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10 best remaining players for 49ers to target on Day 2 of NFL Draft

© Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports


Many of the prospects 49ers fans hoped would be available on Day 2 are still looking for a home. Whether polished wide receivers, physically gifted cornerbacks, or playmaking safeties, there are several routes the 49ers could go when the 2019 NFL Draft resumes at 4 p.m. Friday.

The 49ers won’t have to wait long to pick. They have the No. 36 overall selection, behind only Arizona, Indianapolis, and Oakland. The 49ers also have the No. 67 pick.

Who are the top available prospects that could fit with San Francisco?

Here are 10 players.

AJ Brown, wide receiver

Pre-draft visits don’t get much more memorable than AJ Brown’s to the 49ers earlier this month. The Ole Miss receiver ran The Hills with Jerry Rice during his visit.

On paper, Brown appears to be the perfect fit at the “Z” spot in Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He’s strong, sure-handed, and excellent after the catch. He caught 75 passes for 1,252 yards and 11 touchdowns in his sophomore year. He was better his junior year, amassing 85 catches, 1320 yards (a school record), and six touchdowns. He posted solid scores across the board during his Combine workout, running a 4.49 40-yard dash and lifting 19 bench reps.

Deebo Samuel, wide/slot receiver

There has been longstanding interest here. The 49ers coached Samuel at the Senior Bowl, and he was one of the week’s standouts. The sides met one month later at the NFL Combine. The 49ers invited Samuel to Santa Clara for an official pre-draft visit earlier this month.

Samuel amassed 62 catches for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2018. He went for 10 catches, 210 yards, and three touchdowns against Clemson, perhaps college football’s closest semblance to an NFL defense.

Samuel would fit nicely at the “Z” position in Shanahan’s system.

D.K. Metcalf, wide receiver

The player who captivated the football world — or at least NFL Twitter — is still available. After Metcalf lifted 29 bench press reps and ran a 4.33-second 40-yard dash, he was widely pegged as a top-15 pick. Perhaps teams were hesitant to use a top pick on him, due to his injury history or middling times in the short-area quickness drills at the Combine.

It’s worth noting that Metcalf’s meeting with the 49ers didn’t go so smoothly. Samuel and Brown seem to be better fits.

Hakeem Butler, wide receiver

Butler is, in many ways, the antithesis of Samuel. Standing at 6-foot-5, 227 pounds, Butler looks like Calvin Johnson. The Iowa State product was good for some Johnson-esque grabs, too, as he used his athleticism to elevate over defenders downfield and occasionally snag passes with one hand out of the air. He ran a 4.48 40-yard dash, which was faster than many expected.

The upside with Butler is massive, but it could take him a bit to blossom. Scouts point to his inconsistent hands, long strides, plodding nature, and spotty route-running as reasons for not going in the first round.

Shanahan values prospects who gain separation and run crisp routes, such as Dante Pettis. Butler doesn’t embody those traits as much as a couple other players on this list.

Riley Ridley, wide receiver

Ridley is another potential fit at the “Z” position. Most critics knock his lack of athleticism — he ran a 4.61 40-yard dash, posted a 30.5-inch vertical jump (which fell in the fifth percentile), and clocked a middling 4.28-second short shuttle at the Combine. But he ran his three-cone — a drill the 49ers value — in 7.22 seconds, the third-fastest of the receivers who participated in the drill.

Ridley’s strengths lie in his route-running, ability to separate, and catch the ball at its peak. He recorded 43 catches for 559 yards and nine touchdowns this past season.

Greedy Williams, cornerback

Williams has been regarded by many as the top cornerback in this draft. That he wasn’t drafted in the first round is a bit of a surprise. There are some inconsistencies with his effort, but Williams is a high-upside player.

The LSU product fits the cornerback prototype in San Francisco’s Cover-3 scheme. He’s 6-foot-2 and ran a 4.37 40-yard dash in February. In two years with LSU, he recorded eight interceptions and 19 passes defended.

The 49ers have Ahkello Witherspoon, Jason Verrett, and Tarvarius Moore battling for the starting right cornerback spot opposite Richard Sherman. But you can never have too many capable corners.

Byron Murphy, cornerback

Murphy is also a consensus top-three cornerback in the draft. The only question is whether he will be around at No. 36.

Nasir Adderley, free safety

The 49ers have doubled down on Jimmie Ward and reiterated their confidence in their current stable at safety, despite subpar production in 2018. It doesn’t feel like the team will address the safety spots with the No. 36 pick, but perhaps they will with the No. 67 pick.

Adderley may not be available in the third round. Arguably the top safety prospect in the draft, the Delaware product is explosive, instinctive, and has a nose for the ball, something the 49ers majorly lacked last year. Adderley returned five interceptions for a combined 135 yards this past season.

Rock Ya-Sin, cornerback

At 6-foot, 192 pounds, Ya-Sin fits the physical profile the 49ers want in their cornerbacks. He’s a little raw, but scouts feel he has big-time potential, due to his fluid athleticism and physique.

Jace Sternberger, tight end

The 49ers interviewed Iowa’s Noah Fant earlier this month, which shows they are at least thinking about pairing a pass-catching tight end with George Kittle. Last year, Garrett Celek caught just five balls for 90 yards in 15 games. Shanahan has built the 49ers offense from the inside-out, and adding another receiving tight end would continue that approach.

Sternberger has a knack for the big play. He averaged 17.3 yards per catch and added 10 touchdowns this past season for Texas A&M.

 

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