A month ago, the San Francisco 49ers had zero chance to grab Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy in the 2020 NFL Draft. Now, with the No. 13 pick, he’s a reality.
It was tough to see the San Francisco 49ers trade away Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts at the start of the league new year. And it was almost as tough watching veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders depart the team in NFL free agency for the New Orleans Saints.
But there are two hidden bonuses from these departures. The first, the Niners now have a clear and obvious hole at wide receiver.
And by parting ways with Buckner, San Francisco now owns the No. 13 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Before the Buckner transaction, there was no way the 49ers had a shot at arguably the top receiver in this year’s class, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy’s teammate, Henry Ruggs III, was also all but out of the question. Same with LSU’s Justin Jefferson.
Jeudy is fully in play now, and head coach Kyle Shanahan would literally have his staff run to the podium if the 6-foot-1, 193-pound receiver was still available when San Francisco’s number is first called.
There’s a possibility it could happen, too.
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller put together a mock draft for Round 1, selecting Jeudy to the 49ers at No. 13 overall:
There’s the fit in Miller’s words: route running.
Shanahan’s wide receiver fits are predicated on two primary elements: speed and route-running abilities, and one could argue the head coach prefers the latter over the former.
There’s little doubting Jeudy’s route-running skill. And even in Alabama’s run-heavy offense, Jeudy still managed to be awfully productive, posting 1,315 and 1,163 receiving yards in 2018 and 2019, respectively.
Jeudy performed well enough at the NFL Combine, running a 4.45 40-yard time. It’s not at the elite level, sure. But when paired with his exceptional route running, one can see how the separation abilities come into play and should carry over into the pro ranks:
Grabbing Jeudy, who is viewed as the top receiver in this year’s NFL Draft, would be an excellent consolation prize to San Francisco. He’d be a perfect long-term replacement for Sanders, and the ability to grab him with the pick used in the Buckner trade would turn wonders.
And even if another team picks up the talented wideout before the 49ers’ number is called, there are still plenty of top-flight options available.
One of them will certainly be there at No. 13.
The 2020 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23.