The next big NFL spectacle involving the San Francisco 49ers, plus the other 31 teams? The scouting combine on Thursday, March 3 in Indianapolis.
Here’s what we know about the 49ers leading into what’s hailed as the shirts and shorts Olympics by some: The 49ers are in dire need of a cornerback and the franchise will not be sending their coaching staff over to Lucas Oil Stadium. The scouting department will instead represent S.F.
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While the most pressing need among 49er fans is bolstering the corner position, unfortunately the 49ers won’t be able to catch that group until the event’s final day on Saturday, March 6. The group that will be up first in day one of the college showcase? Quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers.
Alright, with three franchise cornerstones in the aforementioned trio of positions, there’s likely no need for the 49ers to pay close attention to day one of the combine, right?
Not so fast. With four free agent wideouts and only Jauan Jennings as the exclusive rights free agent (ERFA), wide receiver could end up as a potential draft need for the 49ers.
And there’s one wideout hailing from the same conference that helped produce Deebo Samuel, who happens to have Bay Area roots, who is worth a look by the 49ers in the combine’s debut day.
Who Could be Worth the Look by the 49ers?
The prospect worth watching? Makai Polk out of Mississippi State.
The towering 6-foot-4, 200-pound Polk will be the lone Bulldog representative when he hits the field with the WR group.
Polk, in just one season at Starksville, went on to rewrite the school’s history books in catches and yards in a single season.
In the pass-happy “Air Raid” offense operated by Mike Leach — who back in 2009 produced a future first round wide receiver for the 49ers in Michael Crabtree — Leach and the Bulldogs began to immediately trust Polk as a deep threat option:
The Bulldogs additionally trusted Polk inside the 20-yard line:
But Polk isn’t what you would consider a “one year wonder.” Polk originally was a prized three-star recruit for nearby Cal — and immediately established himself as an early breakout performer.
While in Strawberry Canyon, Polk delivered a knack for turning a simple screen into a “catch me if you can” touchdown.
He executed a similar scoring grab against UCLA during his true freshman season.
Then, his first college season got capped by a 5 catch, 105-yard day in the 2019 RedBox Bowl…with both stats coming all in the second quarter against Illinois.
Polk has experienced two Power 5 conferences and went on to become a 100-catch WR in arguably the nation’s toughest conference. But here’s what else could intrigue the 49ers.
Polk Would be Considered Local Get & Play Alongside Standout From his High School
While Polk will enter the combine as an SEC wideout, he is heading to Indy representing Richmond, California.
Polk grew up 56 minutes north of the 49ers. He played his youth football for the Richmond Steelers of the Snoop Youth Football League — which has had its share of future NFL talent like John Ross and De’Anthony Thomas. He also starred at El Cerrito High, the prep alma mater of 49ers 2021 second rounder and his former Gauchos teammate Aaron Banks.
Perhaps the knock on Polk will be that in the MSU offense, it was created for wideouts like Polk to create yards through shorter routes, which prevented him from facing many press and man coverage looks, with some believing he’s a better fit for past “Air Raid” disciple Kliff Kingsbury and the Arizona Cardinals. However, he did play in a non-Air Raid offense at Cal and briefly caught passes in 2020 in Golden Bear offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave’s scheme (another Ex-49er).
This is not saying that Polk should be the 49ers’ top option at No. 61 of the April draft. However, Polk should be worth monitoring if there’s a desire to draft a receiver after the second round, plus worth the look from the 49ers’ scouts if they want someone to watch before the cornerbacks group.