Anyone who watched the Thursday, March 3 nightcap of the NFL Scouting Combine saw the speed go off on the Lucas Oil Field grass.
The wide receiver group electrified those in attendance and those who watched the fast-paced action in Indianapolis. And fans of the San Francisco 49ers, plus the scouts and general manager John Lynch in attendance, witnessed the fireworks on display.
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Bleacher Report called the 2022 WR group the fastest to ever do it:
And already, fans of the 49ers began thinking about one wideout prospect who turned heads and turned them into thinkers of a repairing between he and Trey Lance: Christian Watson out of North Dakota State.
But the bad news came from one beat reporter of the 49ers — detailing the “only way” that Watson can become a 49er.
‘Watson Isn’t Making it to 61’ Insider Says
With a deep crop of wideouts, and with Watson coming from the lesser-renowned Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), this means the towering and freakishly athletic Bison receiver won’t go in the first round, right?
Jack Hammer, 49ers reporter and insider of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, doesn’t seem to think so.
“Christian Watson isn’t making it to 61,” was the first sentence Hammer tweeted after watching Watson blaze the 40.
But the next part is the wild scenario that the 49ers would have to pull off if they were to draft Watson — and potentially reunite two NDSU stars together in the Bay Area.
“The only way the 49ers have a shot is if they trade into the first round,” Hammer claimed.
And how would they do that?
“It would take trading away George Kittle to make that happen,” Hammer said below.
We can agree Watson is a stud who would do damage in the 49ers’ offense if they, somehow, swoop him up come late April. Watson would give the 49ers a needed height/speed collaboration that wasn’t often seen this past season as the team gravitated toward a more physical, run-oriented identity.
But we can also agree with Hammer: It just became harder for the 49ers to draft Watson even with his ties to Lance (who also reacted to watching his teammate put on a show). Plus it’s highly doubtful the 49ers would trade an All-Pro for an incoming rookie.
With a tall frame and a sub 4.3 40-yard dash time, you know NFL teams will instantly gravitate toward trying to nab Watson before selection No. 50 — especially receiver-needy teams like the Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins with Ex-49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel in South Beach.
WR Class is Deep Enough to Where the 49ers Have Other Options
Even if the 49ers don’t get Watson, let alone settle for a wideout at No. 61, the deep pool of receivers who ran below a 4.4 are likely to still be around between the third and early fifth rounds. In scouring online, here’s three who I noticed 49er fans became a fan of, and who can be a potential fit in later rounds:
Calvin Austin III, Memphis: Blazer from the Tigers who ran a 4.32 40-yard dash. Austin may have a size dilemma at 5-foot-9, 162-pounds, but he established himself as a back-to-back 1,000-yard receiver at Memphis. And he’s taken handoffs.
Khalil Shakir, Boise State: Another gadget-type player from the Group of Five realm. Shakir has a slightly stockier build at 6-feet, 190-pounds. From 2019 to 2021, he scored between 6 and 9 combined touchdowns. Plus he’s a 4.35 guy.
Wan’Dale Robinson, Kentucky: In staying with the theme of diminutive but explosive wideouts, the 5-foot-8, 178-pound Robinson is another field stretcher who ran a 4.38 on Friday. While Robinson thrived in a Los Angeles Rams-type offense at UK, his size may drop him to later rounds…but can be a strong secondary slot option.
But if the 49ers pivot to a tall target, Mississippi State’s and Bay Area native Makai Polk — who starred at the same high school of 2021 49ers second rounder Aaron Banks — showed off his consistent hands and focus at Indy…which could appeal to the 49ers.