49ers simply go with best player available in this 7-round mock NFL Draft

Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1)
Alabama Crimson Tide defensive back Kool-Aid McKinstry (1) / Ryan Kang/GettyImages

If the 49ers opt to let the 2024 NFL Draft come to them and take the best player available, here's what it could look like.

San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch is no stranger to draft-day trades, and it's a strategy that could repeat when the 2024 NFL Draft kicks off next week.

In total, the Niners are projected to have 10 picks in this year's draft. The problem, though, is that there aren't 10 spots on the 53-man roster.

Yet San Francisco is in a position where it needs to hit on a number of prospects no matter what round they fall in. With an aging and an increasingly expensive roster, the process of funneling in cheaper, younger talent through the pipeline has to start now.

That could mean simply going with the best player available for each of the team's 10 picks, starting off with No. 31 overall.

In this quick-hit mock, the 49ers do precisely that.

Using Pro Football Focus' mock draft tool, Niner Noise grabs the best player available (within reason) to help bolster the newest class of Niners rookies entering 2024.

49ers 'best player available' mock NFL Draft 2024

With 30 picks hitting the books before San Francisco is on the clock, Round 1 could easily go in a variety of different directions.

Sure, the offensive line is a big need for Lynch and Co. But, by the time the 49ers are on the clock, there's another option that meets another crucial need: cornerback.

Kool-Aid McKinstry. Cornerback. Scouting Report. player. . . Kool-Aid McKinstry. Kool-Aid McKinstry. 31. 523

Charvarius Ward, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaac Yiadom and Rock Ya-Sin are all free agents in 2025, and the Niners need to find an up-and-coming option who can serve as a long-term solution for the position with the strong chance of emerging as a day-one starter.

The 5-foot-11, 199-pound Kool-Aid McKinstry out of Alabama fits the bill.

Capable of operating in both zone- and man-based coverage schemes, McKinstry helps alleviate the worry about all four of San Francisco's veteran corners potentially departing a year from now.

Kiran Amegadjie. Scouting Report. Offensive Tackle. player. 63. 2394. Kiran Amegadjie. . . Kiran Amegadjie

The draft board plays right into the 49ers' hands at the end of Round 2 where they are able to address the O-line by grabbing Yale offensive tackle Kiran Amegadjie at No. 63 overall.

While still raw, the 6-foot-5 and 323-pound Amegadjie can compete to start right away at right tackle but can also serve as an understudy to All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams, who is entering the final years of his Hall of Fame career.

Scouting Report. . Dadrion Taylor-Demerson. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson. Safety. player. 468. 94. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson.

It's not as pressing a need as cornerback, but San Francisco would be smart to grab a safety at some point early in the draft. After all, Talanoa Hufanga is coming off an ACL tear while entering a contract year, and there aren't too many other feasible options to find a long-term solution opposite second-year pro Ji'Ayir Brown.

The 49ers also love versatility with their defensive backs, meaning Texas Tech's Dadrion Taylor-Demerson would be a welcomed addition to both bolster the depth chart now while adding a starting-caliber option in 2025 and beyond.

Brendan Rice. 519. . . 124. player. Scouting Report. Wide Receiver. Brendan Rice. Brendan Rice

It's funny the board played out this way, and one can wonder if USC wide receiver Brendan Rice would slip into Round 4, but that's how things went here. No complaints.

The son of Hall of Famer (and GOAT) Jerry Rice, Brendan Rice would help guard against veteran wideout Brandon Aiyuk's uncertain future while adding a field-stretching threat to bolster an otherwise thin back end of the 49ers' wide receiver depth chart.

Plus, no Niners fan would complain about seeing another Rice donning the red and gold.

Tanor Bortolini. Tanor Bortolini. player. . . 132. 493. Scouting Report. Center. Tanor Bortolini

Wisconsin center Tanor Bortolini has shown up on plenty of Niner Noise mocks already, and he winds up being the best player available at No. 132 overall, too.

San Francisco could seek an upgrade over incumbent center Jake Brendel, and Bortolini has position flexibility to bounce out to guard as well, meaning he has the year-one ceiling of being a starter but could also act as an immediate backup for the interior.

Mekhi Wingo. Defensive tackle. . player. . Scouting Report. Mekhi Wingo. Mekhi Wingo. 135. 529

The 49ers lost interior defensive lineman Arik Armstead this offseason but picked up Maliek Collins and Jordan Elliott.

That said, their run defense remains a question mark, meaning it wouldn't be shocking to see a day-three pick used on a run-stopping interior lineman.

LSU's Mekhi Wingo fits the bill as someone who can rotate in on first and second downs.

. J.D. Bertrand. Linebacker. J.D. Bertrand. 443. J.D. Bertrand. Scouting Report. . player. 176

The Niners have to worry about the health and availability of star linebacker Dre Greenlaw, who tore his Achilles in the Super Bowl and likely won't be back until the middle of the regular season.

Greenlaw is also ticketed for free agency in 2025, too, meaning San Francisco might have to act now to find a long-term partner alongside Fred Warner.

Notre Dame's J.D. Bertrand might have to cut his teeth on special teams, but he's worth a day-three gamble as someone who can bolster the depth chart until Greenlaw returns.

Scouting Report. Tip Reiman. 211. player. 481. Tip Reiman. . Tight end. . Tip Reiman

The 6-foot-5 and 271-pound Tip Reiman is already a solid blocking tight end, which could help alleviate the 49ers' free-agent loss of Charlie Woerner this offseason.

The Niners are also seeking long-term replacement options for All-Pro tight end George Kittle, although Reiman has a long way to go before even being part of that conversation.

Carson Steele. Carson Steele. player. 518. Running back. . Carson Steele. 215. . Scouting Report

San Francisco conducted a pre-draft meeting with UCLA running back Carson Steele, whose versatility could make for a unique commodity within head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense.

True, the 49ers already have Christian McCaffrey to headline the position. But backup rusher Elijah Mitchell is oft-injured, and Jordan Mason is merely a depth option.

Scouting Report. 251. player. . Solomon Byrd. 519. Solomon Byrd. . Defensive end. Solomon Byrd

The 49ers turned over much of their edge-rushing group during the offseason, adding veteran Leonard Floyd and still-young Yetur Gross-Matos to pair with All-Pro Nick Bosa.

That said, when teams think they have enough pass-rushers, it's always good to add another.

USC's Solomon Byrd is a project and would need a lot of coaching, but his 6-foot-3 and 255-pound frame could ultimately translate into him becoming a modest rotational player after some development.

The 2024 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 25.

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