The 49ers solved a number of their roster needs in NFL free agency. But there’s still some work to be done with these positional targets in the NFL Draft.
The San Francisco 49ers won’t have nearly as many offseason needs as initially anticipated last January and February.
At least not after general manager John Lynch brought back a number of players on the NFL free agency market, including left tackle Trent Williams and fullback Kyle Juszczk among others, while also onboarding a contingent of new faces like EDGE Samson Ebukam and center Alex Mack.
Lynch was able to do this thanks to a number of reworked and renegotiated deals, such as EDGE Dee Ford, which alone created $11 million in cap space.
Now comfortably below the 2021 salary cap of $182.5 million, the Niners probably won’t be looking for too many more splash moves on the free-agent market, meaning Lynch and Co. can shift the bulk of their attention to the NFL Draft this April where San Francisco holds the No. 12 overall pick, the first of nine overall selections.
While many of the offseason needs were addressed, the 49ers will still have to hit on more than just one or two of their upcoming selections. Many positions still have depth concerns, while others could see some serious competition for would-be starters.
Here are the four needs the Niners should pay the most attention to in the NFL Draft.
49ers NFL Draft Need No. 5: Running Back
Consider this more of a low-luxury item but something San Francisco should strongly consider on day three of the draft anyway, which is probably going to be head coach Kyle Shanahan’s approach.
The 49ers have four running backs rostered for 2021: Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Austin Walter. But the first three all suffered serious injuries last season, and none are under contract into 2022.
The Niners have five total picks between Rounds 4 and 7 of the NFL Draft, and Shanahan has already identified undrafted free-agent runners in the past, Hasty last year and Matt Breida back in 2017.
While it’s always possible San Francisco uses a day-two pick on a running back, look for the 49ers to consider the following options late in the draft:
- Rhamondre Stevenson, Oklahoma
- Jaret Patterson, Buffalo
- Khalil Herbert, Virginia Tech
- Jermar Jefferson, Oregon State
- Chuba Hubbard, Oklahoma State