Putting the 49ers Draft Pieces Together

The Top-30 visits give clues on the 49ers' plans for draft day.
Nov 25, 2023; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) smiles after
Nov 25, 2023; Columbia, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) smiles after / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers’ recent draft history predicts that they select the players they meet with, be it a Top-30 visit, a formal interview, or a zoom call. Break down the contact by player, position, and round then patterns emerge. Who, when, and why?

First Round – 31
OT: The focus is on the 2nd round with UW’s Roger Rosengarten and BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia.

C/G: Too early. The center class is ten deep, and there’s not a big drop-off in talent.

WR: ESPN’s Adam Schefter has heard Adonai Mitchell of Texas goes earlier than 25. The 49ers had a formal interview at the Combine and a 30 visit with South Carolina’s Xavier Legette, he brings needed physicality and the ability to beat man-to-man coverage.

DT: Jer’Zhan Newton of Illinois has the numbers as a disruptor inside in the pass rush and against the run. The Niners attended his recent pro day, but haven’t met with him. They have visited with Ohio State DT Michael Hall Jr. (50-63) and Oregon’s Brandon Dorlus (82-94).

Edge: Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline says the 49ers are interested in Missouri’s Darius Robinson as an inside-outside DL replacement for Arik Armstead. Robinson fits the recent draft history, they met with him at the Combine, he has the preferred body type, and this is how they react after losing players. That said, in my view, this would likely be a whiff.

Robinson lacks explosion, he has the slowest 10 and 40 times in the edge class and the shortest broad jump. He’s too slow off the line and plays too upright, and the Mobile practices where he got praised were based off using the extra space of the 1-on-1s to beat his man.

DB: The draft offers Jekyll and Hyde choices. A 4.28 shutdown corner in Nate Wiggins of Clemson who can’t defend the run. Kool-Aid McKinstry an elite cover corner that doesn’t consistently invest in his run D. Ennis Rakestraw who is clearly slower, good on coverage, and the draft’s best in run D. T.J. Tampa a size/speed hybrid with fewer weaknesses.

Given Wiggins came in for a 30 visit he’s under consideration despite the weak run defense. Add that he’s only 20 years old and will fill out and Wiggins is a tangible option.

FS: The Niners didn’t talk with Cooper DeJean or Tyler Nubin, they visited with Javon Bullard of Georgia (75-90) and Calen Bullock of USC (55-65).

Projected Options at 31, if they drop:
WR Xavier Legette (South Carolina)
DT Zer’Zhan Newton (Illinois)
Edge: Darius Robinson (Missouri)
DB: Nate Wiggins (Clemson)

They pass on Newton if they think they can get Hall or Dorlus later. I hope they pass on Robinson. Which leaves two surprise finalists: Legette or Wiggins. I’ll pick one in my mock tomorrow.

An Aiyuk Trade?
A trade seems more possible after the contract that Amon-Ra St. Brown just signed with Detroit at $30 million per and $77 million guaranteed. It may take Aiyuk beyond the 49ers budget.

I have an Aiyuk trade column coming out soon to talk about options, and the one deal I think could go down. Back to the draft.

2nd Round – 40-55
This would be a trade to target Rosengarten, if the Niners believe that will be necessary. This can be from a trade down out of 31, an Aiyuk deal, or a trade up from 63. Take your pick, but the Niners have made it clear they like Rosengarten and a small move up assures they get him.

2nd round – 63 if they still have it
If the pick is still in hand, then it’s Hall or Bullock in that order.

3rd round – 94
The Legette pick is key, if he is not chosen in the first then this is the Kyle Shanahan weapon pick between Javon Baker of Central Florida or Jalen McMillan of Washington. 94 may need to be combined with a 4th to move up to get one of these receivers.

If Legette is taken in the first, then this pick is which position is still needed, defensive tackle or safety, looking at Dorlus and Bullard.

4th round – 124
Once again defensive tackle or safety is the likely question, this time looking at Northern Iowa defensive tackle Khrystian Boyd or safety Malik Mustapha of Wake Forest. Other possibilities include Penn State tight end Theo Johnson and offensive tackle Caedan Wallace, linebackers Cedric Gray of North Carolina and Trevin Wallace of Kentucky, Utah edge Jonah Elliss, and Notre Dame DB Cam Hart.

4th round – 132 if they still have it
This pick could be used in a deal up for Rosengarten or Baker. If not, a second swing at the 124 group.

4th round – 135 if they still have it
A third swing at 124, adding a center, possibly Pitt’s Hunter Nourzad or Wisconsin’s Tanor Bortolini.

5th round – 176
If the Niners have not selected a DB then Decamerion Richardson of Mississippi State here. He had a formal interview with the team at the Combine and also came in on a 30 visit.

The 6th and 7th round picks may be dealt out, or match up with 30 visit players including:
DT: McKinnley Jackson (A&M), Evan Anderson (Florida Atlantic)
Edge: Braiden McGregor (Michigan)
LB: Tatum Bethune (Florida State) Darius Muasau (UCLA)
S: Sione Vaki (Utah)
OL: Trente Jones (Michigan)
RB: Blake Watson (Memphis)
WR Bub Means (Pitt)

Tom Jensen