It was a little weird the 49ers didn’t add a defensive back in the 2020 NFL Draft, yet Bleacher Report speculates they fix that in their latest 2021 mock.
From most analysts’ perspectives, the Niners needed to address two key areas: wide receiver and cornerback. While general manager John Lynch addressed the first by adding former Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk, he completely passed on a cornerback, which was quite shocking considering the team could potentially lose pending free-agent corners Richard Sherman, Ahkello Witherspoon and K’Waun Williams in 2021. Fellow cornerback Emmanuel Moseley is also going to be a restricted free agent.
The lack of attention at cornerback was surprising, considering the 2020 class was viewed as relatively deep at the position.
So it shouldn’t come as too big a shock some experts are mocking a corner to San Francisco in the 2021 draft.
Bleacher Report mocks Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley to 49ers
Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski just came out with his too-early 2021 mock NFL Draft for all 32 teams in Round 1, slating the Niners to pick at No. 28 overall.
And as a not-too-big a surprise, Sobleski has San Francisco going with a cornerback with its first pick: Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley:
"Virginia Tech’s Caleb Farley might be the best cornerback in the upcoming class, but he suffered an unspecified season-ending injury that will surely draw the scrutiny of NFL teams.If healthy and cleared, Farley has the physical skill set every team wants at the position. He’s 6’2″ and 207 pounds with outstanding long speed. He allowed the second-lowest quarterback rating when targeted last season, per Pro Football Focus. Farley’s profile fits perfectly in a Cover 3-heavy scheme like Robert Saleh employs."
Provided by CFB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Farley emerged as quite the ballhawk in 2019, deflecting 12 passes and intercepting four of them, returning one for a touchdown. While Sherman has reverted back to his intercepting ways as of last season, it’s important to note he’ll turn 33 years old before the start of the 2021 season.
And that’s if he even returns to San Francisco.
As Sobleski pointed out, Farley’s frame fits what Saleh wants out of his boundary cornerbacks: a long, lanky build not necessarily prioritizing speed to match up with faster receivers.
In the above video, Farley showed some issues staying step for step with some of the faster Notre Dame wideouts. But the play strength is there, particularly in jam situations at the line of scrimmage, and the defensive back is never shy about getting into close contact.
Those are among the strengths suggesting he’d be a great fit for San Francisco.
Regardless, the Niners need to think long and hard about their cornerback situation in 2021, and it wouldn’t be at all shocking to see Lynch and Co. use one of their early picks on a defensive back.