While the focus on the 49ers’ 2021 NFL Draft efforts have been on a quarterback in Round 1, the real guesswork starts in Round 2.
Now is about as good a time to remind San Francisco 49ers fans that there are eight other picks currently at general manager John Lynch’s disposal after his team uses the No. 3 overall selection on a quarterback on Thursday, April 29.
That first-round selection is going to be for a quarterback. We know that. As far as how the rest of the 2021 NFL Draft pans out for the Niners, well, it’s anyone’s guess.
Lynch’s moves in free agency this offseason helped solve a lot of would-be needs for the team as it prepares for the upcoming season. Yet there are still some holes needing to be addressed along with some long-term planning to help prepare for the multitude of players re-signed on one-year deals.
In a sense, the open-ended portion of San Francisco’s draft starts in Round 2 where the 49ers hold the No. 43 overall pick. As we’ve seen before, Lynch isn’t afraid to trade around on draft day, so there’s no guarantee that’s where the Niners will be picking.
But as long as San Francisco is in the range of the 43rd overall pick, these five prospects would be excellent targets in the second round.
49ers Round 2 Target No. 5: Defensive Back Elijah Molden, Washington
Despite re-signing defensive backs Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams and Jaquiski Tartt to one-year deals this offseason, the need to infuse some youth on cheap rookie contracts should be something on Lynch’s mind, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the 49ers’ first non-quarterback selection used on a defensive back.
In the case of Washington’s Elijah Molden, the Niners would be getting an excellent coverage defensive back who tallied four interceptions back in 2019 before adding one more in a pandemic-shortened four-game season for the Huskies in 2020.
Molden is a little short at 5-foot-10 to play a full-time boundary role at cornerback. But he’s a fluid over-the-top safety and should be an excellent option to handle slot-coverage duties in the inevitable wake of Williams’ eventual departure.
Williams will turn 30 years old before the regular season and is coming off a year in which he missed eight games because of injury.
Molden is one of those players fringing between Rounds 2 and 3, so the Niners may want to consider a trade-back in the second round to maximize some value here.
If they do, Molden would be an excellent target to reinforce the secondary.