49ers NFL Draft: Why we like Baylor DB Jalen Pitre so much

Jalen Pitre #8 of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images)
Jalen Pitre #8 of the Baylor Bears (Photo by Ron Jenkins/Getty Images) /

The 49ers aren’t scheduled to select until late in Round 2 of the 2022 NFL Draft, but it’s looking like Baylor defensive back Jalen Pitre is a top favorite.

By now, you’ve probably grown accustomed to seeing Niner Noise talk about one of the 2022 NFL Draft prospects who could help address some of the San Francisco 49ers’ serious concerns with their secondary this offseason.

Baylor defensive back Jalen Pitre.

The 6-foot-0, 197-pounder is suddenly looking to be a top favorite, at least among Niners fans and analysts alike, and there’s little doubting why he is appearing to be a legitimate draft target for general manager John Lynch and Co.


San Francisco is poised to experience a lot of turnover within its already questionable secondary this offseason, namely long-time starters in nickel cornerback K’Waun Williams and strong safety Jaquiski Tartt, who’ll be poised for free agency.

Additionally, veteran cornerback Josh Norman is a free agent and likely won’t be retained, while the 49ers may seek to add some depth to support younger corners Ambry Thomas and Emmanuel Moseley.

Pitre, who bounced around all over the Bears’ backfield during his collegiate career, could help solve a lot of needs.

Jalen Pitre would be a smart add for 49ers in NFL Draft

While some may be a bit concerned about his thin frame, there’s no doubting Pitre’s ability to mix it up with bigger, stronger receiving targets.

As far as production and playmaking go, he has it, finishing his collegiate tenure with four sacks split between the last two years while also adding six sacks:

Jalen Pitre Defense & Fumbles Table
TacklesDef IntFumbles
2017BaylorBig 12FRLB12298373.01.0000100
*2018BaylorBig 12SOLB756112.00.0000000
*2019BaylorBig 12JRLB493121.51.0000000
2020BaylorBig 12JRS941196011.02.525628.02201
*2021BaylorBig 12SRS1456197518.53.522010.00733

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 2/28/2022.

Pitre also has room to grow without impacting his speed or playmaking abilities, and that might tempt a team like the Niners to experiment with him as a would-be replacement for Tartt, should the latter leave in free agency.

Pitre’s versatility doesn’t just stem from being a corner/safety hybrid, though. He has, in a sense, played both safety spots while also lining up as both a boundary and nickel cornerback, too.

In that vein, one could almost draw a circle around the second level of the defense and say, “that’s where Pitre plays.”

Sometimes, the proverbial “jack of all trades but master of none” applies to these kinds of players, but not Pitre, as Pro Football Network’s Ian Cummings pointed out:

"Athletically, Pitre passes the necessary thresholds. But his execution makes him one of the most exciting players in the 2022 NFL Draft. He is an aggressive, proactive playmaker who processes and triggers with rare quickness. He’s an elite hustle player whose sheer tenacity and play pace allows him to make plays that others don’t.Pitre’s instincts are excellent and a vital piece of his game. He plays fast but knows when to slow up, maintain his positioning, and control his throttle. He’s excellent at adjusting his angles at a moment’s notice with quick twitch and footwork. And he can also sell angles to blockers and evade blocks with that same lateral quickness and targeted physicality."

Will Jalen Pitre end up falling to 49ers in Round 2?

That’s a good question. Currently, San Francisco isn’t slated to pick in the 2022 draft until the second round, No. 61 overall, and it’s anyone’s guess whether or not Pitre will fall that far.

According to Pro Football Focus, Pitre is the No. 28-ranked prospect overall, suggesting he’ll be long gone by the time the 49ers’ number is called for the first time.

Read More: 49ers’ 5 biggest needs heading into 2022 NFL Draft

Of course, as anyone who has watched a handful of NFL Draft showcases will know, there are always players who wind up being reaches and others who slip well beyond their initial draft projections.

Barring a Niners trade-up, they might have to hope and bank on the possibility of Pitre falling towards the end of Round 2.

If that happens, though, Pitre is one of those players who can help make a would-be departure of Tartt and/or Williams much more manageable, thereby infusing some much-needed talent into a defensive backfield that’ll need a lot of help entering 2022.

And you probably haven’t read the last from us on Pitre either.

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