The list of potential local options continue to grow for the San Francisco 49ers — as they’ve already checked in on Daniel Scott of Cal, Viliami Fehoko of San Jose State, Kyu Blu Kelly and the Stanford prospects plus have Lafayette native John Torchia of Wisconsin possibly visiting for the 49ers’ Pro Day.
But now, a massive and powerful UCLA star who has Bay Area ties is on deck to visit the Niners: Offensive lineman and native of Shoreview, California Atonio Mafi.
Per Justin Melo of The Draft Network on Friday, March 24, the 49ers are among the teams that are having a top 30 visit with the 6-foot-4, 355-pound Bruin. Melo adds Mafi had a virtual visit with the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos while additionally having a dinner/workout meeting with the New Orleans Saints.
Mafi Grew up 25 Miles North of Levi’s Stadium
Mafi’s name is again the newest to surface among the potential Bay Area options for the Niners. Shoreview is a suburb of San Mateo, and is 25 miles north of Levi’s Stadium.
Mafi originally grew into his role as powerful and imposing defensive tackle at the high school level — once standing at 6-foot-3, 360-pounds at California state powerhouse Junipero Serra High School (best known as the prep alma mater of Tom Brady). He became the nation’s 88th best defensive tackle option by 247Sports composite for the class of 2018.
The three-star prospect, however, showed he can shove and plant opponents to the ground on offense as well — manning guard and tackle for the Padres and emerging as a powerful run blocker in his prep days. He ended his prep career playing for two state titles and won his senior season in 2017 over Cajon High of San Bernardino.
After committing to UCLA, Mafi was originally plugged on the defensive line, which included a four tackle night against Fresno State. He then played in 12 games on defense in 2019 and was credited for three stops in five games. The truncated 2020 season, though, was the time when Mafi moved over to offense…and went on to man left guard.
Breakdown: Mafi Has Blocking Fit for 49ers
We’ll start with this: Mafi already got used to blocking for a 1,000-yard rusher and in a run-oriented offense…perfect for Kyle Shanahan.
Mafi is a big reason why Zach Charbonnet had plenty of space to run through, as one of his lead blocking options. But in looking at his rare short-area foot speed, he’s able to execute skip pull techniques like this:
But Mafi isn’t just at his best on running plays. He shows he has a strong set of eyes in identifying the attempted defensive lineman stunt — then goes into a bouncer role.
His organs above the nose came in handy here too versus rival USC. The Trojans throw what looks like a linebacker blitz up Mafi’s side. The rusher redirected outside on a twist clearly designed for the edge rusher to knife inside untouched, as they attempted to get Mafi drawn to the blitz. The edge option, however, meets Mafi’s arms and the end of his pursuit of quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson.
Mafi is not someone who stands around looking lost. He’ll provide an assist with one powerful chip block that’s enough to redirect an oncoming rusher.
As a pass blocker, Mafi shows a strong mix of balance and using his powerfully built long arms to keep defenders in check. However, he has been caught resorting to reaching when paired with quicker pass rushers. He would have to adjust fast if he were to be placed in practice sequences with Arik Armstead, Nick Bosa, former college rival Drake Jackson and even newcomers Javon Hargrave and Clelin Ferrell.
But overall, Mafi could be worth the day three of the draft find for the 49ers as a depth piece.