4 dark-horse top targets for 49ers in 2022 NFL Draft

Darian Kinnard #70 of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Darian Kinnard #70 of the Kentucky Wildcats (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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The 49ers may go with a defensive back, pass-rusher or offensive guard with their first pick in the 2022 NFL Draft, but what if they don’t?

The San Francisco 49ers don’t care who you, we or the overwhelming majority of pundits think they should take with their top pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

If you were to ask around, the likely consensus choice would probably be a cornerback, since it appears to be the biggest glaring need. Potentially a safety if Jaquiski Tartt leaves in free agency, or maybe a pass-rusher to pair with EDGE Nick Bosa.

Heck, even an interior offensive lineman might be smart, and we’ve suggested as much, too.

Yet the Niners don’t have to go with conventional wisdom, especially wit their first pick currently slated at the very end of Round 2, No. 61 overall, where a “best player available” strategy might apply. And San Francisco might buck that trend anyway. It’s not like general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have been averse to this before. In 2018, they selected Notre Dame right tackle Mike McGlinchey with the team’s first pick, which was a bit of a surprise considering incumbent tackle Trent Brown was already on the roster.

Until Brown was traded the following day.

With that as a backdrop, let’s explore four not-likely but still-very-possible dark-horse candidates for the 49ers’ first selection in the 2022 NFL Draft.

833. Scouting Report. Darian Kinnard. 4. player. Pick Analysis. Offensive Tackle. Kentucky

49ers NFL Draft dark-horse No. 4: OT Darian Kinnard, Kentucky

Wait, an offensive tackle? Do the Niners repeat the same thing they did with McGlinchey in 2018 to McGlinchey in 2022?

Well, it’s surely possible.

For starters, McGlinchey is working his way back from a torn quad suffered last season, so that’s something to monitor. And San Francisco also previously picked up his fully guaranteed fifth-year option for 2022, too. However, if the 49ers found a willing partner to take on McGlinchey via trade, even a low-end one, they’d clear all of the $10.88 million owed to him.

A less-discussed player to watch here would be Kentucky right tackle Darian Kinnard, a behemoth of a specimen at 6-foot-5 and 328 pounds who moves surprisingly well for a player of his stature and figures to thrive best in a zone-style offense.

Kinnard still needs a lot of refinement and polish, but his raw abilities are nevertheless enticing as a powerful blocker who executes on the move.

Currently projected to go either late in Round 2 or early in Round 3, the Niners could potentially surprise by landing McGlinchey’s replacement right then and there to stock up the offensive line.