Who 49ers can target in each round, including sleepers

Who 49ers can target in each round of NFL draft, including sleepers originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 2022 NFL Draft is fast approaching and Jimmy Garoppolo remains on the 49ers’ roster, and likely will for some time.

But we aren’t here to talk about that.

Despite not having a first-round pick due to last year’s blockbuster deal to acquire quarterback Trey Lance, the 49ers still have nine picks in the 2022 draft and should be able to add talent to an already title-worthy roster.

Here is the list of the 49ers’ current draft picks:

— Round 2, Pick 61
— Round 3, Pick 93
— Round 3, Pick 105 (compensatory)
— Round 4, Pick 134
— Round 5, Pick 172
— Round 6, Pick 187 (via Denver Broncos)
— Round 6, Pick 220 (compensatory)
— Round 6, Pick 221 (compensatory)
— Round 7, Pick 262 (compensatory)

Below, I’ll go through a few prospects in each round (two, three and Day 3) who the 49ers could target.

Round 2

Jalen Pitre, S, Baylor

The 49ers addressed their cornerback need in free agency by signing Charvarius Ward, but still have a need at safety.

Pitre is a versatile safety who can be lined up at rush end or 15 yards off the ball covering the slot receiver. He’s a good and instinctive tackler who plays the run well. Pitre is fast rising and might not be available when the 49ers go on the clock at No. 61.

Jaquan Brisker, S, Penn State

See a theme?

Brisker is another versatile safety who can succeed in any role. He is a sound tackler who has great instincts. Brisker has good range and is a tone-setting defender with plus athleticism. Like Pitre, there’s a chance he won’t make it to the 49ers in the back end of the second round.

Arnold Ebiketie, EDGE, Penn State

Ebiketie had 9.5 sacks and 46 pressures in his lone season at Penn State. He has great initial burst off the edge and excels at gap penetration. He would be a great pass-rush specialist in Year 1 with room to grow into a bigger role for the 49ers opposite Nick Bosa.

Round 3

Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia

While the 49ers need to fill the hole at safety and on the defensive line, they also need to bolster their offensive line depth.

Salyer profiles as a guard at the NFL level but he can slide over to tackle if needed. The 6-foot-3, 321-pound lineman is a powerful run blocker with good athleticism and mobility in pass protection. His versatility could make him a good grab in the third round.

Calvin Austin, WR, Memphis

Let’s get into the skill guys.

Austin is an undersized receiver who makes up for it with his track speed (4.32 40-yard dash) and his quick release against the press. He posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Memphis. Austin has the foot quickness and loose hips to be a dangerous NFL slot receiver. He’s an offensive weapon who can attack defenses in many different ways.

Channing Tindall, LB, Georgia

Here’s an underrated player who could be a steal in Round 3.

Tindall was surrounded by a number of elite prospects at Georgia, so it’s easy to dismiss his production as a product of the dominant front that played in front of him. But Tindall is a versatile, aggressive linebacker who can blitz from inside or off the edge, is a solid run defender and can make plays in pass coverage. He could be a core special teams player at first before growing into a starting linebacker next to Fred Warner.

Rounds 4-7

Jelani Woods, TE, Virginia

It’s sleeper time, so let’s start with the 6-foot-7, All-ACC tight end from Virginia.

A former QB, Woods still is new to the tight end position. He has a long frame with 34-inch arms and knows how to use his size to bully smaller defenders. His size and wingspan make him a potential mismatch down the seam. His height and size make him a weapon both in fade routes and slants in the red zone. He needs to become a better route-runner and shore up his blocking, but Woods is full of potential.

Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee

Speed, vision, balance, YAC.

That’s where Jones excels. Last season at Tennessee, Jones caught 62 passes for over 800 yards, seven touchdowns, and racked up 1,722 all-purpose yards. He has straight-line speed and lateral speed which allows him not to lose a step when running routes. Most of his targets came within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage as he wasn’t asked to run a very diverse route tree at Tennessee. Jones, 25, spent six years in college between USC and Tennessee which likely will give some teams pause.

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But his speed and explosiveness have seen him start to creep up draft boards and he could be another nice weapon for Kyle Shanahan to put in the arsenal for Lance.

Phidarian Mathis, DT, Alabama

The 6-foot-4, 310-pound Mathis is a scheme versatile defensive tackle with long arms and a wide body. He has powerful hands, good first step explosiveness, and plays the run well. He likely will have to come off the field on passing downs. Shades of A’Shawn Robinson. Mathis should have a productive NFL career as a rotational defensive lineman.

Mykael Wright, CB, Oregon

Wright is a good cover corner who lacks the size and length to play outside on Sundays. He’ll have to be an inside-only corner in order to succeed in the NFL. Still, Wright has a high football IQ, is sticky in man coverage and great in zone, and has great ball skills. The lack of versatility and NFL size will see him fall to the later rounds, but there’s reason to believe he could be a solid slot corner eventually for the 49ers. Has drawn comparisons to K’Waun Williams.

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