San Francisco 49ers: Early look at 5 targets in 2022 NFL Draft

Sevyn Banks #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes breaks up a pass intended for Miles Marshall #13 of the Indiana Hoosiers (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Sevyn Banks #7 of the Ohio State Buckeyes breaks up a pass intended for Miles Marshall #13 of the Indiana Hoosiers (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /
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Frank Ladson Jr., Clemson Tigers
Clemson wide receiver Frank Ladson, Jr. (2) Mandatory Credit: Imagn Images /

Without a first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, the 49ers are going to hope to strike some gems in the later rounds, perhaps one of these targets.

If newly selected San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance winds up being a superstar in the next few years, no one will even remember what the Niners gave up to select him at No. 3 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.

If Lance doesn’t work out, though, all people will talk about his how San Francisco surrendered its own pick in 2021, two additional first-round picks in 2022 and 2023, and another third-round selection in 2022, too.

Let’s hope it’ll be the former.

Minus a first-round pick next year, it’ll be that much more difficult to assess which prospects the 49ers will target in the 2022 draft. Early mocks typically focus solely on Round 1, and it’ll probably be a while before the big-time draft pundits start thinking about what a team like the Niners will do in Round 2.

And on top of that, big boards for top-end prospects a year from now are awfully fluid. Players viewed as first-round talent easily slip, while others rise up seemingly out of nowhere to become top-10 players. Now-New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, anyone?

Yes, it’s early. But based on need and potential fits from these prospects, here are five draftees San Francisco might target in the 2022 NFL Draft.

49ers Target No. 5: WR Frank Ladson Jr., Clemson

It was something of a shock the 49ers ended an 18-year run of selecting a wide recceiver in the NFL Draft by not doing so in 2021 even though this year’s class was deep and the Niners needed to bolster the depth behind the two starters, Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

We’ll see if that approach was the right one, but it likely doesn’t remove the probability head coach Kyle Shanahan will want a wideout relatively soon in next year’s draft.

And if San Francisco is looking at Round 2 as an ideal area to target, Clemson wideout Frank Ladson Jr. might be worth exploring.

Ladson is expected to take on a bigger role in the wake of the Green Bay Packers drafting former Tigers teammate Amari Rodgers in Round 3 this year, and Ladson could offer much more than just a third-tier option for the 49ers.

At 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, Ladson projects to be a big-bodied target who uses his physicality to outmuscle defensive backs. While he only had 18 receptions for 281 yards and three touchdowns last year, expect his usage to increase significantly with Rodgers now out of the picture.

Ladson might not work his way into first-round consideration, barring an explosive junior year. But landing him on day two wouldn’t be out of style at all.