Final Drill: Where the 49ers can go From Here After the Combine

Logan Hall

Getty Logan Hall of Houston talks to reporters during the 2022 NFL combine. Hall is considered a potential fit for the 49ers.

No more cones, no more backpedaling, no more high jumps, no more interviews and finally, no more sitting up in the club seats or the fan seats at Lucas Oil Stadium if you’re the San Francisco 49ers.

The NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis has wrapped up — and by now John Lynch and company should have a stronger idea of who looks like a future 49er.

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During the Lynch era as general manager, the 49ers have used this event to select their future franchise cornerstones. Names like Deebo Samuel, Nick Bosa, Brandon Aiyuk and, to go back further in Lynch’s first draft as a GM, George Kittle were guys they saw compete in combine workouts before eventually becoming 49ers.

Now, with nine picks and plenty of talent to scout during the first week of March, here’s where the 49ers should go from here between now and the NFL Draft.

Defensive Backs & Wide Receivers Group Has Plenty to Choose From for the 49ers

Let’s start with the latter: There will be plenty of field stretchers available…even after the 61st pick (which the 49ers currently hold). A whopping eight receivers ran below 4.4 in the 40-yard dash in Indianapolis on Thursday, March 3.

There’s no need to feel pressured into drafting a wideout with your first draft selection if you’re the 49ers.

With so many wideouts who ran a sub 4.4 40-yard dash, crazy thing is not all of them will get drafted in the first or second round. Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports now has the first wide receiver going at No. 11 overall in his Monday, March 7 post-combine mock draft, then has three more going in the first round.

But to reiterate: This is a loaded WR class and names like Velus Jones of Tennessee, Christian Watson of North Dakota State (who we’ll get to later in this story), John Metchie of Alabama, Khalil Shakir of Boise State and a sleeper prospect like Skyy Moore of Western Michigan all could be available past the second round. Who knows, the fastest wideout Tyquan Thornton of Baylor, who blazed the 40 with a record time of 4.21, could be lingering around past No. 61 since he hasn’t been listed as a first or second round talent.

The 49ers hold the 93rd pick and a compensatory pick via the Miami Dolphins in the third round. It’s a guarantee that one decorated wideout or a 4.3 40-yard dash blazer would still be available should S.F. gravitate toward a field stretcher.

Is cornerback the specific need still? Sterling Bennett of 95.7 The Game in the Bay Area thinks otherwise, plus included how linebacker Fred Warner feels about the situation:

Regardless, the corner unit dealt with injuries, inconsistency and in the case of the NFC title game, two 100-yard receivers from the Los Angeles Rams. So that position is going to be mentioned as an area needing upgrades.

Kaiir Elam looks appealing and could fall out of the first round. The Florida Gator turned in one of the faster times among the CB group on Sunday.

The long and physical Elam could give the 49ers an option in man coverage. He took on some of the best the Southeastern Conference (SEC) had to offer and neutralized whoever he went against. And he’s still likely not going to be the first SEC cornerback taken as Derek Stingley of LSU is projected to have that distinction. Elam would be a strong get at 61 if he falls.

Another option is the versatile Kyler Gordon of Washington who brings physicality and versatility. Some mocks list his teammate Trent McDuffie as the better prospect — which could mean Gordon falls into the middle of second round.

Trenches Have Options

There will likely be newcomers in the trenches, especially after Lynch’s admission that D.J. Jones will be hard to keep.

But there are options along the line of scrimmage who tested impressively. One is towering 6-foot-6, 283-pounder Logan Hall of Houston who ran a 4.88. He could form a scary tall trench trio with Arik Armstead and Charles Omenihu.

Jones’ possible replacement has to come from the draft. The most ideal late round three-technique fit is Thomas Booker of Stanford who impressed with his quickness in Indy. He could be appealing at the compensatory spot in the third or No. 133 in the fourth.

Finally, What to do With Kittle

Four words: Do not trade him.

Yes, Watson put on a show and 49er fans are envisioning Lance and Watson back together. But why trade a perennial Pro Bowler, even with his injury history, for a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) wideout with no 1,000-yard seasons even with his freakish skills? Keep Kittle.

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