49ers NFL Draft: 5 prospects who could be Day 1 starters in 2022

Kerby Joseph #25 of the Illinois Fighting Illini (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images)
Kerby Joseph #25 of the Illinois Fighting Illini (Photo by David Berding/Getty Images) /
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The 49ers don’t have too many holes to address in the 2022 NFL Draft, yet these five prospect targets could wind up immediately starting for San Francisco.

It’s a bit trickier trying to assess which rookies the San Francisco 49ers end up selecting in 2022 wind up starting right away when the regular season kicks off this September.

For starters (pun intended), we have no clue whom the Niners will pick yet. That’s a challenge. On top of that, San Francisco isn’t poised to select until the back end of Round 2, No. 61 overall, and the pressure to put someone in the starting lineup always diminishes the further the draft moves along.

And it isn’t as if the 49ers have a ton of starting spots to fill this offseason anyway.

Still, there are some clear-cut needs and vacancies to fill, and a number of the Niners’ potential draft targets may wind up being day-one starters even if they’re selected in Rounds 2, 3, 4 or even 5.

Probably not as much in Rounds 6 or 7, though, but you never know.

At any rate, here are five 2022 NFL Draft prospects San Francisco might target who’d wind up being immediate starters for the team if selected.

Safety. Illinois. Kerby Joseph. player. 807. Pick Analysis. 5. Scouting Report

49ers prospect No. 5: Safety Kerby Joseph, Illinois

Maybe the 49ers are set at strong safety despite their prior starter, Jaquiski Tartt, still out there on the free-agent market. As of now, George Odum, Talanoa Hufanga and Tarvarius Moore are poised to compete for the starting role alongside free safety Jimmie Ward.

Odum, Hufanga and Moore are tier-two players, though, and none are exactly presented as full-time starters.

Illinois safety Kerby Joseph, however, could easily wind up seizing a No. 1 spot on the depth chart if the Niners grab him, likely with one of their two third-round picks this April.

Joseph, 6-foot-1 and 203 pounds, has the sideline-to-sideline capabilities of a free safety, meaning he could potentially be a long-term replacement for Ward when that time comes. Yet Joseph has also showcased his abilities as an in-the-box safety, too, meaning he’d also be primed to make up for Tartt’s departure as well.

And with five interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season, there’s also the playmaking attribute in the mix.

Sure, Joseph’s tackling angles aren’t the best, and his reactions skills need some work, but he’s easily one of the better day-two safety prospects in this year’s class, and he’d have an inside track towards starting if San Francisco selects him.