Welcome to a world without Alabama in the College Football Playoff. The 2020s already are off to a weird start.
Instead of being one of the final four teams remaining in college football, the Crimson Tide will face Jim Harbaugh and his Michigan Wolverines in the Citrus Bowl on Wednesday morning. To no surprise, this game will be full of draft prospects.
Below we'll look at six players the 49ers should be scouting as they enjoy their bye week before the divisional round in the playoffs. We also left off top prospects like Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, who certainly will be taken by the time the 49ers are on the clock at the end of the first round.
Also, Alabama defensive stars Trevon Diggs and Terrell Lewis have opted to sit out. With that being said, pour some coffee and keep your eyes locked in on these players.
Xavier McKinney, S, Alabama
Look around at mock drafts and McKinney's name most likely will pop up for the 49ers. And for good reason, too.
Safety could be a big position of need next year and general manager John Lynch surely will have his eyes on McKinney. Jimmie Ward, who is enjoying a career-year, has battled injuries ever since San Francisco drafted him in 2014 and will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
McKinney, 6-foot-1, 200 pounds, has a bit of Minkah Fitzpatrick in him. He is a versatile defensive back who has 55 tackles -- 4.5 for loss -- in 12 games this season, with three interceptions, five passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
Alabama safety Xavier McKinney always trusts his instincts. Once he sees it, there’s little time wasted with attacking. pic.twitter.com/9Kh6L4fSkk— Jordan Reid (@JReidNFL) November 25, 2019
Xavier McKinney 81 yards TO. THE. 🏠 pic.twitter.com/n91fztB0de— ESPN College Football (@ESPNCFB) November 23, 2019
McKinney could form a dangerous duo in the defensive backfield with Jaquiski Tartt. Don't be surprised if Lynch, a former safety himself, has McKinney high on his board.
DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
Jeudy and Ruggs won't be around when the 49ers are on the clock. But the Crimson Tide's No. 3 receiver will be. Don't think of him as a third receiver, though.
Smith, 6-1, 175 pounds, is a first-round talent who could fall in a loaded class. The junior isn't the biggest option, however, his speed and craftiness will play at the next level.
DeVonta Smith had an unforgettable day for Bama:— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 28, 2019
🔥 11 catches for 274 yards
🔥 5 TDs (single-game school record)
🔥 Passed Amari Cooper for most receiving yards in single game at Bama
Smith enters the Citrus Bowl with 65 receptions for 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. Putting him in Kyle Shanahan's offense could be a nightmare for opposing teams.
Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Michigan
People-Jones was the top receiver prospect in the class of 2017. He has 14 touchdown receptions the past two seasons, but hasn't exactly caught college football on fire by any means.
He dealt with injuries this season and only has played in 10 games. Michigan's offense hasn't helped him, either. Still, the 6-2, 208-pound target has plenty of potential.
Peoples-Jones would be a big deep threat for QB Jimmy Garoppolo. With a big showing at the NFL Scouting Combine, he should warrant a long look from the front office.
Nico Collins, WR, Michigan
Collins, at 6-4 and 222 pounds, has an ideal frame as a physical receiver. The junior could be a matchup problem in the NFL and has the needed ball skills.
He can even be a big option out of the slot, too. Over the last two seasons, Collins has caught 13 TDs.
Shea Patterson —> Nico Collins: Michigan TD pic.twitter.com/QyXUUFtMSt— Brad Galli (@BradGalli) November 16, 2019
Alabama has a trio of top receiver prospects this upcoming April, but Michigan has a pretty intriguing duo as well.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
We've already stated why the 49ers might look at top running back prospects like J.K. Dobbins and Travis Etienne, despite having an array of options already. Harris right now isn't seen in the same group as Dobbins or Georgia's D'Andre Swift, but he should be.
With Josh Jacobs and Damien Harris gone, Harris was able to showcase his full skill set this season. The 6-2, 230-pound junior has rushed for 1,088 yards and 11 TDs this season, and has averaged 6.2 yards per carry at 'Bama.
Where he really has stood out this season, though, is in the passing game. Harris came int the season with 10 receptions for 52 yards and no TDs. This year, he has 27 receptions for 304 yards and reached the end zone seven times.
One of the most impressive catch and runs I’ve ever seen. Najee Harris did it all on this play. pic.twitter.com/MeGqCZT8NJ— Clint Lamb (@ClintRLamb) September 14, 2019
Harris is a ridiculous combination of speed, power and athleticism. If he declares for the draft, he shouldn't be slept on.
Ben Bredeson, G, Michigan
The NFC West champions are in a solid spot. They really don't have too many holes on their roster right now. With the 49ers picking at the bottom of the first round, they might want to added depth to their interior offensive line.
Bredeson could be the answer.
MI LG Ben Bredeson (74) takes his man off the screen on this play. He's been a finisher since arriving in Ann Arbor who does not give ground in pass pro. I suspect you'll be seeing him starting in the NFL for the next decade. #SnapScout pic.twitter.com/DSvC6v6ApX— Chad Reuter (@chad_reuter) December 26, 2019
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The 49ers are locked up on the outside with Joe Staley and Mike McGlinchey. At guard, they currently use a rotation of Laken Tomlinson, Mike Person and Daniel Brunskill. Let's see how the 6-5, 325-pound Bredeson does against the Crimson Tide's defense.
This game should be full of NFL talent.