49ers can target these 5 small-school prospects in 2022 NFL Draft

Pierre Strong Jr. #20 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
Pierre Strong Jr. #20 of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) /
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Cole Strange, Chattanooga
National Squad offensive lineman Cole Strange of Tennessee-Chattanooga (69) Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports /

49ers small-school prospect No. 4: OL Cole Strange, Chattanooga

While running back might not be a high priority, it wouldn’t be shocking at all to see San Francisco spend some draft assets to reinforce the offensive line.

Particularly the interior after losing left guard Laken Tomlinson to free agency and with center Alex Mack probably retiring once 2022 is up.

There are a number of big-school interior O-line prospects to watch, of course, but Cole Strange out of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga is one to monitor as a potential target.

The 6-foot-6, 301-pound lineman projects as an NFL-level guard but could also double as a center, and his draft profile from NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein highlights the zone-style fit Strange might have in Kyle Shanahan’s system:

"He will lose a tug-of-war battle as a pure man-to-man blocker, but wins with lateral quickness and an understanding of angles as a move blocker. A snappier pass punch is needed to prevent sub-package rushers with hand talent from bypassing him too easily. His frame and play strength are a little below average, but he has done some snapping in practice, so he could land as a future starting center for a zone-happy rush offense."

Strange is another one of those prospects who could be on the fringes between the second and third days of the draft, but the 49ers have two picks at the end of Round 3 and could use one of them on him.