Tier 3: More realistic first-round trade-up targets for 49ers
Any NFL Draft can get crazy after the first five or 10 picks. And from Nos. 11 through 20, it’s almost a guessing game what happens afterward, especially if trades wind up being the common theme.
Each year, there are plenty of front-end first-round prospects who fall into the 20s. Sometimes even into Round 2. In 2017, Reuben Foster was viewed as a top-10 talent, but off-field and injury concerns pushed him almost out of the first round entirely.
While the 49ers are likely to steer clear of such question-mark prospects in 2021, they’d certainly consider moving from the second round and back into Round 1 if one of these five players in tier three ended up slipping enough and the Niners can find a willing trade partner.
San Francisco’s trade up to No. 3 shakes up another need: cornerback.
If an offensive lineman wasn’t going to be the pick at the original No. 12 spot, many a mock draft suggested the 49ers would go after a cornerback instead. Especially after letting the veteran, Richard Sherman, walk in free agency and re-signing fellow corners Jason Verrett and K’Waun Williams only to one-year deals.
They’re essentially 1A and 1B players here, and either would be an excellent addition to nearly any secondary. So, while the Niners could still be looking at other offensive positions, or even considering someone like Trevon Moehrig to be a long-term fit at safety, the thought of either Surtain or Horn falling deep enough into trade-up range in the latter half of Round 1 has to be on San Francisco’s radar and hope list.
Particularly if any of these players are still available in the mid-to-late 20s and especially Nos. 30, 31 or 32.