No. 1: Wide Receiver
Projected Starters: Kendrick Bourne, Rookie, Deebo Samuel (slot)
What makes wide receiver the Niners’ top pressing need in this year’s draft is the urgency of question marks right now, particularly after losing Emmanuel Sanders to NFL free agency.
The only proven option under complete control is second-year pro Deebo Samuel. Kendrick Bourne, who was such a force in the red zone last year, received his restricted free-agent tender, and he’ll likely be back.
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After that, things get more than uncertain.
Third-year pro Dante Pettis disappeared from head coach Kyle Shanahan’s offensive plans last season, and it’s impossible to know what to expect from the 2018 second-round draft pick this year.
Some are looking at fellow receivers Trent Taylor and Jalen Hurd as impact players. But it’s also important to acknowledge both spent 2019 on injured reserve, and Taylor has been banged up the better part of the last two seasons. Hurd, meanwhile, has yet to play a regular-season snap at the NFL level.
Good thing the NFL Draft is laden with potentially elite-level wide receivers.
Before the DeForest Buckner trade, top prospects like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy, Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, LSU’s Justin Jefferson and Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III were all likely far away from San Francisco’s target range at No. 31 overall.
With the 13th pick in the folds now, all four of those prospects are realistic targets.
And it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see the 49ers go that route when their number is first called in Round 1.