Three Wide Receivers the 49ers Could Target in the Mid-Rounds
In last year's draft class, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch received quality value from their former second-round wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Now, another offseason presents itself, and San Francisco is likely to still remain active in seeking new pass catchers in 2020.
The 49ers' offensive scheme is heavily dependent on their running game, but a healthy balance of passes last season was the determining factor that helped elevate their offense into a top-five unit across the NFL.
The mid-season trade of Emmanuel Sanders was vital to Jimmy Garroppolo's success on must-have downs and gave San Francisco a veteran receiver they desperately needed at that time. As of March, Sanders is due to become an unrestricted free agent, making wide receiver a position the 49ers must look to add once again.
Once the draft rolls around, the 49ers are set to announce their picks at No. 31, No. 139 (via Denver Broncos), No. 159, No. 191, No. 195 (via Detroit Lions), and No. 223 overall.
Here are three wide receivers that project as viable options San Francisco can target in the mid-rounds of the NFL Draft.
Isaiah Hodgins caught the attention of many draft circles after his stellar sophomore campaign, where he had already become Oregon State's top go-to option.
Hodgins now enters the NFL Draft after ranking top three among Pac-12 receivers in receptions (86), receiving yards (1,171), and touchdowns (13) over his junior year. Last season, his name was one that continued to be brought up when discussing the Biletnikoff Award, which is given to the best wide receiver in college football, but ultimately his efforts fell shy of the honor.
Hodgins brings many appealing attributes to his game, but the biggest takeaway is his large catch radius with his "see ball, get ball" mentality. Hodgins has a lot weighing on his combine performance, as a good 40-time paired with his frame of 6-feet-4-inches can shoot him up draft boards. The former Beaver pass-catcher projects as a mid-round option who possesses the makeup of an outside receiver.
Chase Claypool, the Canadian product who's listed at 6-feet-5-inches and 229 pounds tallied his best college season in 2019 as the primary outside threat. While Claypool displayed his ability to play outside the hash marks last season, he also hauled in many crucial catches for Notre Dame as an underclassman while playing in the interior alignment.
Claypool isn't a burner by any means, but his big body is one that most college cornerbacks had a hard time defending 1-on-1. Claypool's best asset is how well he boxes out his defender, going up for 50/50 balls, which resulted in the vast majority of his touchdown receptions.
The Irish utilized him as their main red zone target, and his extensive catch radius projects as one that will carry on in the NFL as a goal-line target. In Claypool's senior season, he recorded career high's in catches (66), receiving yards (1,037), touchdowns (13).
From Ole Miss to the University of Florida, Van Jefferson is one player who's stock has surged immensely over the last year. The Gators pristine route runner was among those participating in the annual Reese's Senior Bowl where he demanded a surplus of attention due too his shifty moves and ability to create separation.
Jefferson's hype around him stems from his projectability at the next level, where he can see action inside at the slot position as well as being split out wide. His length of 6-feet-2-inches indicates that he's more suited to play the boundary position in the NFL as it would allow him to stretch the defense vertically more often.
The former Gator posted his final stat line in Gainesville with 49 catches, 657 yards, and six touchdowns. Jefferson's college numbers don't jump off the page, but the narrative around the scouting community suggests that he could see an uptick in production once he cracks into the NFL because of his detailed routes and clean releases.