As is the case with Jimmie Ward, the 49ers are going to have a tough time trying to re-sign veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders after his abbreviated stint in San Francisco.
Sanders, who’ll turn 33 years old this March, is likely going to be cashing in on his final big-number contract at the NFL level this offseason. With limited resources in cap space, the Niners may instead look to take advantage of a very deep NFL Draft class at the position.
Plus, one has to figure head coach Kyle Shanahan wants to dip into this pool.
Route running is atop the list of Shanahan’s preferences. And few in this year’s draft are as polished and elusive as Ohio State’s K.J. Hill.
At 6-foot-0 and 192 pounds, Hill makes up for his relative lack of size by being able to find open spaces and work beyond those covering him. While he’s not strong enough to overpower by strength alone, Shanahan’s offense has long since favored getting open over beating one-on-one matchups.
That’s where Hill could fit in seamlessly.
The Niners have more than a few other questions at receiver, too. Outside of Deebo Samuel and, to a lesser extent, Kendrick Bourne, the 49ers can’t feel overly comfortable about their receiving crop. Two-year pro Dante Pettis had a year to forget in 2019, while slot receiver Trent Taylor has been injured the better part of the last two years.
Jalen Hurd, who might fit into more of a tight end or H-back role, has yet to take a snap at the NFL level.
In Round 4, the Niners can afford to go after someone with a lot of upside despite the concerns, and Hill fits the bill nicely.