Michael Pittman

NFL Draft 2020: Five wide receivers 49ers should watch during combine

NFL Draft 2020: Five wide receivers 49ers should watch during combine

The 49ers find themselves at a much different place around this time than one year ago. General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan came to the NFL Scouting Combine with the No. 2 pick in the draft and plenty of glaring holes last year. 

After going from 4-12 to having a double-digit lead in the Super Bowl one season later, the 49ers arrived at this year's combine coming off heartbreak but with plenty of reasons for optimism. They're a team without many needs, though there still are question marks that need answers. 

Lynch reiterated Tuesday how much he believes in quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. But getting the QB more weapons on the outside must happen for this team to take another step forward and continue to be a contender. Despite having a low first-round pick at No. 31 overall, this is the perfect year for San Francisco to target a receiver in the draft. 

[RELATED: Updated NFL mock draft before combine]

This year's draft class is stacked with stud receivers. Playmakers can be picked out of a hat. With that being said, here are five receivers the 49ers should watch during the combine.

Once the 49ers make their first-round selection, they currently don't own a pick again until the fifth round. Each player below could be an option with their first-round pick or if they trade back. 

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State 

It's time to steal a dad joke. Aiyuk is the king of YAC (yards after catch), so he's now officially Brandon AiYAC. Hold your applause. 

On a more serious note, Aiyuk averaged a ridiculous 18.3 yards per reception as a senior at Arizona State. He caught 65 passes for 1,1192 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. And he can absolutely fly. 

Aiyuk measured in at just under 6-feet but has an eye-opening 80-inch wingspan. That's a freaky build that can translate to a wild catch radius. While he's a former junior college player and needs some polish, Aiyuk would terrify teams in Shanahan's offense. 

Justin Jefferson, LSU

Jefferson dominated in the Tigers' historic offense as a junior. He hauled in an NCAA Division I-best 111 passes for 1,540 passes and 18 touchdowns. Jefferson also already has talked with the 49ers

On Tuesday, Jefferson said he and the 49ers had an "informal meeting." Jefferson can line up inside or outside, but he really broke out last season when LSU began using him out of the slot. 

Speaking of catch radius, Jefferson's is at the top of the class. Throw it up and he'll go get it. That's what makes him really intriguing. He can make plays in the open field out of the slot like the clip above, and he can snatch a TD at its highest point.

Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado 

Shanahan would have tons of fun with Shenault in his offense. At 6-1 and 227 pounds, the former Colorado Buffalo is a physical freak. A strong combine could really have him rise up the rankings. 

Between his sophomore and junior seasons, Shenault scored 17 touchdowns -- 10 receiving and seven rushing. He's versatile and can be used all over the field, whether on the outside, inside or even out of the backfield. 

Shenault's red flag is an injury history to his labrum, toe and groin. If he's healthy, though, the athleticism is too good to ignore.

Jalen Reagor, TCU 

Reagor also met with the 49ers on Tuesday and compared himself to Deebo Samuel. For good reason, too.

Coming in at 5-11 and 206 pounds, Reagor is built similarly to Samuel. He also has the joystick capabilities and versatility of Samuel. Reagor scored 24 total touchdowns -- 22 receiving, two rushing -- at TCU and averaged 21 yards per punt return as a junior. 

Oh, and he's fast. Really, really fast. 

Reagor could be a healthy Percy Harvin. Do his ball skills translate to his athleticism? That's the big question. 

Michael Pittman Jr., USC

Pittman is quite different than many of the previously mentioned receivers. He isn't a burner and likely won't have a great 40-yard dash time. As far as polish and football IQ go, not many are in the same boat as Pittman. 

Though the 49ers hope to get a healthy Jalen Hurd next season, the 49ers still need a big-body receiver. Pittman is 6-4, 223 and catches everything thrown his way. 

Bet on Pittman. He was highly productive at USC while dealing with multiple QBs. Pittman also was one of the biggest standouts at the Senior Bowl.

Should the 49ers trade back out of the first round, this could be their guy.

NFL Draft 2020: Why 49ers, Raiders fans should watch Holiday Bowl


NFL Draft 2020: Why 49ers, Raiders fans should watch Holiday Bowl

Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, 49ers and Raiders fans have their eyes on the playoffs.

The 49ers have the NFC West title on the line with a showdown against the Seahawks in Seattle, while the Raiders still are alive in the AFC and must beat the Denver Broncos and have a number of other outcomes fall their way to make the postseason. But with bowl season underway, fans for both teams can get a look at possible building blocks for the future Friday. 

49ers and Raiders fans should have their eyes on the Holiday Bowl when No. 22 USC takes on No. 16 Iowa in San Diego. Here are three players to watch as possible targets for the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Tristan Wirfs, OT, Iowa

Wirfs, 6-foot-5 and 322 pounds, is seen as one of the top offensive tackles in the 2020 draft class. He looks the part of a prototypical tackle in the NFL and should be able to contribute right away. 

Though offensive tackle isn't the Raiders' top priority, general manager Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden should have a long talk if Wirfs still is on the board when the Raiders are on the clock with one of their two first-round picks. He's just too talented not to take a look at. 

Wirfs plays right tackle for the Hawkeyes, which might be a negative to some NFL teams. Not the Raiders. They already have Kolton Miller locked up on the left side, and David Sharpe could be the team's swing tackle going forward. They signed Trent Brown to a lucrative contract last offseason and the right tackle was dominant in his first season in silver and black. But Gruden and Mayock know how important the tackle position is, so don't count Wirfs out.

When the Raiders move to Las Vegas, they have to protect Derek Carr, or whoever is playing quarterback.

A.J. Epenesa, EDGE, Iowa 

Epenesa isn't the speediest pass rusher off the edge, which Raiders fans don't want to hear after taking Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick last year. But this won't be a top-5 pick, and Epenesa surely would upgrade the Silver and Black's pass-rush. 

The 6-6, 280-pound junior has combined to record 19.5 sacks, 29 tackles for loss and seven forced fumbles over the last two seasons. Epenesa nearly is impossible to slow down in 1-on-1 situations and has a relentless nose for the ball. 

The Raiders enter Week 17 with only 30 sacks as a team. They have to get after the QB better in 2020, and Epenesa should help that number rise exponentially. 

[RELATED: Sherman still has 'bad blood' for ex-49ers coach Harbaugh]

Michael Pittman Jr., WR, USC

The 49ers and Raiders badly need help at wide receiver. The USC product has put together a huge season and has seen his draft stock rise as a result. A big showing in the Holiday Bowl and an impressive week at the Senior Bowl could make him a first-round draft pick. 

San Francisco will select at the end of Round 1 and Pittman should still be on the board. This is one of the most stacked wide receiver draft classes in years, a sentiment 49ers and Raiders fans will love to hear. 

The Raiders likely will target a receiver ahead of Pittman with their two first-round picks, but they shouldn't stop there. This team needs as much help as possible at the position. Mayock will have three third-round picks to work with and easily could trade up to grab Pittman in the second round if he still is available.

Pittman uses his whole 6-4, 220-pound frame to snatch balls from defensive backs and is physical in the open field. He comes into the Holiday Bowl with 95 receptions for 1,222 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Whether you're a 49ers or a Raiders fan, keep your eyes on the Trojans' playmaker.