SF 49ers: 10 wide receivers to target in 2021 NFL Draft

Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)
Amon-Ra St. Brown #8 of the USC Trojans (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images) /
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Shi Smith, South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina Gamecocks wide receiver Shi Smith (13) Mandatory Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports /

850. . Wide Receiver. Gamecocks . Shi Smith. 10. player

SF 49ers Target No. 10: Shi Smith, South Carolina

Even if the Niners add a wide receiver in the middle rounds of the NFL Draft, it wouldn’t hurt to find some developmental candidates to round out the depth chart and guard against the kind of injuries the team suffered over the course of 2020.

Particularly in the wake of Deebo Samuel suffering multiple injuries last year.

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One of Samuel’s former teammates at South Carolina, wide receiver Shi Smith, could be an enticing target in either Round 6 or 7. While some view him potentially as an undrafted free agent, the 5-foot-10, 190-pound Smith does possess enough traits to suggest a team looking to take advantage of his feisty demeanor and reliable hands.

Smith posted at least 400 receiving yards in all four of his collegiate seasons, topping off his Gamecock tenure with 633 yards on 57 receptions and four touchdowns in 2020. And while he’s not the dual-threat kind of receiver one might like for a late-round flier, the fact Smith has served as a return specialist does bode well for his chances of hanging around on a 53-man roster.

If the SF 49ers end up selecting Smith, they’d likely have to pencil him in as a backup slot option who can contribute on special teams. Smith’s route-running abilities aren’t particularly great, although his 4.33 40-yard time suggests he can separate if he’s able to craft his footwork a bit better at the next level.

But for a late-round flier, those are attributes worth developing, and he could turn into a quality slot option with some fine-tuning.

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 29.

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