While the San Francisco 49ers have only a limited number of picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, it’s likely head coach Kyle Shanahan will use one to grab a wide receiver, his favorite position.
There are a number of factors leading into the idea San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan will want to pick up a wide receiver in the 2020 NFL Draft this April.
But it won’t necessarily be easy. After all, the Niners have just one selection (No. 31 overall) in the first four rounds of the draft. True, the team boasts two fifth-round picks, a sixth- and two seventh-round picks. However most of the top-flight wide receivers are going to be long gone by that point.
Unless San Francisco executes a trade down from its top pick, of course.
Grabbing a wide receiver early signals both the positive and negative for Shanahan and the 49ers. Assuming for a moment the Niners trade down from No. 31, picking up perhaps a pick in Round 2 and another in Round 3, grabbing a wideout again would mark the third year in a row the team has spent a day-two pick on the position. In 2018, it was former Washington wide receiver and return specialist Dante Pettis. Last year, it was South Carolina wideout Deebo Samuel.
Pettis seemed a surefire contributor late his rookie season, only to see himself fall out of Shanahan’s favor in 2019. Samuel, meanwhile, looks to be a bona fide contributor for Shanahan’s offense for years to come.
One of two isn’t totally bad.
It might be a bit premature for Shanahan to entirely give up on Pettis in 2020. But given the lack of use down the stretch, along with the assumed difficulty of re-signing veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders this offseason, one has to think Shanahan will take advantage of what looks to be the deepest wide receiver NFL Draft class in quite some time.
This is what Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller wrote about this particular class last November:
The 2014 class is often heralded as the deepest in modern history. Not only were five receivers taken in the first round (Sammy Watkins, Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Brandin Cooks and Kelvin Benjamin), but the subsequent rounds also saw Jarvis Landry (Round 2), Davante Adams (Round 2), Allen Robinson (Round 2), John Brown (Round 3), Martavis Bryant (Round 4), Quincy Enunwa (Round 6) and even the undrafted Willie Snead all become good producers at the position.
The 2020 class might be better than that.
Shanahan admitted he’s harder on wide receivers than any other position, probably related to the fact the head coach played it during his college football days.
Whether that had any bearing on the 49ers grabbing wideouts in back-to-back Round 2s of the draft the last couple of years is anyone’s guess. But what isn’t up for much dispute is the likelihood Shanahan will want to find yet another top-flight talent available in this year’s class.
Sanders’ probable departure, combined with Pettis’ disappearance in 2019, drives home the issue. So does the realization the Niners received very little production from their top speedster at the position, Marquise Goodwin, who hasn’t been much of a factor since nearly cresting 1,000 receiving yards back in 2017.
Simply put, San Francisco has a lot of bodies at wide receiver entering this offseason, even if Sanders departs. Outside of Samuel and to a lesser extent, Kendrick Bourne, there are still too many questions left unanswered.
Plus, Shanahan’s preference for wide receivers only adds to the idea the 49ers will grab one.
Especially if they execute that would-be trade down from No. 31, picking up an extra pick to throw at one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory.
The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23.