49ers shock fans, draft Ricky Pearsall at No. 31 to bolster offense

A receiver at No. 31 with Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel on the team? The 49ers shocked fans selecting Ricky Pearsall out of Florida.
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Ricky Pearsall was not the name most fans expected the 49ers to call at No. 31, but the 49ers could be creating a lethal trio alongside Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel for 2024.

It took four hours for the San Francisco 49ers to make a selection, and it certainly wasn't someone fans expected when it was announced that wide receiver Ricky Pearsall was the pick at No. 31. Pearsall was a consensus second-round prospect who tested very well, but not someone mocked to San Francisco.

Does this mean Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel is on the move?

It's impossible to say at the point, but it certainly doesn't mean they definitely will be moving on either. But who is Pearsall as a receiver, and how does he fit into this receiver room?

Well frankly, he looks like a typical 49ers wide receiver for the system.

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We'll start with what Pearsall is not, and that's a deep threat. His speed is perfectly functional for the NFL, but he isn't someone who will stretch defenses. He's a good, but not spectacular, size at 6-foot-1 and 189 pounds, running a strong but not exceptional 4.41-second 40-yard time at the NFL Combine with a 1.57 10-yard split.

Where Pearsall fits in the 49ers offense is up to conjecture given the use of motion by head coach Kyle Shanahan, but he's a shifty route runner who can play out of the slot and use his route running to create separation. The shiftiness was highlighted with a 6.64 second three-cone drill.

He reminds a lot of Aiyuk in that regard, as someone who plays a lot faster than he first appears.

At Florida, Pearsall was the main option, with 65 receptions for 965 yards and four touchdowns in 2023. He added two touchdowns on the ground (three rushes for 63 yards) and was used (albeit in limited fashion) as a punt returner too.

Where Pearsall adds value for the 49ers, especially if Aiyuk or Deebo do get traded, is his crafty route-running skills that allows him to create separation early. The 49ers depend a lot on timed throws for maximum impact, and Pearsall has that ability to be a dependable target for the team. Jauan Jennings is an excellent third-down receiver who pops up when needed, but Pearsall can supplant him for a lot of targets elsewhere in that regard.

So as a player, Pearsall does fit into the offense quite well even if he wasn't considered a first-round prospect by most. The question now is where does he fit in, and how many snaps will he be able to fight for?

Truthfully, we may not know for a while yet.

The team stood pat on Aiyuk and Deebo, with the rumored trade not materializing on Thursday night. This might be a question of the 49ers taking who was atop their board, more than anything else.

The reaction for this one can be described as somewhat muted for now. He was a slight reach, but not an egregious one. He might be replacing one of the Niners receivers, but he instead might be a third option for quarterback Brock Purdy as well.

Does he make the team better? He's certainly an intriguing member of the wide receiver corps now, but he doesn't fill the needs at tackle or cornerback either.

This is truly a wait-and-see selection, but an interesting one for the team to go with. If San Francisco decides to not move on Aiyuk and Deebo, then I for one would love to see what the group of them, Jennings and Pearsall achieve in 2024.

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