NFL Draft

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

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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.

Why Thaddeus Moss, Randy's son, wants to emulate 49ers' George Kittle

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Why Thaddeus Moss, Randy's son, wants to emulate 49ers' George Kittle

Randy Moss' son, Thaddeus, is paving his own path. And there's a different star he wants to mirror in the NFL. 

The former LSU tight end has his eyes on 49ers All-Pro George Kittle, and not just for the way Kittle dominates with the ball in his hands. Moss highlighted Kittle's "nastiness" when he took to the podium Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine. 

Moss is built much differently than his long and lanky Hall of Fame father. While Randy was listed at 6-foot-4 and a generous 210 pounds, Thaddeus measured in at 6-2 and 250 pounds. He likes to use his big body in the trenches, just like Kittle. 

After a long road in college that included a transfer from a North Carolina State and two surgeries on his foot, Moss played a large role in LSU's championship season last year. He finished the Tigers' undefeated season with 47 receptions for 570 yards and four touchdowns. 

Moss shined in the College Football Playoff National Championship Game, catching five passes for 36 yards and two touchdowns.

[RELATED: Updated NFL mock draft before combine]

Though he isn't a dynamic playmaker, Moss will find a role in the NFL. He knows how to use his body to box out defenders, and is willing to use his physicality as a blocker. 

If there's anybody a tight end draft prospect should look at, it's Kittle. Moss isn't participating in combine drills, but his stock already is on the rise after his interview.

Mike Mayock addresses speculation about Derek Carr's Raiders future

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Mike Mayock addresses speculation about Derek Carr's Raiders future

As has been the case almost every offseason since he arrived in Oakland, Derek Carr has had to deal with widespread speculation about his future as the team's starting quarterback. 

With the Raiders leaving the East Bay for the bright lights of Las Vegas, many have wondered if head coach Jon Gruden and general manager Mike Mayock might look to make a splash at quarterback this offseason, either in free agency or the 2020 NFL Draft. 

Mayock addressed Carr's status Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, preaching his "evaluate everyone approach" while simultaneously lauding Carr. 

"The bottom line is this, I think everybody needs to understand at what level Derek Carr played last year, OK?" Mayock said. "The guy completed 70 percent of his passes. He had almost a three-to-one touchdown to interception ratio. I think we were No. 11 in the league in total yards, we were seventh in third-down conversions. We did a lot of really good things on offense last year. The disconnect was we didn't score a lot of points. You're 11th in yards, but you're 24 in points. There's an issue. 

"It's defense. It's special teams. It's not scoring in the red zone. It's not scoring in goal to go, OK? To me, those are the issues. Derek Carr played at a high level. I'm very happy with Derek Carr. What I've told everybody I've been in touch with since the day I took this job is we're going to evaluate every position, every year. And if we can get better, we will. Guys get tired of me saying that but that's really what I told Mark Davis before I took the job and that's my mantra."

Rumors have linked the Raiders to soon-to-be-free-agent quarterback Tom Brady. Brady, who will be 43 years old when the 2020 season begins, still has plenty of game left and would bring the pizzazz needed for Vegas' NFL franchise. While signing Brady might not make a lot of sense on the surface, if the Raiders were to agree to accelerate their rebuild to accommodate Brady's desire to win another Super Bowl before hanging it up, then the marriage could work

Mayock wasn't biting on the Brady questions Tuesday. 

"I don't make anything of any rumors," Mayock said. "All I can tell you about free agency -- because I'm not allowed to talk about any of them anyway -- is I have watched tape of just about every guy out there at every position. All that does is uphold what I am telling you that every position gets evaluated every year and if we can upgrade it we will."

Aside from the Brady rumors, the Raiders also have two first-round draft picks in a class with three stud signal-callers. While LSU's Joe Burrow will be off the board at No. 1, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Oregon's Justin Herbert also have the desired skills to be franchise signal-callers. The Raiders would have to trade up to select one of them, though, and that's something they should avoid based on the number of needs the team has. 

[RELATED: Why Raiders should look to Sanders to revamp receiving corps]

While Mayock and Gruden will look to evaluate and improve each position if they can, the smart money is on Carr taking the first snap in Las Vegas for the Raiders next season. 

He showed great improvement in Year 2 of Gruden's system, and if the Silver and Black can improve the receiving corps, then Carr should be in line to expand upon his success with Gruden next season.