The San Francisco 49ers enter the NFL Draft with six picks, including the second overall selection and three in the top 100. They have the tools necessary to build off of a strong free agency in their pursuit of a Super Bowl.
Kyle Shanahan enters his third year as the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers with raised expectations. They attempted but failed to acquire New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in a trade, yet still managed to improve the roster with several significant signings. Where do they go from here? I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator to explore avenues for them in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Team Needs: EDGE, CB, S, WR, OL, LB
Round 1, Pick 2: Quinnen Williams, DL, Alabama
Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell learned from the combine the 49ers are torn between edge rusher Nick Bosa and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams with the second overall pick. The report claims their “heart” says Williams, but “head” says Bosa. The silver lining is at least one of them will be available no matter whom the Arizona Cardinals select with the first overall selection. In this particular mock Arizona picked Kyler Murray, so I choose Williams over Bosa.
I concede edge rusher is still a more significant need than defensive tackle despite the Dee Ford signing. However, I have read that Williams has an Aaron Donald type of ceiling, and we have seen what interior pressure can do to a passing game when successful.
Prolific passers such as Drew Brees and Tom Brady have folded in the face of inside pressure and combining the already dynamic tandem of DeForest Buckner and Arik Armstead with the rookie Williams sounds deadly. After all, the only thing better than a collapsed pocket is no pocket.
Round 2, Pick 36: Nasir Adderley, S, Delaware
Aside from the Jason Verrett signing, the 49ers stayed mostly in-house when addressing the secondary. They retained Jimmie Ward, Greg Mabin, and Antone Exum. The secondary had by far the worst coverage grade in the National Football League according to Pro Football Focus, while the team as a whole registered just two interceptions. Verrett can’t be relied upon given his injury history, which makes secondary still a considerable need.
Adderley has shown terrific ball skills on tape, showcasing the ability to make tough interceptions routinely. While he has cornerback experience, will be most suited in a single high safety role in the NFL, though he can also line up in the box where he is extremely physical in run support.
His time spent in the film room is evident on the field, falling in line with his competitive nature. He could be one of the leaders of the 49ers defense for years to come and a gem in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Round 3, Pick 67: Andy Isabella, WR, UMass
The 49ers tried and failed to acquire Odell Beckham from the Giants, and despite bringing in Jordan Matthews, wide receiver remains a need.
Isabella might not be the alpha wide receiver San Francisco sought in Beckham, but his quickness and ability to win in space is exactly the kind of receiver Shanahan prefers. Not just quick in the intermediate area, he has the speed to beat defenders deep.
His size regulates him to only a slot role, but in today’s NFL, that is pivotal. Isabella amassed 15 receptions for 219 yards receiving and two touchdowns against one of the best defenses in the country in Georgia.
Round 4, Pick 104: David Long, CB, Michigan
Jason Verrett was signed to a one year “prove it” deal to bolster the secondary, but relying upon him would be foolish. San Francisco should still be in the market for corner help.
As it stands, Long’s skill set projects him to be a boundary press corner, yet he lacks the size to fill that role. Long will most likely have to occupy the slot to start. Even though he is a bit small to be on the boundary, he could be a bully in the slot, getting receivers off their scheduled releases and disrupting the timing of passing attacks. He was productive his final year at Michigan, earning first-team All-Big Ten honors.
Round 6, Pick 176: Ryan Bates, OT, Penn State
Despite finishing 22nd in Football Outsiders adjusted sack rate metric, the 49ers stood pat on the offensive line, much like I expected. Re-signing guard Mike Person was a fantastic decision that kept the offensive line on track to return all five starters. They are solid in the trenches, but not set. Some depth should be added in the draft come April.
Bates is somewhat of a tweener in that he doesn’t profile well as an NFL tackle, but lacks the technique to be a guard. With some physical development he could be a team’s 6th offensive lineman, able to start at multiple positions when needed. Could provide solid depth for San Francisco down the road.
Round 6, Pick 212: Kyle Phillips, EDGE, Tennessee
A former 5-star recruit who had his most productive year in his senior year, earning the Bill Major’s Award for Tennessee Volunteers Defensive Player of the Year. Could be a gem if he lives up to his 5-star rating coming out of High School. This would be a great way to finish the 2019 NFL Draft.