Analyst Calls ‘Ascending Prospect’ an Early Fit for 49ers

Josh Norman

Getty Josh Norman breaks up a pass directed towards Justin Jefferson of the Vikings during the 49ers' November 28, 2021 home win.

The NFL Draft in Las Vegas doesn’t take place until April 28, 2022, but that doesn’t mean teams like the San Francisco 49ers aren’t thinking about who will be on their draft board.

Especially if a certain prospect fulfills a positional need for the 49ers.

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Most mock drafts have the ‘Niners dialing in on getting a cornerback. With four free agents and names like Jason Verrett and Josh Norman likely to walk, plus Dontae Johnson and K’Waun Williams also listed as unrestricted free agents, cornerback becomes a pressing need to address for the 49ers.

Already, Heavy on 49ers mentioned one tall and physical cornerback from a College Football Playoff qualifier as an option via one Bay Area columnist. But are there other names who could come in and become a fit in the Bay Area?

One Pro Football Focus analyst has added one name to watch — and he played his college football on the west coast.

Who PFF called an ‘Ascending Prospect’

Michael Renner of PFF put together his list of “Early and Late Round Fits for All 32 Teams” on Tuesday, February 15.

And his pick for best early fit for the 49ers? University of Washington cornerback Kyler Gordon. Here’s what Renner wrote about the former Husky:

“Gordon is an ascending prospect who could sneak his way into the back end of round one after a strong finish to his first full year as a starter. He’s also proven versatile in Washington’s defense, with 144 snaps in the slot and 527 outside in 2021.”

With that kind of positional versatility, Gordon could become a Williams-type in the future for the 49ers’ defense.

Gordon’s Background at UW

The 22-year-old Gordon played sparingly between 2018 to 2020 until getting more extensive time on the Husky defense in 2021.

He went on to snatch 45 tackles, 36 solo stops, seven pass deflections, two interceptions and a forced fumble per ESPN stats.

But his two picks came in one contest: The September 25 home contest versus Cal that was won by UW in overtime.

Gordon was known in the Pac-12 North for his closing speed on the ball:

At 6-feet, 200-pounds, Gordon shows he’s not afraid to play close to the line of scrimmage and blow up a running play, especially near the goal line.

Gordon’s draft buzz, though, began in 2020:

He also delivered a ball-knocking hit against Utah from that same season:

Gordon does have another draft analyst who likes what he’s seen on film: ESPN’s Todd McShay.

What Other Scout Said

Gordon was labeled an “ascending prospect” by Renner and PFF. Meanwhile, Bleacher Report has taken a liking to his strength and aggressiveness in their scouting report done by Cory Giddings.

Gordon was called a “full-bodied player with good strength. Has length to play against bigger receivers and tight ends.” Plus has “positional flexibility” and is an aggressive player who can jam at the line of scrimmage and plays without panic.

His flaws, though, pinpoint to hip tightness which makes him struggle against twitchier wideouts. He’s also shown to struggle against fighting off blockers when engaged with someone. Lastly, he’s been described as a defensive back with “average foot quickness.”

There are those, however, who believe that Gordon could sneak into the late first round: McShay in his Wednesday report.

But overall, analysts like PFF’s Renner and ESPN’s McShay are high on Gordon — with the former believing he can be a fit for the 49ers. San Francisco could have a longer and more physical version of Williams in the future if he falls to No. 61 overall in the second round, which represents where the 49ers hold their first pick.

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