4 needs 49ers initially must address in 2022 NFL Draft

"THE PICK IS IN" for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
"THE PICK IS IN" for the San Francisco 49ers during the 2018 NFL Draft (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /
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Romeo Doubs, Nevada Wolf Pack
Nevada Wolf Pack wide receiver Romeo Doubs (7) Mandatory Credit: David Calvert-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s a long way off, yes. But it’s never a bad time to take an early pulse on the 49ers’ opening needs for the 2022 NFL Draft with the 2021 season about to begin.

Alas, the final weekend without San Francisco 49ers regular-season football is upon us, and it just so coincides with the kickoff of the college football 2021 campaign.

The Niners, and the rest of the league for that matter, begin the following week. Yet the evaluatory process for the 2022 NFL Draft has already started in earnest. No NFL games over Labor Day weekend should mean fans everywhere are taking a look at some of the potential pro-level prospects who could find their names called seven months from now.

For San Francisco, it might be a bit more challenging an evaluation.

Following the 2021 trade-up for quarterback Trey Lance, the 49ers will be without a first-round pick in the 2022 draft, and they also dished off one of their compensatory selections, a third-round pick, too. They still have seven projected picks, yet two of them are estimated to be Round 7 compensatory selections.

Nevertheless, looking at some of the early preseason results and the overall shape of the roster, including pending free agents and underwhelming position groups, let’s take an opening look ahead of the 2021 regular season on what the Niners’ top four needs will be in the 2022 NFL Draft.

49ers Need No. 4: Wide Receiver

It was a bit of a shock San Francisco didn’t take advantage of a deep 2021 class at wide receiver, instead only grabbing undrafted free-agent Austin Watkins, who is no longer with the team.

Granted, the 49ers should feel pretty good about their two starters, Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, and the offseason free-agent addition of Trent Sherfield makes the situation seem much better.

But Sherfield is only signed on a one-year deal, while Samuel’s injury history — he missed seven games in 2020 — still lingers, and the Niners may be thinking about not offering him a second contract after his rookie deal wraps up at the end of 2022.

Nowhere near as deep with talent, the 2022 draft class still offers up some possible options:

  • Romeo Doubs, Nevada
  • Jalen Tolbert, South Alabama
  • David Bell, Purdue
  • John Metchie III, Alabama
  • Reggie Roberson Jr., SMU