6 potential NFL Draft prospects who can replace key 49ers

The 49ers could look at drafting potential 2025 departures in 2024.
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) versus Washington Huskies cornerback Elijah Jackson (25)
Texas Longhorns wide receiver Adonai Mitchell (5) versus Washington Huskies cornerback Elijah Jackson (25) / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages

With the San Francisco 49ers having each of their own picks in the first four rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft, in addition to two additional picks in the fourth round, this could be the path they take in finding replacements to potential departures ahead of 2025.

Some key Niners players may be playing their last season for the defending NFC champions.

Recently, there has been an abundance of trade talk regarding star wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. He is a free agent after this new NFL season, and talks of an extension have not materialized just yet.

The possibility of him being traded is also present, leaving just Deebo Samuel and Jauan Jennings as the mainstays in the wide receiver locker room. Depth wideouts Ronnie Bell and Chris Conley are far more ancilary pieces.

With the 31st overall pick in the draft, San Francisco may take Aiyuk's replacement.

One player offers that potential in the first-round and another has similar intrigue in the third round.

Adaonai Mitchell, out of the University of Texas, is a potential big target for quarterback Brock Purdy at 6-foot-4' and about 200 pounds. In 2023, Mitchell had 55 receptions, 845 yards and 11 touchdowns for the Longhorns.

Mitchell nearly doubled his production in terms of receptions and touchdowns from his two previous years in Austin, Texas. Last season, all three of his games that he had over 100 yards receiving came against nationally ranked opponents.

If Mitchell is off the board by the time the 49ers get to pick, another viable wide receiver could be available on Day 2 at pick No. 94 overall.

He also bares a familiar last name to the Bay Area.

At 6-foot-3' and 210 pounds, Brenden Rice would stay in state if drafted by San Francisco. He had a big season for the University of Southern California Trojans in 2023.

Rice had 45 receptions, 791 yards and a dozen touchdowns. After two years of playing for the University of Colorado, he took his talents to Los Angeles to play under quarterback Caleb Williams.

The son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice had four receptions in the end zone his first year at USC and was able to triple that production a year later. The younger Rice could extend the family history and legacy playing for San Francisco.

Changing of the guard: Replacements for Trent Williams and Jon Feliciano

Late into the second round at No. 63 overall, the Niners should swoop in on the guard out of the University of Connecticut, Christian Haynes. At 6-foot-2' and 313 pounds, he will be tough for opposing defenses to move off the line.

Haynes could fill the void of an aging Jon Feliciano to help make the offensive line younger and more durable.

The same could be said at tackle, as Trent Williams is well on the wrong side of 30 years old.

Enter Patrick Paul out the University of Houston.

His size is also an advantage at 6-foot-7' and 315 pounds. Rotating in both rookies to learn under Felciano and Williams can also add depth to the roster as we know the injury bug his plagued San Francisco in many years prior.

Making the 49ers secondary a primary focus in the 4th round

Despite having the 124th pick overall, the 49ers will also pick twice more that round, barring any trades. At Nos. 132 and/or 135 overall, a replacement for soon-to-be free-agent cornerback Charvarius Ward exists.

Cornerbacks Celen Carson out of Wake Forest and Josh Newton from Texas Christian University are worth taking a look at the end of the draft's second day. Again, taking this veteran-heavy roster and infusing some youth to it has tremendous upside in both the short and long term.

In the four years Carson played for the Demon Deacons, he recorded 119 total tackles, 26 passes defended, three interceptions and forced two fumbles. Around a locker room full of leadership and an established coaching staff, Carson's stats can improve as he develops an even stronger game in the takeaways by picking off more opposing quarterbacks.

After three seasons at the University of Louisiana in Monroe (ULM), Newton played two more years (Covid-eligible) for the Longhorns at TCU. He tallied 68 total tackles, 19 passes defended and four interceptions including a pick-six in 2022.

Defensive talent can be found in any round of the draft and even afterwards as Ward, himself, went undrafted in 2018. Carson and Newton, if selected, have a chance to prove that sentiment as the 49ers look to not only return to the Super Bowl but to capture victory in it for a sixth time.

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