Biggest winners and losers from 49ers' 2024 NFL Draft class

Each one of the Niners' picks in the 2024 NFL Draft will carry ramifications for other players on the offseason roster.
Florida Gators wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (1)
Florida Gators wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (1) / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

The 49ers made some provocative decisions in the 2024 NFL Draft, which ultimately created a crop of winners and losers.

The newest class of San Francisco 49ers draftees is now official.

Head coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and Co. added a total of X players via thee 2024 NFL Draft and will subsequently round out the 90-man offseason roster with a group of undrafted free agents, all of whom will compete for the handful of open spots on a Super Bowl-caliber roster.

Here's the list of players the Niners drafted in 2024:

  • Round 1, No. 31 overall -- WR Ricky Pearsall, Florida
  • Round 2, No. 64 overall (from Chiefs) -- CB Renardo Green, Florida State
  • Round 3, No. 86 overall (from Eagles) -- OL Dominick Puni, Kansas
  • Round 4, No. 124 overall (from Cowboys) -- DB Malik Mustapha, Wake Forest
  • Round 4, No. 129 overall (from Jets) -- RB Isaac Guerendo, Louisville
  • Round 4, No. 135 overall -- WR Jacob Cowing, Arizona
  • Round 6, No. 215 overall (compensatory) -- OL Jarrett Kingston, USC
  • Round 7, No. 251 overall -- LB Tatum Bethune, Florida State

San Francisco will going to experience several changes over the next few years, especially with an increasingly expensive and aging roster, plus what'll be a lucrative contract extension for quarterback Brock Purdy in a year's time.

That means some transition is inevitable, and there are some clear winners and losers from the 49ers' latest class of rookies added over the three-day event.

49ers winners

Brock Purdy

Rounds 1 through 4 primarily focused on offense, and the Niners' addition of two wide receivers -- Pearsall and Cowing -- gave Purdy two more create-space targets to bolster the offense behind veterans Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

Getting open was a problem for Purdy's targets in the Super Bowl against the Kansas City Chiefs' sticky man-coverage defense, so adding two players who have good route-running skills will help matters a lot.

Oh, and Purdy gets some added protection with the selection of Puni.

Brandon Aiyuk

Despite a slew of rumors suggesting he could be traded leading up to the draft, Aiyuk wasn't moved and will be on the roster in 2024.

That seems to indicate San Francisco is leaning toward rewarding Aiyuk with a lucrative contract extension after he led the offense in receiving the last two years.

Ricky Pearsall

Pearsall wasn't commonly mocked to the 49ers, and some thought of him as a day-two pick.

That said, the elite route runner goes to arguably the best-fit offense and will be a tremendous asset for Shanahan's system.

Right now, Pearsall fits in as a WR3 candidate who'll see modest action his rookie year. Long term, though, he could end up being the Niners' No. 1 weapon on the perimeter.

George Kittle

It's still true that San Francisco needs to eventually find a long-term starting-caliber replacement for All-Pro tight end George Kittle.

However, had the 49ers added a tight end over the first three or four rounds, it would have signaled a potential premature end for "The People's Tight End."

Next year's offseason could still be crucial for Kittle's future, but the lack of attention at tight end points to him riding out the remainder of his Niners contract, which expires in 2026.

49ers losers

Deebo Samuel

Samuel, too, was a subject of potential trade rumors that were ultimately shot down by Lynch after Round 1 of the draft.

That said, Samuel's tenure with San Francisco is now under threat after the addition of Pearsall, who is versatile in his own right and arguably has a better overall receiving ceiling than Samuel, too.

The 49ers won't be able to keep a trio of Aiyuk, Samuel and Pearsall for long. And, with Aiyuk likely getting extended, parting ways with Samuel in a year's time in a cap-saving move sounds more and more like a reality.

Talanoa Hufanga

Grabbing Mustapha early on day three reinforces previous rumors that the Niners weren't entirely satisfied with All-Pro safety Talanoa Hufanga as a long-term fixture.

Coming off a torn ACL and also entering a contract year, it seems as if San Francisco prefers to go younger and cheaper by adding Mustapha and pairing him with second-year pro Ji'Ayir Brown.

Hufanga will still have a legit chance to retain his starting job in 2024, if healthy. But don't count on him getting a re-sign deal beyond this season.

Elijah Mitchell

Christian McCaffrey is the unquestioned bell cow for the 49ers at running back. But there's some fluidity behind him on the depth chart.

Elijah Mitchell's status as RB2 is very much in question now with Guerendo in the mix. The latter is both big and fast, suggesting he'll be the change-of-pace tailback who'll spell McCaffrey while pushing Mitchell to the periphery.

Tacking on Mitchell's injury history, it wouldn't be too much of a shocker to see a completely revised depth chart for the Niners without him on it.

Ambry Thomas

San Francisco's offseason activities suggested it wasn't comfortable with cornerback Ambry Thomas on the field. The 49ers already added veterans in Rock Ya-Sin and Isaac Yiadom in free agency to beef up the position behind Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir.

All five of those names, however, are free agents in 2025, so it made plenty of sense to grab Green in Round 2, and he'll have a shot to start right away on the boundary opposite Ward, which also keeps Lenoir over the slot.

The Niners may opt to keep only five cornerbacks on the 53-man roster, though, meaning Thomas is already fighting an uphill battle to simply hold onto a roster spot this season.

Right now, he appears to be a likely victim of the numbers game.

Danny Gray

Samuel at least seems guaranteed to hang around for another season, and the only reason San Francisco moves on is because of cost concerns.

Third-year pro Danny Gray, however, simply might be bumped off the roster because of the 49ers' additions of Pearsall and Cowing.

Cowing, in particular, directly threatens Gray's roster spot. Both players have speed. But with Gray, a former third-round pick, he's coming off a lackluster one-catch rookie year and a 2023 campaign in which he didn't see the field at all and spent the season on injured reserve without being activated late.

That pretty much sums up how the Niners feel about Gray right now, and Cowing's addition doesn't help at all.

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