With the NFL Scouting Combine canceled this year due to COVID-19 concerns, the Senior Bowl became the premier scouting event ahead of the draft. While the 49ers' coaching staff didn't lead one of the two teams like they did two years ago, San Francisco still was well represented in Mobile, Ala.
One prospect the 49ers met with was Notre Dame edge rusher Daelin Hayes, who said the two sides had a "great meeting."
Hayes was a fifth-year senior this past season for the Fighting Irish and recorded three sacks and six tackles for loss over nine games. The 6-foot-3 258-pound defensive lineman finished his college career with nine sacks, four forced fumbles and 20.5 tackles for loss.
Hayes impressed throughout the week at the Senior Bowl. He left Mobile with more fans, and likely more money in his pocket in the future. Hayes proved he has the strength and moves to be a productive pass rusher at the next level.
While some fans might be sick of seeing the 49ers take defensive lineman early and often in the draft, rushing the passer again will be a big need for this team in the offseason. Nick Bosa will be back from a torn ACL, but Dee Ford's health is far from a sure thing. He only played one game last season while dealing with a plethora of injuries and issues. Plus, Kerry Hyder Jr., who led the 49ers with 8.5 sacks, is set to be a free agent.
The 49ers averaged just 1.9 sacks per game this season, which ranked 22nd in the NFL. They were third in the league the previous season, averaging 3.2 per game. San Francisco has to get back to sacking the quarterback, and Hayes could certainly help.
Even if he isn't a first-round pick, Hayes would bring depth to the 49ers' pass-rush attack, and that's exactly what they need.