49ers Called to Grab Ex-1st Round Projection at WR, ‘Low Risk Gamble’


Getty The 49ers celebrate a touchdown on October 3, 2022 in Santa Clara versus the Rams.

Early first round projections don’t always stay as day one predictions for the NFL Draft. But talent falling like that could get the San Francisco 49ers to swoop in for the steal.

And in the case of the former teammate of 49ers 2022 third round running back Ty Davis-Price, one draft analyst believes this past first round projection is worth being a “low risk gamble” for the Niners.

Draft analyst for the Pro Football Network Ian Valentino wrote on Saturday, April 1 this name he believes is worth grabbing on the 49ers’ end: Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte from LSU.

“Taking a gamble on a player once mocked in the first round one year ago could go worse for the 49ers. With both Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings heading toward the end of their rookie deals, Kayshon Boutte is a low-risk gamble for a team with a few extra compensatory picks,” Valentino wrote, who has Boutte being taken at No. 102 to close out day two of the draft.

Boutte Followed Lineage of Past LSU Greats, Including Needing to Replace Super Bowl Wideout

Boutte was considered a prized local signing for LSU out of New Iberia, Louisiana — located 90 minutes from Baton Rouge.

And the state of Louisiana’s No. 1 overall prospect by 247Sports composite for the Class of 2020 immediately was asked to step in for one departed future first rounder in Ja’Marr Chase.

Boutte didn’t take long to establish himself in his home state: Earning All-Conference honors in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) and became a freshman All-American after hauling in 45 catches, 735 yards and scored five touchdowns. His touchdown number then rose to nine in 2021, which in turn made him a potential early first round WR by early mock drafts.

Eventually in 2022, he was inspired to switch his jersey number to No. 7 — a number worn by past Tiger greats in Super Bowl champs Tyrann Mathieu, Leonard Fournette, also Patrick Peterson and his teammate plus third overall pick of the 2022 NFL Draft Derek Stingley. Boutte ended up producing a career-best 48 receptions but finished with 538 yards and two scores — having started in 10 of his 11 games of action.

Boutte Brings Burner Element for Offenses

Boutte is certainly a dynamic player — one capable of raising his level of play the bigger the games become. He delivered six catches for 107 yards against Georgia in the SEC title game loss while catching seven passes versus Alabama and producing a 115-yard day against Anthony Richardson and the Florida Gators.

But he immediately won over LSU fans with this historic outing versus Ole Miss his freshman season:

On the field, he’s a vertical threat who shows a strong second gear following his release. It comes with a twitchy plant then go to gain separation against his defender.

Boutte would most definitely qualify as a “YAC” option for the 49ers, as his game is based on yards after the catch and speed.

The downside to Boutte is that he was captured relying too much on catching off his speed and not through extending his hands on throws away from his body. He showed an underdeveloped catch technique which led to critical drops. Then there’s the injury history, with him needing surgery twice on his right ankle.

History Would Repeat Itself if 49ers Pivot to Boutte

There would be two history repeating elements the 49ers will pull if they do take in Boutte.

For starters, it’ll mark the second straight draft the Niners will take in someone from LSU, which rejoins Boutte with Davis-Price.

Secondly, the 49ers would be drafting a wide receiver in the third round for the second straight year after taking Danny Gray to end day two of the draft in ’22. The last time that happened was in 2006 and 2007 when the 49ers took Brandon Williams in the former draft out of Wisconsin at No. 84, then grabbed Jason Hill at the 76th spot in the latter session.

Boutte, though, would be considered a gamble worth taking on if available and if the 49ers choose to address WR in one of their first three picks of the third.

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