winning in the NFL. Yet, bad drafts can be the downfall of so many front offices. No NFL team is perfect in the draft. Hitting on half the picks would make a team elite. To this point, the San Francisco 49ers have done pretty well since general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan took over.

The 49ers have two first-round picks. Making the right moves with the No. 13 and 31 overall picks is imperative if the 49ers want to remain a contender for years to come.

What follows is my ideal 49ers draft. It includes trades and selections. This is not what I think will happen. Some of these things aren't very likely, and predicting trades that you think will actually occur is akin to spinning the wheel on the Price Is Right. Where it ends up is anyone's guess.

Still, seeing what the 49ers could pull off in an ideal setting is worth looking into. The only parameter this uses is that it has to have a modicum of a chance of happening. Having wide receiver Jerry Jeudy fall to No. 31 is a pointless exercise because it has a zero percent chance of happening.

So operating under the parameter that each move and selection has to have at least some chance of happening, this is the 49ers' ideal draft.

Pick 1 - 21st Overall - Justin Jefferson, WR, LSU

Yes, the 49ers have decided to trade down from No. 13 despite a top-notch wide receiver like Henry Ruggs III, Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb being available. Simply put, the Philadelphia Eagles are more desperate at wide receiver than the 49ers and offered a package too good for the 49ers to pass on.

In this scenario, the Eagles trade up to get Ruggs to give Wentz the weapon he needs with Alshon Jeffery coming off a foot surgery and DeSean Jackson unable to stay healthy consistently. To get up to 13th, the Eagles trade the 49ers No. 21 overall, plus a second-round pick (53rd overall) and a 2021 fourth-round pick. This compares well to the 2019 trade between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Denver Broncos. The Steelers gave up the 20th overall pick plus a second-round pick (52nd) and a 2020 third-round pick in exchange for Denver's 10th overall pick.

With the 21st overall pick, the 49ers take Justin Jefferson, wide receiver from LSU. Why him? I think he fits the 49ers mold extremely well. He's the bigger receiver to play opposite of Deebo Samuel, he excels at going over the middle on slants and posts, does well tracking the ball and winning contested deep balls, is a strong and unafraid blocker in the run game (big for Shanahan) and is hard to bring down after the catch.

Jefferson reminds me of Pierre Garçon is many ways, and it's not a coincidence the 49ers gave him a big contract in the first offseason with Lynch and Shanahan. Jefferson could fill the Garçon role from 2017. The 49ers haven't had a receiver capable of doing that since Garçon got injured that year.

Pick 2 - 37th Overall - A.J. Terrell, CB, Clemson

Another trade down! Look, for a team with one of the best rosters in the league, it almost always makes sense to trade down at the end of the first round. With a day break between the first and second rounds now, teams overpay to get in at the end of the first to nab a guy they didn't expect to still be there.

In this draft, a quarterback will fall. One often does fall, but teams trade up earlier than No. 31 to get that falling QB. With the unusual gluttony at receiver this year that falling quarterback could still be around at the end of the first. If that happens, the Los Angeles Chargers are a team with an early second-round pick and a huge need at QB that reportedly isn't considering taking one with its first selection (No. 8 overall).

To get that QB the Chargers trade the No. 37 overall pick, their fourth-round pick (112th overall), and a 2021 sixth-round pick. For comparison, the 49ers performed a similar trade in 2017, trading up to No. 31 that year to draft Reuben Foster. They gave up the 34th and 111th overall picks to do so.

Now at No. 37, the fifth pick in the second round, the 49ers take cornerback A.J. Terrell from Clemson. A bigger corner at 6-foot-1-inches, Terrell can play in the 49ers system that requires more physicality from its defensive backs on the outside.

Terrell will see the field as a rookie, but his selection is more about 2021. The 49ers have Richard Sherman, Akhello Witherspoon, Emmanuel Moseley, and K'Waun Williams all due for free agency following the 2020 season. Getting a replacement a year early so that he can be groomed makes a lot of sense.

Pick 3 - 53rd Overall - Austin Jackson, OL, USC

The 49ers will likely target an offensive tackle who has a chance to play guard for a year or two while long-time left tackle Joe Staley still plays. Austin Jackson presents a great option in the second round.

Jackson is a terrific athlete who has really quick feet, which makes him a clear tackle long-term. The knock on him is his polish. He needs a lot of technique work to fight off the extreme talents that rush from the edge in the NFL. Going to the 49ers, Jackson has a chance to compete with Daniel Brunskill for the starting right guard spot while also working on his technique so that he can step in once Staley retires after the 2020 or 2021 season.

Jackson has the traits to excel in the Shanahan offense at guard. He will need to pull often, putting an emphasis on athleticism, but also needs good power to push defensive lineman out of the way. Both of those are considered strengths for Jackson.

Pick 4 - 112th Overall - Devon Hamilton, DT, Ohio State

A big, athletic interior pass rusher to provide depth and potentially start is a need for the 49ers following the trade of DeForest Buckner. Hamilton has that ability.

Hamilton only started one year in college due to the NFL-caliber talent Ohio State had on the defensive line, but in that one year, he demonstrated the ability to penetrate gaps in the run game and get off blocks when pass rushing. Hamilton had 9.5 tackles for a loss and six sacks as a senior in 13 games.

