After months of pouring over scouting reports and watching film until I could no longer see straight, it’s showtime.
The NFL Draft kicks off at 5:00 tonight in Las Vegas.
San Francisco has needs along the interior of the offensive line, cornerback, safety, and pass rusher.
Here’s how I see the next three days playing out for the 49ers.
Round 1, pick 20: Tyler Linderbaum, Center, Iowa
The draft starts off without many surprises near the top. However, that all changes at pick 9 when the Seattle Seahawks select Malik Willis. The Liberty quarterback had been the top target for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
With their quarterback of the future off the board, Pittsburgh strikes a deal for a quarterback who can help them win now.
While all the attention had been around a potential trade of Deebo Samuel getting the 49ers into the first round, the trade they eventually make is Jimmy Garoppolo.
Pittsburgh sends pick 20 to the 49ers in exchange for Jimmy Garoppolo and pick 61 in this draft. As part of the deal, San Francisco agrees to pick up $10 million of Garoppolo’s salary for 2022.
In Linderbaum, the 49ers go back to Iowa to find a player they feel can be their center for the next 10 years. A three-year starter for the Hawkeyes, Linderbaum allowed only two sacks and 11 hurries.
Round 3, pick 93: Trade. San Francisco sends pick 93 to Cincinnati in exchange for picks 95 and 174.
Round 3, pick 95: DeAngelo Malone, Edge, Western Kentucky
San Francisco likes to have speed off the edge opposite Nick Bosa, and that’s exactly what they get in Malone.
In three seasons with the Hilltoppers, Malone racked up 27 sacks and 72 hurries.
Malone isn’t expected to be a three down player early in his career; however, his speed will be a welcome addition on second and third down.
Round 3, pick 105: Cordale Flott, Cornerback, LSU
Flott is on the lean side, weighing in at only 175lbs however, he plays bigger.
While he primarily played in the slot for the Tigers, Flott has the ability to play outside as well.
Flott allowed only 23 receptions on 45 targets for 249 yards last season.
Round 4, pick 134: Kyle Phillips, Wide Receiver, UCLA
The top slot receiver in the draft, Phillips gives Kyle Shanahan a shifty receiving presence inside to go along with the physicality of Jauan Jennings.
Last season, Phillips made 59 grabs for 739 yards and 10 touchdowns.
He’s drawn comparisons to Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp throughout the draft process.
Round 5, pick 172: Brian Robinson Jr, Running Back, Alabama
Robinson was forced to sit behind Najee Harris early in his career with the Crimson Tide.
Finally given his opportunity in 2021, Robinson averaged over 5 yards per carry on his way to 1,343 yards. He added 35 receptions for 296 yards.
At 6’2”, 225, Robinson brings power to the 49er’s backfield. His presence will spell the end for either JaMycal Hasty or Jeff Wilson Jr in San Francisco.
Round 5, pick 174: Jason Poe, Guard, Mercer
Poe is easily one of the most athletic offensive linemen in this draft. The issue here is his size, at 6’2”, 295lbs, Poe is undersized for the NFL.
This selection gives the 49ers another interior offensive lineman who can play either guard position or center. At this point, Poe is a bit of a developmental project for offensive line coach Chris Foerster.
Round 6, pick 187: Leon O’Neal Jr, Safety, Texas A&M
O’Neal has the type of versatility San Francisco looks for in their safeties.
During his time with the Aggies, O’Neal could be found lining up deep, in the box, or covering in the slot.
Round 6, pick 220: DaRon Bland, Cornerback, Fresno State
Bland started his collegiate career at Sacramento State before transferring to Fresno State in 2021.
Standing 6’2”, 200 lbs. with long arms, Bland has the type of size and length the 49ers look for in their outside cornerbacks.
In his lone season with the Bulldogs, Bland was targeted in coverage 50 times and allowed only 21 receptions for 274 yards.
Round 6, pick 221: Matt Araiza, Punter, San Diego State
San Francisco put an emphasis on improving their special teams play this offseason, making the selection of Araiza an easy one.
In addition to being dubbed “The Punt God” for his ability to boom punts, Araiza also handled the kickoff duties for San Diego State in 2021. His ability to put the ball into the end zone for touchbacks, 62 of 73 last season, would be a welcome addition for a San Francisco unit which rarely saw this over the last two seasons.
Round 7, pick 262: Brock Purdy, Quarterback, Iowa State
With Trey Lance and Nate Sudfeld as the only quarterbacks on the roster, San Francisco will need to add someone before training camp.
Purdy drew a lot of attention by leading Iowa State to upset victories over Oklahoma and TCU in 2019. Since then, the shine around Purdy has dimmed.
His athleticism and ability to hit throws between the numbers makes him a solid project quarterback for the 49ers practice squad.