This Day 3 NFL Draft prospect could be a perfect 49ers fit at center

Tanor Bortolini could wind up being the 49ers' next great find on Day 3 of the NFL Draft.
Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Tanor Bortolini
Wisconsin Badgers offensive lineman Tanor Bortolini / John Fisher/GettyImages

The 49ers will seek help for the offensive line in the 2024 NFL Draft, and Wisconsin's Tanor Bortolini might be the ideal day-three target.

The San Francisco 49ers' efforts in 2024 NFL Draft are much more vital than they appear on the surface.

While the Niners have only a handful of starting job available for competition this upcoming season, they do need to begin infusing younger, cheaper talent on both sides of the ball, mainly due to their current salary-cap restraints, the need to pay quarterback Brock Purdy and because a good deal of talent is potentially going to depart in 2025.

Additionally, San Francisco could seek upgrades, including at center over the veteran, Jake Brendel.

Enter Wisconsin interior lineman Tanor Bortolini.

Why Tanor Bortolini makes perfect sense for 49ers in NFL Draft

Bortolini, 6-foot-4 and 303 pounds, is next in a long line of top-quality Badgers offensive linemen who have had success in the NFL.

Originally, Bortolini might have been viewed as a fifth- or a sixth-round draft pick, but an excellent NFL Scouting Combine performance certainly pushed him up the boards and likely into Round 4, particularly his exceptional 7.16-second three-cone drill and his 4.94 40-yard dash.

While his atheticism is a plus, Bortolini draws some concern with his overall strength and arm length. But, as draft analyst Lance Zierlein pointed out, the former Badger makes up for it with exceptional technique:

"Bortolini offer center/guard flexibility with good mass and below-average length. He's well-schooled from a technique standpoint and will fit his blocks with hand placement and footwork to put him in position to succeed. He has decent strength but won't root out single blocks and could have issues dealing with a two-gapping NFL nose tackle. He's fluid on the move as a pulling center and has played in every run-blocking scheme. He's fundamentally sound in pass protection but is inconsistent sliding and catching rushers in the A-gap."

Additionally, Zierlein pointed out that Bortolini exceled in outside-zone blocking schemes, which is head coach Kyle Shanahan's calling card.

Plus, the lineman's versatility to play either center or guard could translate into him being an immediate interior backup with the long-term prognosis of taking over for Brendel in 2025.

Bortolini has found his way onto some Niner Noise draft lists, including a recent mock that had him going in Round 6. While a fall to that spot seems unlikely because of his NFL Combine efforts, he's certainly a reasonable day-three target who could be the next hidden gem the 49ers identify late in the draft.

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