49ers NFL Draft Profile: WR KJ Hamler
The San Francisco 49ers hold two highly prioritized draft picks in the first round. But with those selections, the option of trading back in order to add additional draft capital in the mid-rounds certainly remains a possible outcome for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch.
Currently, the 49ers are inline to go 126 consecutive picks without a selection after they turn in the card for pick No. 31. Last year, San Francisco was able to hit on several mid-round picks, including wide receiver Deebo Samuel and linebacker Dre Greenlaw.
A potential trade back option in order to add multiple picks outside of day one is a move the 49ers have been consistently linked to since adding the additional first-rounder from the Indianapolis Colts for DeForest Buckner.
Penn State's KJ Hamler is largely projected to go in the second round as he presumably could be a player to target if the 49ers trade back on day one of the draft. Here's what Hamler does well, needs to improve on and how he fits the 49ers' offensive scheme.
RAC Ability: Hamler's run after the catch ability is exactly what teams around the league constantly covet every year come draft day. He has arguably the best speed among receiving prospects with perhaps only Henry Ruggs III being the only exception. But it's not just straight-line speed that makes Hamler so dangerous — he's extremely elusive in the open field with quality vision to maneuver his way around opposing defenders.
Route Running: He regularly separates on underneath and deep routes. Hamler's joystick-type ability serves him well when shaking defenders with sudden movements. For someone who's labeled as a "speed demon," he brings a superior knack to snap off the top of his route while containing adequate body control.
Athleticism/ Change of Direction: Hamler not only can fly downfield vertically but he also possesses the ability to stop and start very efficiently. When lining up in the slot, he's everything you want in a receiver, finding the holes of the defense and creating separation in a timely manner. His short-area quickness is just as much of a threat as is the long-distance speed in which he brings to the table.
Physicality: He's not afraid to use his body and get physical with defenders but Hamler is physically limited when attempting to do so. Most importantly, the physical concerns come when having to go above the rim for 50/50 balls. He has some alpha mentality to him which is a plus for receivers but his physical limitations become capped at a certain point.
Frame: Listed at 5'9", 178 pounds. His frame is concerning at the next level as it makes you wonder if he can hold up for an entire NFL season. Hamler never missed a game over his career at Penn State but is vastly undersized for NFL standards. You'd like to see him streak downfield on the outside but with size limitations, many questions present themselves if he can sustain the press coverage and constant blows from bigger defenders on the outside. Unfortunately for Hamler's case, his size is what it is and he'll have to play with what he's been dealt.
Blocking: His willingness to block is commendable, although, it's limited due to poor strength and length. Hamler is more suited to win against nickel corners when offering help in run support.
How he fits the 49ers?
The 49ers' offense currently contains two pass-catchers who win with physicality in Deebo Samuel and Geroge Kittle. It's time they add another wrinkle to the mix in order to take the top off the defense and Hamler's skillset would provide Shanahan with just that.
Hamler has experience playing in the slot and on the outside, so he comes with versatility already in his tool belt. Additionally, Hamler returned kicks for the Nittany Lions, averaging 23.5 yards per return during his collegiate career.
The 49ers offense is already a stout bunch but when opposing defense gameplan for them, their immediate approach is to stop the run game. Kicking the tires on a potential Hamler addition would provide Shanahan's offense with a legitimate deep threat, forcing defenses to play in their more natural position without adding extra bodies into the box.
Pro Comp: Brandin Cooks