Of course, there is a reason Hamilton is available in the fourth round. He is a high upside, high-risk prospect due to the one year of starting. There are other prospects whose upside may not be as high, but teams feel more confident in their evaluations.

Hamilton is one of those prospects who could be taken early in the third round or fall into the sixth round. The projections are all over the board. With the depth the 49ers already have in the interior, they can afford the gamble. It's what the mid-rounds are for.

Pick 5 - 138th Overall - Lynn Bowden Jr., WR, Kentucky

The 49ers acquire this pick from the Kansas City Chiefs. With multiple trade downs and few needs, the 49ers now have too many picks. They group the 156th and 210th overall picks with a 2021 fifth-round pick together to move up 18 spots. For the Chiefs' part, they get an additional pick in a draft they currently only have five picks in.

The reason for the 49ers move up is to get the exciting Lynn Bowden Jr. out of Kentucky. A receiver midway through his junior year, he was asked to become an option quarterback out of desperation. He performed admirably as mostly a running quarterback but has no delusions of being a pro quarterback after attempting just 74 total passes.

As a receiver, he projects as a potential option in the slot. Quick with good lateral movement, Bowden could find time at receiver if Trent Taylor doesn't come back strong. He was utilized a lot on screens in college, which is something Shanahan likes to do with his offense.

Bowden has great vision with the ball in his hands. He rushed for 1,468 yards last year with 1,369 of those yards coming in the final eight games following his switch to quarterback.

He also has the ability to serve as the team's primary returner if he beats out incumbent Richie James Jr. Bowden returned two punts for touchdowns in college and also handled kickoffs prior to the switch to QB.

Pick 6 - 176th Overall - Brycen Hopkins, TE, Purdue

One of the most athletic tight ends in this draft class, Brycen Hopkins would give the 49ers a true second receiving threat at the position to go with the All-Pro Kittle.

Hopkins was an AP All-American as a senior at Purdue. He ran a 4.66-second 40-yard dash at the Combine and demonstrated the ability to run quality routes in college, helping him collect 61 passes for 830 yards and seven touchdowns last year.

His run blocking needs work, and he has issues with drops. A tight end who lasts until the fifth round is going to have warts. As a second receiving option to Kittle, and already having a good blocker in backup Ross Dwelley, the 49ers can go for the high-upside pass-catching tight end. Hopkins' dad was a Pro Bowl offensive lineman, so there is potential to develop as a blocker.

Pick 7 - 217th Overall - A.J. Green, CB, Oklahoma State

They got him! The 49ers finally acquire A.J. Green. Oh, oh, sorry, not that one.

This Green is a project pick which is to be expected this late in the draft (sixth round). A big, physical corner who fits the 49ers mold, Green does not have fluid hips and needs to work on consistency getting turned. He's got the body and athletic ability to be successful in the future in the 49ers system.

There's a good chance Green ends up not making the team but could be a practice squad candidate due to his potential.

Pick 8 - 245th Overall - Khaleke Hudson, LB/S, Michigan

Most likely, Khaleke Hudson will be utilized as an undersized linebacker, but he is a tweener in the truest sense. Too small at 224 pounds to play as an every-down linebacker but not good enough in coverage to be a safety, Hudson is stuck in the middle between the two positions.

He's a tremendous athlete having run a 4.56-second 40-yard dash and had a 120-inch broad jump to go with 30 reps on the bench press. Hudson could be a weapon in a situational blitz with the ability to also drop into underneath coverage, keeping a defense guessing. He will never be an every-down player, however.

So why draft him? He has the potential to be a difference-maker in special teams coverage units while also getting snaps in specific situations on defense. What more could you ask of a seventh-round pick?
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.


  • D
    I co-sign with the trading down with both first round draft picks Quality and quantity are always good together
    Apr 16, 2020 at 12:20 PM
  • matt
    A Perfect 49ers Draft: Team Passes on Top WRs, Trades Down Twice......a perfect reason never to read an article by this guy ever again
    Apr 15, 2020 at 6:57 PM
  • E Benton
    Mock’s are fun, and likely draft reality doesn’t come close, but as you say, why not if there is some chance. So in that vain, here are my thoughts on your thoughts: - first I like your trades and the designated draft capital obtained, so in using your trade formula, here are my picks: Pick 1: WR Mims. Can do everything JJ can, but faster, has higher catch radius, and had fastest 3 cone time in combine; Pick 2: IDL Blalock. Outside of Kinlaw, but replacement for Buckner is Blalock; Pick 3: CB/S T. Burgess. Began as CB, then moved to cover S, faster, more physical than Terrell Pick 4: RB/WR A. Gibson. A playmaker in every aspect, you name. Shany will have fun with this guy. Pick 5: C/IOL N. Harris (Bowden’s versatility not needed due to Gibson pick) Pick 6: TE/H-Back/FB D. Keene. Easily replace Helm, and likely Juices replacement. Pick 7: OT Herron or Heck (1 of them to develop) and Edge to develop: Betiku
    Apr 15, 2020 at 4:36 PM
  • Tyler
    When teams are desperate, you don't play by the fair trade chart. You get as much as you can or no deal.
    Apr 15, 2020 at 3:54 PM
  • Coastal Dave
    Half these dudes get cut! With a stacked roster, the Niners don't need to trade back this much.
    Apr 15, 2020 at 10:59 AM

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