Most fans of the San Francisco 49ers likely remember who the franchise took at No. 36 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft, despite the injury concerns involving this talented wide receiver from the Southeastern Conference.
The NFL world first got to know the name Deebo Samuel out of South Carolina that evening — who had to overcome constant hamstring injuries and a broken leg, yet was still viewed as a talented prospect. Now the league knows Samuel as an All-Pro performer who helped change the phase of the 49ers’ franchise.
Could the 49ers be in a eerily similar situation this upcoming draft? Especially with the receivers as the first group set to take the field for the workouts portion of the NFL Scouting Combine on Thursday, March 3?
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Turns out the ‘Niners, as one NFL analyst pointed out, has the chance to draft “one of the biggest steals of this class” who shares two things in common with Samuel: He’s another SEC standout who has had to overcome his own career-threating ailment.
Addition can Upgrade Slot Position & add Deep Threat
On the Monday, February 28 edition of Heavy’s I’m Just Saying, the duo of Brian Mazique (Heavy on Patriots) and Paul “Boy Green” Esden (Heavy on Jets) debated on who would be a potential future target for Trey Lance and the 49er offense.
The guys began thinking about guys who can stretch the field and work the middle of the defense as a slot target. But rather than going with a free agent, Esden went with a past national champion as the 49ers’ option: John Metchie III out of Alabama, who once caught 8 passes for 81 yards to help spearhead the 52-24 romp of Ohio State to win the 2020 national title:
“I’m going to cheat the question and give a draft target out there that could be a good mid-round target. I’ll take John Metchie out of Alabama. He could plug in there nicely there in the slot and he’s coming back from injury.
He will tumble down the board because of injury but the 49ers are in an advantageous situation where they don’t have to draft someone that has to be this dominant guy right away. They can select him, let the guy get healthy, then deploy him when it truly matters deep in the season and in the playoffs.
San Francisco has championship aspirations and they can afford to draft someone that can help out later. He is an experienced receiver that has a full route tree from his time at Alabama and could be one of the biggest steals of this class.”
Metchie has ‘Above-Average’ Skill Set When Healthy
Metchie once had to share the aerial love with wideouts named Jaylen Waddle, Jerry Jeudy and Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith. But he delivered 96 catches, 1,142 yards and scored 8 touchdowns as the Crimson Tide’s No. 1 option.
But it came to halt in the SEC title game with an ACL tear…which is why Esden brings up the possibility Metchie could fall.
Still, when healthy, the 6-foot, 195-pounder possesses “above average” traits as Bleacher Report’s Nate Tice stated in his scouting report of Metchie.
Metchie has been described as a technician as Kendell Hollowell of the NFL Network and Tide 100.9 FM in Tuscaloosa stated.
Matt Bowen of ESPN pointed out how Metchie is skilled at attacking the underneath routes versus linebackers especially when facing zone coverage:
Finally, here’s a move that could intrigue the 49ers if they need a slot or even an extra red zone option: Metchie busts the “whip route” to beat rival Auburn — a maneuver reminiscent of what Antonio Brown pulled on Tyrann Mathieu in Super Bowl 55:
Esden isn’t the only analyst who linked the Tide/SEC wideout to the ‘Niners. Josh Schrock of NBC Sports Bay Area mentioned Metchie as a “day two draft possibility” in his February 7 column.
“Metchie has the size and quickness to line up both outside or in the slot,” Schrock wrote. “He’s an elite athlete with great stop-start ability who will excel in an offense that gets the ball to its playmakers in space. Sound familiar?”
The 49ers may not end up taking Metchie at No. 61 overall. The incoming rookie also isn’t expected to work out again until June. But the 49ers have a great chance to add to their SEC lineup at WR alongside Samuel and turn him loose when he’s fully healthy and healed.