4 mistakes 49ers can’t afford to make in 2021 NFL Draft

General managers John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** John Lynch
General managers John Lynch of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** John Lynch /
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SF 49ers, NFL Draft
“THE PICK IS IN” for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The 49ers are in prime position to cash in on the 2021 NFL Draft with the No. 3 overall pick, but these four draft mistakes could be disastrous.

The San Francisco 49ers now have their choice at one of a number of can’t-miss prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft after moving up from No. 12 overall to the third-overall spot.

This move almost assuredly will result in a new quarterback, although there are surely other non-QB players worthy of a top-five selection here. That said, the Niners didn’t give up two additional first-round selections and a Round 3 pick to grab someone like Oregon offensive tackle Penei Sewell or Florida tight end Kyle Pitts.

Although both players would be excellent additions under nearly any other circumstance.

The NFL Draft is already tough enough to evaluate. It generally takes three years to determine whether or not a selected player panned out to desired expectation levels. Case in point, most analysts thought San Francisco had an awesome 2017 draft class, headlined by defensive end Solomon Thomas and linebacker Reuben Foster.

Neither of those two selections panned out, though. And aside from tight end George Kittle, the bulk of that class wasn’t overly impressive.

Still, there are some key mistakes general manager John Lynch and Co. would be wise to avoid when San Francisco starts hearing its number called on April 29.

No. 4: 49ers can’t grab a running back between Rounds 1 and 3

Yes, running back is a sneaky need for the Niners. After all, Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson Jr., JaMycal Hasty and Austin Walter are signed only through 2021, and it would make sense to start acclimating a younger body sooner than later.

Fortunately, head coach Kyle Shanahan and running backs coach Bobby Turner have a pedigree for identifying and developing hidden-gem talent either late in the draft or even through undrafted free agents.

That approach has to be maintained in 2021.

True, there are some enticing prospects in this year’s halfback class, including Alabama’s Najee Harris, who’s on the fringes between the first two rounds. Even UNC’s Michael Carter would be a smart target, too.

The problem, though, is both of those players are poised to go within the first three rounds now, particularly Harris. While the 49ers solved a lot of their needs via free agency already, many of the short-term contracts dictate the need to spend early draft picks elsewhere.

Both for long-term value and immediate impact. Simply put, going after a running back early is a luxury move the Niners can’t afford to make.