49ers 2020 NFL Draft needs: Lynn Bowden Jr. a perfect find for Kyle Shanahan

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 19: Lynn Bowden Jr. #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats gestures during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 19: Lynn Bowden Jr. #1 of the Kentucky Wildcats gestures during a game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Sanford Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers have a stockpile of day-three picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, and Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. could be a unique weapon for head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense.

The 2020 NFL Draft class is laden with wide receivers, and would be foolish to think the San Francisco 49ers won’t take advantage of this considering their own needs at the position.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan will likely look at some of the top names in the draft, Colorado’s Laviska Shenault Jr. or TCU’s Jalen Reagor, potentially to eyeball with the Niners’ top pick, No. 31 overall.

But with five picks currently split between Rounds 5 through 7, it wouldn’t be shocking if Shanahan and general manager John Lynch consider a wide receiver on day three of the draft.

If this winds up being the case, Kentucky wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. is a player to consider.

Bowden isn’t a wide receiver, per se. He’s more of an offensive weapon, capable of providing slot-like duties in the receiving game, but also serving as both a running back and fill-in quarterback during his collegiate years:

Lynn Bowden Jr. Rushing & Receiving Table

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 2/29/2020.

If one subscribes to the idea Shanahan is trying to create something of a “positionless” offense, a player like Bowden makes a lot of sense in Rounds 6 or 7. The 5-foot-11, 204-pound Bowden has plenty of versatility and showcases more strength than his relatively smaller frame suggests.

Whether it be a slot receiver, a running back on end-arounds and sweeps or even a fill-in quarterback, Bowden can do a lot, as shown in the highlight video below:

Let’s stick on the dual-threat quarterbacking aspect a bit. A player of Bowden’s caliber would be valuable in that sense, not necessarily for on-field duties, but as part of the scout team.

Considering the Niners have to deal with mobile quarterbacks, Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Kyler Murray of the Arizona Cardinals, twice a year, having someone like Bowden to practice against has its merits.

Yet Shanahan’s offense is predicated on creating yards after the catch. And this is what Makes Bowden so special, as our friends over at NFL Mocks pointed out:

"Bowden’s run after catch ability is phenomenal. Put the ball in his hands and he instantly becomes a weapon. Bowden tracks the ball pretty well using his size to create separation between the ball and defender. He has plus speed and quickness that is showcased on screens and underneath routes. Not only can Bowden contribute on offense, but he can be a very exciting kick and punt returner."

So why isn’t Bowden being looked at as a day-one or day-two draft option?

Bowden has his limitations. He fits into the proverbial “jack of all trades, master of none” category. He does a lot of things well, but there isn’t exactly one area in which he thrives outside of being versatile. His route running isn’t as sharp as Shanahan would like, there were fumbling issues in college and a position switch to quarterback late in 2019 hindered his would-be maturation as a receiver.

There are possibly some teams who would look at Bowden as a third- or fourth-round pick at the highest, but it seems more feasible the offensive weapon falls into Round 6 or 7. Gadget weapons are nice, but teams rarely want to use a mid-round pick on a player who still has a lot to prove by the way of just making an NFL roster.

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Still, a late-round flier is worth using on a player like Bowden, should the 49ers be in position to grab him with one of their five picks split between Rounds 5 through 7.