With pre-draft visits being so crucial to the San Francisco 49ers draft process, we will keep you updates as they become available. The 49ers already have schedule visits with WR Tavon Austin (West Virginia) and FS Jonathan Cyprien (Florida International), and now they can add the player formerly known as the “Honey Badger” CB Tyrann Mathieu to that list. The news should be encouraging for the Forever Faithful, as they clearly view shoring up the secondary as one of its highest priorities.
Mathieu who’s stock has been rising, despite his off-field issues, will be this year’s CB Janoris Jenkins (St. Louis Rams). Last year, Jenkins was widely considered a first-round talent, however due to character concerns dropped to the second-round, and I see the same for Mathieu. Many NFL Draft pundits project Mathieu to go in the third to fourth round, however since the 49ers have an abundance of picks, I expect them to gamble in the second-round and nab the former LSU product.
Not only will Mathieu solidify the slot, but he will be the ideal match-up to counter the Seattle Seahawks newest acquisition WR Percy Harvin. Let’s face it, CB Carlos Rogers will be eaten alive if he lines up across Harvin, as he doesn’t possess the 4.4 speed needed to compete stride for stride. That’s where Mathieu comes into play. The former SEC Defensive Player of the Year winner, will be able to use his physicality to bump Harvin off his routes, while maintaining great position.
However, Harvin may not be the only slot receiver the 49ers have to deal with within the division. I have predicted the St. Louis Rams to draft WR Tavon Austin to replace the departed WR Danny Amendola (Patriots). Austin is an absolute blazer, running a 4.34 (40-yard dash). Is there anyone on the 49ers current roster that can match that speed? Maybe CB Chris Culliver, but he is better suited to play outside, leaving the 49ers with a huge hole to fill.
Whether the 49ers draft Mathieu or not, one thing remains clear, they need to get faster and stronger at the cornerback position, as the NFL is a pass happy league.