The 49ers’ selection of Nick Bosa at No. 2 overall was the move that most in the NFL scouting world expected and viewed as a sensible pick.
But after polling a number of NFL scouts and evaluators prior to the draft, long-time reporter Bob McGinn of BobMcGinnFootball.com labeled the 49ers’ choices of wide receivers Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd, and punter Mitch Wishnowsky as “questionable.”
McGinn shared what scouts said about the team’s draft class on the 49ers Insider Podcast.
McGinn, who has been conducting pre-draft polling of NFL scouts for 35 years and was a Pro Football Hall of Fame honoree in 2011, said he asked 16 evaluators this year to rank their best pass rusher in the draft. Bosa received nine votes. Josh Allen of Kentucky (five) was the only other prospect receiving multiple votes.
McGinn said many scouts compared Nick Bosa favorably to his older brother, Joey, a Pro Bowl player with the Los Angeles Chargers.
Said one scout whom McGinn quoted in his pre-draft coverage, “They move alike but I think he’s more fluid than (Joey). The guy is tough, athletic, knows how to play and used his hands. I’m not sure what you wouldn’t like.”
Another scout told McGinn that he feels Nick Bosa is already at his ceiling because he is not a great athlete. For instance, Bosa ran 0.4 of a second slower than Mississippi State edge rusher Montez Sweat in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“I think he plays a lot faster, people have said that,” McGinn said. “And he knows how to bend. He knows how to rush. His hand use is way progressed for somebody his age and his experience level. I just think he’s going to find a way to get to the quarterback.”
The 49ers selected South Carolina wide receiver Deebo Samuel with the No. 36 overall pick. Samuel was the third receiver chosen in the draft. Samuel was sixth in McGinn’s scout-based ranking of wideouts. The 49ers selected him ahead of D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown and Parris Campbell, each of whom ranked higher.
“The corners in this league are going to swallow him up outside,” one scout told McGinn of Samuel. “Has to be (a slot).”
McGinn added, “He’s a big, thick guy, so he should be able to release off press coverage with his power.”
After the 49ers selected Samuel, coach Kyle Shanahan responded to a question about whether Samuel (5-foot-11, 214 pounds) is solely a slot receiver.
“Playing on the outside, to me, has to do with being able to threaten guys on a go route and that has, to me, nothing to do with height,” Shanahan said. “That has to do with how explosive you are and how fast you are, and you can run by people. That allows you to play outside the numbers, so people have to back up and then you can run every other route.”
Samuel was also regarded as one of the top kick returners in the draft. He came back from a season-ending fractured fibula in 2017 to catch 62 passes for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior.
“He had a bad injury a couple of years ago,” McGinn said. “The feeling also is that the longer he goes on from that, the better off he’ll be.”
Baylor receiver Jalen Hurd, who measured at 6-4 ¾, was down on the list of McGinn’s rankings. He said no evaluator even mentioned Hurd’s name until late in the process. McGinn said he moved Hurd up a little because a favorable opinion came that from a particular "excellent" scout meant that Hurd “was legit.”
Still, McGinn was a little skeptical of the 49ers going with receivers back-to-back in the second and third rounds.
“It wasn’t a great year for wide receivers,” McGinn said. “To take two in the first 67 picks from this wide receiver group, seems like you’re on the wrong side of the draft a little bit.”
The 49ers came back with their first pick of Day 3 and selected Utah punter Mitch Wishnowsky in the fourth round, a move McGinn found curious.
“I know after you lose (Bradley) Pinion, you need one,” McGinn said. “It just seems high to me.”
In a deep class of tight ends, the 49ers picked up Stanford’s Kaden Smith in the sixth round. Smith turned pro after his redshirt sophomore season. Smith ran the second-slowest time among all tight ends at the combine.
“He didn’t run a good 40 and that killed him,” McGinn said. “That knocked him down a couple of rounds. But he plays faster, he’s got good size, and the history of Stanford tight ends is good. He came out a year early. That surprised some people.
“I think he has a chance to be a good, solid two behind (George) Kittle.”
McGinn summarized the 49ers’ eight-player draft class.
“I think it’s an OK draft,” he said. “We’ll all find out in three years.”