NFL draft 2019: 49ers enter second round with receiver atop list of needs

NFL draft 2019: 49ers enter second round with receiver atop list of needs

Now that defensive end Nick Bosa has been secured with the team’s first-round draft pick, the 49ers can shift focus toward addressing their biggest remaining need.

If the team’s list of 30 visits is any indication – and it most certainly is – the 49ers want to add a wide receiver very soon. Nearly half of the 49ers' visits were filled with wide receivers. And the 49ers will have the opportunity to add a wideout after waiting through three selections in front of them Friday in the NFL draft.

“There’s a lot of guys who we like and there’s different reasons to bring them in,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said this week of the class of receivers. “Just like any position, that may be a spot where we try to improve our team. Fortunately, in this year’s draft, it seems to be a good stable of guys who can help.”

That help could come quickly.

The Arizona Cardinals will kick off the second round Friday with the No. 33 overall pick. The 49ers own the 36th selection. The 49ers are also scheduled to pick at No. 67 overall on Friday, the third draft slot in the third round.

Teams that finish with the same record rotate positions after each round. The 49ers, New York Jets and Raiders finished with 4-12 records, so those teams switch draft slots among themselves in each round.

In Thursday’s first round, only two wide receivers were selected, leaving the 49ers in position to take a player who ranks highly on their board.

Oklahoma speedster Marquise Brown was the first receiver off the board, going to the Baltimore Ravens with the 25th overall pick. The defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots used the final pick of the first round on N’Keal Harry of Arizona State.

The player that many pundits ranked as the top receiver in the draft class, D.K. Metcalf of Ole Miss, does not figure to be someone who would interest the 49ers. Metcalf and the 49ers clashed during a meeting at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Metcalf has unbelievable physical tools to go along with his size. He is 6-foot-3, 228 pounds and ran a blazing 4.33 seconds in the 40-yard dash. But he is not known to be a good route-runner, an attribute that coach Kyle Shanahan values above all others.

There may also be some medical concerns about Metcalf after he sustained a neck injury during his final year of college.

The 49ers are determined to land a starting wide receiver in the draft to pair with Dante Pettis, the team’s second-round draft pick of a year ago. Marquise Goodwin had a breakout season in 2017 before seeing his production diminish last year due to injuries. The 49ers would like to bring in a starting-caliber receiver to enable them to find a more specialized role for Goodwin, similar to how Shanahan used Taylor Gabriel during their time together with the Atlanta Falcons.

Kendrick Bourne, Jordan Matthews, Trent Taylor, Richie James round out the 49ers' corps of veteran receivers.

Here are some legitimate options at wide receiver for the 49ers in the second round:

Deebo Samuel, South Carolina

Samuel (5-11, 214 pounds) opened some eyes during the Senior Bowl with his route-running while playing for the 49ers-coached South squad. He has a running back’s body, and he utilizes his frame to be difficult for defensive backs to bring down after the catch. He ran a 4.48 in the 40 at the combine.

The 49ers have struggled in the red zone, and Samuel proved to be very good near the goal line with his ability to get open quickly. In his final season at South Carolina, he caught 62 passes for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns.

A.J. Brown, Mississippi

Metcalf might have gotten all of the pre-draft hype due to his physical skills, but Brown was the much-better receiver during their time together in college. Brown (6-0, 226 pounds) was ultra-productive, catching 85 passes for 1,320 yards and six touchdowns during his final college season.

Brown is a very good route-runner and produces yards after the catch. He ran a 4.49 at the combine and exhibits good short-area quickness, which would enable him to line up at a variety of positions, including the slot.

Riley Ridley, Georgia

Ridley is a very polished receiver who certainly did not help himself at the combine with a 4.58 time in the 40-yard dash – a clocking that was much slower than expected. But the film shows him to be an accomplished route-runner, which scores him some big points with the 49ers.

Ridley (6-1, 199 pounds) caught 44 passes for 570 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior before opting to declare for the NFL draft. He will be selected at some point Friday.

Parris Campbell, Ohio State

Campbell is a home-run hitter who helped himself with his showing of speed and hands at the NFL Scouting Combine. Campbell (5-11, 205 pounds) ran a blazing 4.31 in the 40. A knock on him are his hands, but he caught the ball effortlessly during drills in Indianapolis.

He is coming off a productive season at Ohio State, where he caught 90 passes for 1,063 yards and 12 touchdowns. He is a threat to score every time he touches the ball due to his explosion with or without the ball.

[RELATED: 49ers receive straight-A grades for picking Bosa]

J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Stanford

Whiteside had a great senior season at Stanford, catching 63 passes for 1,059 yards. Both of his parents played pro basketball in Europe, and he flashed his basketball skills in the red zone by boxing out defenders and going up to catch 14 touchdowns.

But, like with Butler, the 49ers will have to be convinced that Arcega-Whiteside (6-2, 225 pounds) runs routes well enough to get open against top-level competition at all spots on the field. His favorite route is the back-shoulder fade.

Hakeem Butler, Iowa State

Butler looks the part, for sure. When he made a recent visit to the 49ers’ team complex in Santa Clara, he stood out among the other receivers due to his 6-5, 227-pound frame. He has an inherent advantage in the red zone because of his size, but Shanahan wants receivers who can get open in the middle of the field. That is the only question about Butler.

He caught 60 passes for 1,318 yards and nine touchdowns. He ran a strong 4.48 in the 40. But does he have the change-of-direction skills to get open against NFL defensive backs?

49ers mailbag: Could co-coordinators ease Kyle Shanahan's workload?

49ers mailbag: Could co-coordinators ease Kyle Shanahan's workload?

