Early 2023 mock draft gives 49ers a much-needed cornerback

Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns cornerback Mekhi Garner (20) Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports
Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns cornerback Mekhi Garner (20) Mandatory Credit: Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s never too soon for mock NFL Draft season, and the 49ers are poised to restock their secondary, according to a two-round mock for 2023.

If you were to place odds on which position San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan would address first in the 2023 NFL Draft, you’d probably guess the defensive line.

It wouldn’t be a bad guess either, as the Niners have used their top pick in six of their last eight draft classes, headlined by the 2022 selection of USC EDGE Drake Jackson in Round 2.

Like last year, San Francisco won’t have a first-round pick in the 2023 draft, thanks to the 2021 trade-up for quarterback Trey Lance, meaning fans will have to wait until (hopefully) the end of the second round for Lynch and Co. to make their first selection.

According to the folks over at Pro Football Network, it won’t be a defensive lineman.

Pro Football Network mocks LSU cornerback Mekhi Garner to 49ers

Pro Football Network’s way-too-early two-round mock for the 2023 draft skipped over the 49ers in Round 1 and ultimately had them selecting at No. 59 overall towards the back end of the second round.

The selection? LSU cornerback Mekhi Garner, who spent his first three collegiate seasons at Louisiana before transferring to the Tigers for the upcoming 2022 campaign.

Mekhi Garner Defense & Fumbles Table
TacklesDef IntFumbles
*2019LouisianaSun BeltSODB24150.00.0000001
*2020LouisianaSun BeltSOCB11225271.01.0300.00701
*2021LouisianaSun BeltSOCB122110312.50.5000801

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 6/20/2022.

The 6-foot-2, 212-pound defensive back seems poised to be a perfect boundary defender. And while I admittedly haven’t started watching much by the way of prospects for the 2023 draft, let’s dig up a scouting report from NFL Draft Buzz to shed some light on his profile and how it might fit the Niners:


  • Flashes some physicality as a hitter.
  • Flashes intimidating attitude and will crush tiptoeing receivers across the middle.
  • Has an NFL frame with strong hands, the ability to close quickly on underneath routes and the size to tackle with a thump.
  • Quicker than he is fast but has a burst to close in zone coverage and plays physical at the line in man.
  • Physical, sheds defenders and works off blocks. Good toughness with recognition skills to fight through traffic and blow up screens.


  • Needs to improve his footwork and balance in coverage. Transitions out of his backpedal too early and doesn’t look natural moving in reverse.
  • Will slip off tackles and needs to finish more consistently.

The zone-coverage part is intriguing. Despite San Francisco shifting away from an almost exclusively zone-style defense last year under defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans, it still plays a lot of zone anyway.

49ers do have cornerback needs in 2023

One might think the 49ers would be reaching by grabbing a cornerback first in 2023, especially considering needs for the offensive line and in the wake of adding corners Charvarius Ward and Samuel Womack via free agency and this year’s draft, respectively.

Read More: Way-too-early Niners 4-round mock for 2023 NFL Draft

Yet fellow cornerback Emmanuel Moseley, possibly a starter this season, is an unrestricted free agent next season, as is the veteran Jason Verrett, who is working his way back from an ACL tear suffered early last year.

Additionally, the Niners still don’t know quite what they have in their third-round pick from the 2021 draft, Ambry Thomas, who flashed a bit late his rookie season despite some early struggles.

If Thomas doesn’t wind up being up to snuff, there’s a good chance San Francisco will have to continue seeking out cornerback help to pair with Ward in 2023 and beyond.

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