49ers build around Jimmy Garoppolo in 4-round mock NFL Draft
By Peter Panacy
Round 2, Pick No. 43 Overall: 49ers select cornerback Eric Stokes, Georgia
Yes, the 49ers can support Jimmy Garoppolo by also reinforcing the defense. That was essentially how the 2019 team worked — a strong defense complemented by an efficient run-based offense.
No other position on the Niners roster is going to go through more attrition than cornerback anyway, particularly with Richard Sherman, K’Waun Williams, Jason Verrett, Ahkello Witherspoon and Dontae Johnson all pegged as unrestricted free agents. So even if San Francisco is heavily focused on the offensive side of the ball, expect an early pick to be used on at least one cornerback.
In this case, Georgia’s Eric Stokes in Round 2.
Stokes, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, fits the bill for the lean, lanky defensive back on the perimeter. And he showed up last year with four interceptions after being a regular pass-breakup specialist the previous two seasons.
While Stokes won’t win with elite-level speed, and he doesn’t necessarily have the best man-coverage skills, the fit stems from his ability to work better within a zone-style system. And one might imagine that’s what the 49ers will continue using under new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans.
By doing so, the Niners help ensure the back end of their defense remains efficient, thereby forcing opponents’ offenses off the field earlier and giving Garoppolo more time under center.