3 surprise draft picks the 49ers could make at No. 31 overall

A lot of players have been mooted at No. 31 for the 49ers, but what about some surprise selections at the position?
NFL Combine
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Max Melton
Maryland v Rutgers / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

3. . . 452. . Cornerback . Max Melton. 3. Max Melton. player

One of the things I love when I do my draft research throughout the year is when I zero in on somebody I really love ahead of time and then the national media catches up. I've been an unashamed fan of Max Melton for months when he was on the Day 2/Day 3 bubble, and I highlighted why I thought the 49ers should be interested in him after a very successful NFL Combine:

"Melton had three interceptions and six passes defended for Rutgers in 2023, following up a breakout 2022 season where he had two interceptions and nine passes defended. Because Rutgers has not had a good program, he's gotten lost in the shuffle somewhat.

So what does he bring that the 49ers would want on their team?

What Melton has is a relentless motor. He gives maximum effort with every play and is an aggressive and relentless defender. San Francisco's defense had some admitted problems with effort, and Melton provides the spark that the team might need to go one better next season.

Part of the spark is his willingness and skill in run support. Run defense was a weakness for the 49ers this season, so anything that helps is welcomed. What's also welcomed is his versatility where he can fit in either a man- or a zone-based scheme, so the Niners won't need to worry about fit.

Physically, Melton might be slightly undersized at 6-foot-0 and 190 pounds (this is his Rutgers-listed mesasurables), but he's strong, physical and he's fast enough to run with any corner. From an athletic standpoint, he ticks the boxes you need from a NFL-caliber corner, so what's stopping him from first-round consideration?"

Jeremy Wohlfart, Niner Noise

Melton didn't quite make it to consensus first-round contention, but he's well and truly a Day 2 prospect now who could very easily make it within the top 50 picks. The 49ers have shared my interest in Melton (or maybe they're readers of this site), and scheduled their own meetings with Melton.

Five or six of them, to be precise.

Melton is a true dark horse to be a first-round selection, but there's usually someone who defies the experts and the draft boards to fly into a Thursday night pick. The 49ers have shown heavy interest in Melton and he fills a position of utmost need. Is it that ridiculous to think he's a shot?

And just to cap it off, he's a 49ers fan as well.

Next. Why 49ers have zero interest in trading Brandon Aiyuk (despite rumors). Why 49ers have zero interest in trading Brandon Aiyuk (despite rumors). dark