It has been two weeks since the 49ers’ loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV. That’s more than enough time to turn the page and look ahead.

So that’s what we’re doing -- with the help from some of our Twitter friends. Here is the first offseason edition of the 49ers Mailbag.

Kyle Shanahan is one of the best play-callers in the NFL. I don’t think there’s even a question about that. Is there? So I can’t envision any scenario in which Shanahan stops doing the thing he does best.

Shanahan certainly believes McDaniel and LaFleur are ready to call plays. McDaniel and LaFleur are, in essence, co-offensive coordinators. They are responsible for putting together the first components of the weekly game plan.

Through the first three seasons together with the 49ers, they have found a pretty good rhythm together and Shanahan finds himself placing more trust in them. What they’re doing is working.

If the 49ers have the $19 million-plus in cap room to devote to a franchise tag for Arik Armstead, then I think they could work out a long-term deal that would work for both sides.

As for the question about a tag-and-trade, I’m sure you’re thinking about how the Kansas City Chiefs tagged Dee Ford a year ago and, then, traded him to the 49ers. In that instance, the Chiefs had Frank Clark on the line, so that made sense.

In this case, I don’t think there’s anyone who plays Armstead’s position they would prefer over him. Armstead is exactly what the 49ers need: A defensive end on base downs who moves inside next to DeForest Buckner to rush the passer in nickel situations.

There is no need for the 49ers to do anything with Thomas, except work with him to continue to improve and become more valuable as a rotational player on the defensive line. The 49ers certainly will not pick up the fifth-year option on Thomas for the 2021 season. But with Thomas’ rookie contract guaranteed, there is no cap advantage in parting ways with him this year.

Regardless, Thomas should have a significant role next season. But if for whatever reason Armstead is not back, Thomas has a strong chance to be a starter.

The possibility of recouping a draft pick is part of the reason the 49ers felt compelled to make the trade in the first place. In my opinion, they would have preferred Mohamed Sanu, who was under contract through the 2020 season. But the Patriots offered the Atlanta Falcons a second-round draft pick, and the 49ers did not have a second-round pick after dealing it to Kansas City for Dee Ford.

Instead, the 49ers acquired Sanders and a fifth-round pick from Denver in return for third- and fourth-round draft picks. The 49ers do not figure to be active with veteran acquisitions on the free-agent market this offseason, so it is likely the 49ers have more losses than gains. If Sanders is a loss, the 49ers would stand a good chance of picking up a compensatory pick for the 2021 draft.

Get stronger. Work. Work. Work.

Pettis had a good offseason program a year ago, but he was not the same player when he came back for training camp. Other receivers on the team came back stronger at the opening of camp. Pettis did not. That is why Pettis struggled and fell out of favor to the point he rarely played in the second half of the season.

Pettis needs to take it up another few notches to get stronger and avoid the nagging injuries that also set him back last season. Pettis has more ability than almost anyone on the team to run some of Shanahan’s favorite routes. He will have an opportunity to prove himself in the offseason and training camp this year.

If Jalen Hurd and Pettis are both healthy, I think the answer is Hurd. The reason is because of his size and his unique skill set.

I envision Hurd being a big part of the 49ers’ two-minute offense because of his versatility. The 49ers can line him up anywhere in the formation, including running back. That puts the onus on the defense to figure out how they want to treat him. Is he a runner, wide receiver or tight end? Then, based on the defensive personnel, the 49ers can exploit those weaknesses.

[RELATED: Juice sick of Jimmy G, Shanahan criticism after Super Bowl]

The draft takes place more than a month after free agency. So the answer to this question could change, based on what the 49ers’ roster looks like at the time of the draft. But, right now, if the 49ers hold onto the No. 31 overall pick, the team can choose among the best available wide receiver, cornerback or defensive lineman.

There are two ways to look at this. But if there’s a team willing to move up to No. 31 overall, then that is the default move. It would make a lot of sense to sit out the first round of the draft to come away with multiple picks on Day 2.

But if there is someone at No. 31 with whom the organization has fallen in love, then they should take that player. The advantage of holding onto the first-round draft pick is that the 49ers would control the contract rights to the player for five years, instead of four.

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk sick of Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan criticism

49ers' Kyle Juszczyk sick of Jimmy Garoppolo, Kyle Shanahan criticism

Losing the Super Bowl was tough on the 49ers, to say the least. It was especially tough for the team's fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, who hated hearing the criticism of Jimmy Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan, his quarterback and coach.

"Those are two guys that have absolutely nothing to prove to the rest of the guys in the locker room," Juice said Friday on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football." "You look at Jimmy, for people that are stats guys, 4,000 yards passing, better than a two-to-one, touchdown-interception ratio, 70 percent completion."

He added with that alone, you're looking at a "phenomenal quarterback."

"For whatever reason, Jimmy just gets this extra criticism, this extra heat, but I think at one point in the game he was like 19-for-22," Jusczyk said. 

"That's football, though -- you just change one or two plays in the game, and the whole dialogue changes, the whole narrative."

Juice mentioned the moment that could have put Jimmy G in the same category as Tom Brady as a Super Bowl MVP. The moment that could have led to the 49ers popping champagne in San Francisco amongst the faithful.

That could have been a game-changer.

The play in question caused wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders to storm out of the media room following the Super Bowl LIV loss to the Chiefs. Garoppolo's overthrow in the fourth quarter changed everything.

[RELATED: What Juice regrets most from 49ers' Super Bowl collapse]

And they know it. Jimmy knows it. Sanders knows it. Shanahan knows it. 

"It's a shame that one or two plays can really change everyone's outlook on someone," Juszczyk said.