The 49ers didn't trade for a cornerback at the 2023 deadline, but CBS Sports predicts they'll take one in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft instead.
In the days counting down to the 2023 NFL trade deadline, the bulk of speculation surrounding the San Francisco 49ers and general manager John Lynch centered around upgrading at least one of three positions:
- The offensive line
- The defensive line
Lynch attacked the D-line twice before the deadline, striking a deal with the Denver Broncos for defensive end Randy Gregory some weeks ago, then going big on a blockbuster with the Washington Commanders for defensive end Chase Young, who'll form a formidable one-two tandem with All-Pro Nick Bosa, his former teammate at Ohio State.
Whether or not Lynch had another trade in place is anyone's guess and not yet reported, and it's entirely possible the Niners either backed out of a deal or were outbid by another team.
As such, San Francisco will likely still need to upgrade and reinforce the other two spots, moves that'll have to wait until the offseason.
That's precisely what CBS Sports' Chris Trapasso suggested would happen in his post-trade deadline mock NFL Draft for 2024.
CBS Sports mock NFL Draft 2024: 49ers select Penn State cornerback Kalen King in Round 1
The 49ers have a top boundary corner in Charvarius Ward, but the No. 2 option is still up in the air. Currently, Deommodore Lenoir occupies that spot, but he might be better suited on the inside at nickel, which would bump veteran defensive back Isaiah Oliver into a reserve role.
That was the thinking at the trade deadline, at least, if the Niners traded for a corner.
Either way, there isn't too much by the way of up-and-coming cornerbacks currently on San Francisco's roster, unless one is pinning hopes on Ambry Thomas or the rookie, Darrell Luter Jr., making serious strides. And Luter has been shelved with an injury since training camp.
Trapasso, however, suggests the 49ers go after Penn State cornerback Kalen King with the 23rd overall pick in the 2024 draft.
"The 49ers get a long, twitchy cornerback to add to the defensive backfield," Trapasso wrote. "This is a need for San Francisco."
At 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, King might also be more of an inside body, but he does line up on both the boundary and at nickel, giving him some positional flexibility. Adept at defending against the run, King isn't afraid of throwing his body around in an aggressive fashion, which would bode well for a Niners secondary that could see some turnover in the next few years.
Last season, early in Round 3, San Francisco used its first pick on another Penn State player, defensive back Ji'Ayir Brown, who'll factor into the starting free safety spot in 2024.
In 2022, King had 30 tackles, 18 passes broken up, a forced fumble and three interceptions. While he hasn't registered a takeaways in 2023 yet, he does have 20 tackles and two pass breakups as teams have generally avoided throwing in his direction.
Should he be available to the 49ers toward the end of Round 1, it wouldn't be the worst of selections whatsoever.
But the 2024 draft is a long, long way away.