The San Francisco 49ers may have made the boldest move of the 2021 NFL offseason by moving all the way up from No. 12 to No. 3 in the draft (and giving up two future first-round picks to do so). Now they have to make this year's premium pick count, not to mention address several weak points on their depth chart. Beyond pick No. 3, they'll have eight other selections to build their roster. Which rookies could be on their radar? Which positions will they prioritize?
Here's one stab at how the 49ers' entire 2021 draft will play out:
|Round (Overall Pick)||Prospect||College|
QB Trey Lance
CB Kelvin Joseph
WR Damonte Coxie
DT Marlon Tuipulotu
DE Daelin Hayes
TE Noah Gray
S Richard LeCounte III
|6 (194)||WR Brennan Eagles||Texas|
|7 (230)||OG Jake Curhan||California|
The first pick is the biggest here, for obvious reasons. Many pundits now project Alabama's Mac Jones to be the selection, seeing as he's perceived to be the most NFL-ready of this year's top rookie quarterback prospects. We don't doubt that coach Kyle Shanahan likes Jones and could build his offense around the Crimson Tide product. But we're definitely not sold that his grand plan was to jump nine spots in the first round, up to No. 3, using future firsts to do so, all for the oldest, most physically limited of this year's top five QBs.
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Lance would be a diversion from Shanahan's "prototypical" QB mold, but in all the right ways: He's incredibly raw, but with one of the highest ceilings of the class -- a big arm, big frame and big-time running ability. If the 49ers are even half-serious about keeping Jimmy Garoppolo, Lance would be a perfect sit-and-develop starter-in-waiting for 2022. And even if they were to trade Garoppolo, he has more than enough smarts and physical talent to step in and operate a run-heavy attack in San Francisco.
Joseph, in the second, would mark a significant investment in a secondary that needs longer-term cornerback help with Richard Sherman gone and Jason Verrett always an injury risk. Coxie, meanwhile, is a big, physical wideout who could bring some tenacity to a position built more on speed and play-making ability with Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk. The former Alabama and LSU recruit has taken an unconventional path to the pros, and he lacks the high-end explosiveness of many top prospects, but as a long-term red-zone weapon for Lance, he'd make for a potential safety valve alongside George Kittle.
Tuipuloto and Hayes, the fourth- and fifth-round projections here, would help shore up a defensive line that lost some luster during an injury-riddled 2020. Nick Bosa's return off the edge will obviously change things, but it's anyone's guess how long Dee Ford will remain as a major piece of the rotation. The Niners also need more than just Javon Kinlaw and D.J. Jones on the interior.