NFL draft 2021: Guide with 49ers' list of picks, biggest needs


When the 2021 NFL Draft kicks off in Cleveland in two weeks, 32 teams will have an opportunity to change the future of their franchise. 

With this year’s class featuring some of the most talented quarterback prospects in recent memory and a deep pool of wide receivers, the next Patrick Mahomes or DeAndre Hopkins could be sitting in the green room on April 29. 

The Jacksonville Jaguars are on the clock expected to draft Trevor Lawrence at No. 1 overall. Here is everything else you need to know ahead of the draft:


When is the 2021 NFL Draft?

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 29, when all 32 selections in Round 1 will be made. Rounds 2 and 3 take place on Friday, April 30, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, and Rounds 4 through 7 will be on Saturday, May 1, beginning at 12 p.m. ET.

What is the 2021 NFL Draft order?

After the 2021 NFL Draft order was finalized in mid-March, the San Francisco 49ers traded up to the No. 3 overall pick. The Miami Dolphins then traded the No. 12 pick they got from San Francisco to the Philadelphia Eagles for the sixth overall pick. More trades could shake up the order before the draft begins, but here’s how it stands as of now:

Will this year’s draft be in person or virtual?

After the NFL held a virtual draft in 2020 due to COVID-19, this year’s draft will be held in person in Cleveland. Some of the top prospects will be there to take the stage when they’re selected, while others will appear from their homes. Lawrence declined an invitation to Cleveland and will watch the draft at Clemson.


Can fans attend the 2021 NFL draft?

Yes, fans are allowed to attend this year. A select group of fans who are vaccinated will be chosen by each of the 32 NFL teams and will be seated in the "inner circle" near the main stage. The league’s main website has more information on NFL Draft tickets and events.

How can I watch the 2021 NFL Draft?

The draft will be broadcast live on the NFL Network, ESPN and ABC on all three days.

How many draft picks do the 49ers have in 2021?

The San Francisco 49ers hold nine picks in the 2021 draft after making some trades and being awarded two compensatory picks. 

We’re all well aware of how the 49ers landed their first pick, but perhaps not quite as familiar with the others.

They received a third-round compensatory pick after former defensive coordinator Robert Saleh became head coach of the Jets and former executive Martin Mayhew became GM of the Washington Football Team. That helped make up for the loss of their original third-rounder (74th overall), which was sent to Washington in the Trent Williams deal. The 49ers also received a fifth-round compensatory pick following Emmanuel Sanders’ departure for New Orleans in free agency. 


The 49ers have two additional picks acquired via trade -- a fifth rounder received from the Saints as part of the Kwon Alexander deal and a seventh rounder acquired from the Jets in the Jordan Willis trade.

Here is a list of all the 49ers’ 2021 draft picks:

First round: No. 3 (from Dolphins via Texans)

Second round: No. 43 (own pick)

Third round: No. 102 (compensatory pick)

Fourth round: No. 117 (own pick)

Fifth round: No. 155 (own pick)

Fifth round: No. 172 (from Saints)

Fifth round: No. 180 (compensatory pick)

Sixth round: No. 194 (own pick)

Seventh round: No. 230 (from Jets)

What are the 49ers' biggest needs?

While the quarterback position might not be the team’s most pressing need with Jimmy Garoppolo on the roster, the 49ers made their intentions to take their QB of the future loud and clear by pulling off a blockbuster trade to get the No. 3 pick in the draft. 

Who that quarterback will be -- whether it is Mac Jones or Justin Fields or Trey Lance -- remains the real mystery.  

The 49ers were able to make a trade of that magnitude by filling many of their offseason voids through free agency, primarily by bringing back their own players.


Even with the loss of Richard Sherman, the 49ers’ cornerback corp is essentially set after re-signing Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley and K’Waun Williams. But they are still in need of depth at the position, as well as long-term solutions. There is also a lot of uncertainty at safety, especially after next season. 

The team addressed its defensive line by signing Samson Ebukam and bringing back Jordan Willis on a one-year deal, alleviating the loss of 2020 sack-leader Kerry Hyder. The 49ers' rush could get a big boost if Nick Bosa and Dee Ford make healthy returns, but that could be a big if following such serious injuries. So, adding another body to throw into the mix on the edge would be wise. 

They brought back the crown jewel of their offensive line in Trent Williams on a record-breaking $138 million contract, and also made an upgrade at center by signing a veteran in Alex Mack. But questions remain on the O-line, particularly at right guard and for the long-term answer opposite Williams at right tackle. 

The loss of Kendrick Bourne to the Patriots leaves the 49ers in need of a third wide receiver behind Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Trent Sherfield, a former Cardinal wideout used primarily on special teams, could step into the slot after being signed by the 49ers as a free agent. But with a draft class rich with wide receivers, and with a lot of pressure on the front office to put their soon-to-be quarterback in position to succeed, the 49ers could opt to add an extra set of hands.        


49ers’ draft needs: QB, CB, S, OL, EDGE 

Mike Gavin contributed to this story