49ers NFL Draft needs: Jalen Elliott a late-round add for secondary
By Peter Panacy
The San Francisco 49ers may have to postpone adding defensive back talent until the later rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft, although Notre Dame’s Jalen Elliott could be a target.
Earlier this week, the San Francisco 49ers announced they brought back cornerbacks Jason Verrett and Dontae Johnson on one-year deals.
These two moves shouldn’t be considered long-term fixes. And while there’s something of a budding battle for the No. 2 boundary cornerback job between Ahkello Witherspoon and Emmanuel Moseley pending for training camp, one should still assume the Niners are looking to add more defensive backs in the upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
Possible needs at wide receiver, the offensive line and defensive line may prevent general manager John Lynch from using one of his two first-round picks on a cornerback. And with San Francisco not picking again until Round 5, currently, some late-round targets could be on the team’s radar.
One such player looks to be Notre Dame defensive back Jalen Elliott.
The Draft Wire’s Justin Melo reported the 49ers had a virtual meeting with the 6-foot-0, 205-pound defender, who registered six interceptions over his final two collegiate years with the Fighting Irish. Now the question is whether or not the Niners want to consider bringing him aboard.
And if so, when.
Elliott didn’t do himself any favors at the NFL Scouting Combine, running a 4.8 40-yard time. Looking at some tape — a 2019 game against Georgia, in this case — there isn’t anything overly special that stands out, either:
Elliott primarily played safety in college, and it could be the 49ers are looking at him as a late-round addition, perhaps in Round 7, to supply some depth behind veteran safeties Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt.
Or, like the team attempted to do with former collegiate safety Tarvarius Moore, it’s possible San Francisco is eyeing Elliott as a boundary cornerback. Elliott does have the build, even if his straight-line speed is lacking. Because of this, strictly zone coverage might be the scheme in which Elliott thrives, and the 49ers play a lot of that.
If selected, Elliott probably doesn’t project as anything higher than a seventh-round pick. Yet the Niners have two such selections, and they could easily be looking at him as one of those late-round fliers to stash either on the practice squad, on special teams and/or as a deep developmental reserve, hoping for some halfway decent production in limited roles over the early course of his career.
Aside from that, though, one shouldn’t look at San Francisco’s apparent interest in Elliott as anything more than a would-be depth addition to help round out the back end of the offseason roster.