ESPN just gave Ricky Pearsall, 49ers added motivation to prove doubters wrong

Hopefully, we'll look back at ESPN's recent take on the Niners drafting Ricky Pearsall and laugh.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (14)
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Ricky Pearsall (14) / Robert Kupbens-USA TODAY Sports

ESPN wasn't a massive fan of the 49ers drafting Ricky Pearsall in Round 1, which should give the wide receiver an added incentive.

ESPN's Seth Walder hopes his recent analysis of the San Francisco 49ers' first-round NFL Draft selection of former Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall doesn't come back to haunt him on an installment of Freezing Cold Takes.

Pearsall and the Niners, of course, hope that's precisely what happens.

Walder went through all 32 teams in the wake of offseason roster changes, including the draft, trades and free agency, and cited the biggest outliers.

For San Francisco, using the No. 31 overall pick on Pearsall was a reach. And not just a modest one either.

"Though a fine prospect, that was probably the largest non-QB reach [of] the first round based on expectations of where players would be drafted," Walder wrote.

Granted, many felt the 49ers would address other areas of need in Round 1, namely their offensive line or cornerback group. Especially knowing they already had two bona fide star receivers on their roster in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

And the Pearsall selection did nothing but fuel rumors and speculation about the two veterans' futures with the organization.

Indeed, most big boards and mocks out there tabbed Pearsall as a second-round selection, although it's fair to speculate he could have been on the fringes of a late Round 1 selection anyway, while the Niners getting a fifth-year option on the contract for a first-round player could potentially help matters, too, in the long run.

Does it matter?

No, not really. Walder offered an opinion many likely have of San Francisco's selection, and that's fine. If Pearsall thrives in head coach Kyle Shanahan's offense over the next few years, Walder's take simply winds up being one that was correct, and he won't be the first to have an incorrect take. It happens all the time.

However, Pearsall and the 49ers should use that as motivation.

Ricky Pearsall can play with a 'chip on his shoulder' after ESPN slights him

It's not Pearsall's fault where he was drafted. He has to be thrilled at going in Round 1, getting the better rookie contract than all other second-rounders and going to an offense where receivers can thrive, provided they master Shanahan's intricate system.

That said, no player would admit they were a "reach."

If anything, Pearsall can set out to prove not only that Walder is incorrect, along with anyone else who felt the same way, but the rookie can also justify the Niners' faith in him.

Judging by early reports from offseason workouts, Pearsall was impressive with his footwork and route-running technique, which might eventually go a long way toward being the next in line behind Samuel and/or Aiyuk, depending on what happens with either of those two players over the next year or two.

Should Pearsall thrive and prove those doubters wrong, Walder's take might simply be one of those that served to add "fuel to the fire."

That's what Pearsall and the 49ers are aiming for.

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