Sneaky-big 49ers need gets addressed in insider's latest mock NFL Draft

The Niners can worry about offensive linemen in Rounds 2 through 7, right?
Missouri defensive back Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
Missouri defensive back Ennis Rakestraw Jr. / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

While an offensive lineman is a popular pick in Round 1 of the NFL Draft, Sports Illustrated's Matt Verderame has the 49ers going in a different direction.

The San Francisco 49ers unquestionably need offensive linemen. Right tackle could use an upgrade, right guard Jon Feliciano has hinted at retirement after this season. Center Jake Brendel is modestly OK as a starter, but that's it.

Fortunately for the Niners, this year's draft has plenty of O-linemen who'll likely turn into quality additions at the pro level, and they can be had on all three days.

Looking around at many of the Round 1 mock drafts out there, including some of our own, it's not hard to see general manager John Lynch targeting an offensive lineman with his team's first pick at No. 31 overall in Round 1.

However, according to our former FanSided colleague and now-Sports Illustrated NFL insider Matt Verderame, San Francisco opts to address another key need, one that might not be as popular as an offensive lineman but is nevertheless just as crucial.

49ers pick up talented cornerback in Sports Illustrated's latest mock draft

While he might be closely associated with the 49ers' biggest postseason nemesis as of late, the Super Bowl-winning Kansas City Chiefs, Verderame has a pretty good pulse on what the Niners should be doing this offseason.

Specifically, tying in the depth of this year's O-line class in contrast to that at cornerback, another key San Francisco need.

In Verderame's latest mock, he has the 49ers grabbing Missouri cornerback Ennis Rakestraw Jr.

Breaking down the pick makes excellent sense, particularly in light of his Round 1 mock featuring a run on offensive tackles:

"With so many tackles off the board, the 49ers can circle back on Day 2 and take a corner. Rakestraw would be a plug-and-play corner alongside All-Pro Charvarius Ward. And if Ward has only one year left in the Bay Area, Rakestraw could be his replacement.


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The 5-foot-11 and 183-pound Rakestraw is a fringe first-rounder who can operate efficiently in both man- and zone-based coverage schemes.

While the player is intriguing enough, the need is even more provocative.

Ward, as Verderame noted, is a free agent in 2025. So are fellow corners, Deommodore Lenoir, Isaac Yiadom and the recently signed Rock Ya-Sin, and the Niners' pending salary cap situation will make it challenging to re-sign even just two of those names.

Unlike the offensive line, cornerback doesn't feature nearly the number of top-level prospects in this year's draft, meaning San Francisco could be wiser by addressing that need early and tabling the O-line concerns until day two.

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