NFL Combine
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Trust the process….

The San Francisco 49ers have double-digit draft picks this year. But, as we’ve previously noted, the 49ers rookie pool would cost them $10.6 million. Over the Cap currently has the Niners with $6.3 million in cap space.

I had that in mind when I went through PFF’s mock draft simulator, as a trade-up — or two — feels inevitable this year. General manager John Lynch has an itchy finger. It wouldn’t feel right if he didn’t maneuver around.

Let’s delve into the strategic reasoning that led us to make a move up to pick No. 21. Upon seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers secure LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., we recognized the need to preempt other potential wide receiver-needy teams like the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, Arizona Cardinals, and Buffalo Bills.

Old friend Mike McDaniel has a pick in the first and second rounds, but after picking No. 55, he won’t pick again until No. 158. It didn’t take much to get Mike to agree. He responded to our text with a thumbs-up and a “cool glasses” emoji. In the second round, Miami ended up drafting BYU tackle Kingsley Suamataia. You’re welcome, Mike.

Brock Purdy is our guy. This draft is intended to build around our quarterback, and the best way to do that is to ensure he has weapons. Yes, Jauan Jennings and Deebo Samuel are still on the roster, but the odds of both being around after the 2024 season are slim. I’m thinking big picture. Brandon Aiyuk and Adonai Mitchell give Purdy two stud wideouts for the foreseeable future.

With the second, third, and fourth-round picks, we invested in our offensive line. Houston left tackle Patrick Paul beats out Colton McKivitz on the right side in training camp, while Kansas State’s right guard Cooper Beebe wins the job on draft night. Wisconsin center Tanor Bortilini will serve as our swing lineman in 2024 and take over for Jake Brendel next year. Instantly, we’ve upgraded the offensive line and have three future starters.

Defensive coordinator Nick Sorensen is giving me the death stare, wondering when we will address the other side of the ball. Fair enough. With the next pick, we took LSU defensive tackle Mehki Wingo, who fell due to being 6’ and having short arms. But we’re giving Kris Kocurek an explosive pass rusher who has immense upside when lined up as a 3-technique.

Then, with pick No. 135, we took Wake Forest safety Malik Mustapha, who will instantly improve our special teams unit and can step in in case Talanoa Hufanga isn’t fully recovered. Mustapha can bring the hammer and be better at playing in a split-safety defense.

In the sixth round, we used a legacy pick on Frank Gore Jr. at running back and Bub Means, a 6’1, 212-pound receiver who can stretch the field and make difficult catches when called upon. He’ll also play special teams. We’ll get Means to buy in as a blocker at his size.

We’ll sign a tight end and a couple of defensive backs as undrafted free agents, as well as Austin Reed, a quarterback from Western Kentucky.

The additions of Isaac Yiadom and Rock Ya-Sin were the reasons we ignored cornerback this year. If neither pan out, we’ll look in the free agency market next offseason. We’ll also look to lock in Jennings to a long-term deal, and plan on him being our slot receiver.

Not drafting a tight end might come back to haunt us, but the idea is we’ll run more 11 personnel and lean on three wide receiver sets. The trio of Brayden Willis, Cameron Latu, and Eric Saubert should be able to give us some production. If not, sorry, George, you are going to have a lot on your plate. Again.

Congrats on a sixth Lombardi trophy, gang.

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