Citrus Bowl

NFL Draft 2020: Six prospects 49ers fans should watch in Citrus Bowl

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AP

NFL Draft 2020: Six prospects 49ers fans should watch in Citrus Bowl

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. 

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. 

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. 

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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. 

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. 

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.

[RELATED: Why 49ers fans should watch the Outback Bowl]

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.

Citrus Bowl: Why 49ers, Raiders fans should watch Kentucky vs. Penn State

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AP

Citrus Bowl: Why 49ers, Raiders fans should watch Kentucky vs. Penn State

The end of the 2018 regular season means it's time for playoff football. Well, not for the 49ers and Raiders. For the Bay Area, it's NFL draft season.

When Kentucky takes the field Tuesday against Penn State, one player could be an option for either the 49ers or Raiders with their top pick. Plus, there's two others the Bay Area should pay attention to in the Citrus Bowl. 

Josh Allen, OLB/DE, Kentucky 

Will Allen be the 49ers' selection with the No. 2 pick in the draft? He very well could be. But if he falls to No. 4, the Raiders could jump at the chance of adding him. 

Allen is the exact kind of prospect both teams badly need. And they'll both get an front-row view of him at the Senior Bowl

The All-American has 21 sacks over the last two years and 29 tackles for loss in that span. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report has him going to the 49ers in his post-regular season mock draft, saying the 6-foot-5, 260-pounder is "the next best move (after Nick Bosa) for a team desperate to add a pass rush."

Amani Oruwariye, CB, Penn State

The 49ers should hope Oruwariye falls to the second round. They finished the regular season last in the NFL with only two interceptions and need to add to their cornerback depth with too many question marks. 

Oruwariye has great size for the position at 6-1 and 203 pounds, and as The Draft Network points out, he "anticipates route breaks and combinations at a high level." 

Over the last two seasons, Oruwariye has seven interceptions and 18 passes defensed. While he isn't seen as a No. 1 need, the rangy corner is actually predicted to go to the Raiders with the team's third pick in the first round, according to CBS Sports' latest mock draft

Here’s how 49ers and Raiders fans can watch Kentucky play Penn State in the Citrus Bowl:

When: Tuesday, Jan. 1, at 10 a.m. PT
TV Channel: ABC
Live Stream: ABC Go App