Why the 49ers Drafted OL Dominick Puni

An offensive lineman was always expected to be drafted at some point by the 49ers and they ended up choosing to draft Dominick Puni. Here is why.
Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas offensive lineman Dominick Puni (OL59) during the 2024
Mar 3, 2024; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas offensive lineman Dominick Puni (OL59) during the 2024 / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive line was the top position mocked to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL draft.

They did end up taking one, but it wasn't in the first round as presumed. The 49ers drafted Kansas offensive lineman Dominick Puni in the third round with pick No. 86. Puni is an intriguing player with versatility and didn't allow a sack in his last two seasons of college football.

That is surely part of why the 49ers liked Puni and decided to pull the trigger on him. Here is what general manager John Lynch had to say about the 49ers drafting Puni.

"He’s a solid football player. He is," said Lynch. "And he’s a guy we got out here on a 30 and I think got comfortable with the person and just got to, it’s always nice to, it’s not essential, but it’s nice to be around them a little bit more and see them in an environment with their peers and how they interact and how they interact with our coaches. And there was a good feel there. We liked the tape, liked the versatility and wanted to make him a Niner.”

Puni played left tackle this past season and was solid at it, but he looked his best as a guard. It will be interesting to see where the 49ers want to place him going forward. Lynch made it known that Puni will be a guard for them, but will they allow him to compete for the right guard spot?

It isn't something he has done before. Yes, he has played left guard, but learning right guard forces a player to essentially flip their technique. Not everyone is capable. Aaron Banks couldn't manage it his rookie season and it derailed him until he returned to left guard. So, it'll be curious to see how the 49ers bring Puni up.

"Our belief is that we’re going to start him on the inside as a guard," said Lynch. "But the cool thing about Dominick is, it’s not often you can say this about a player, that he can play all five. And we believe that’s the case with him. He snapped in practice, he snapped in the Senior Bowl down in Mobile, played some center in the game, played left tackle in ’23, guard in the previous year.

"And so, we believe he has it in him, and that’s really a cool thing to have in a player. And he can do it at a high level. So, it’s part of the reason we moved up to take him there and really fired up about him.”

Jose Sanchez