San Francisco 49ers 2024 NFL draft picks: Selection analysis

ByNick Wagoner ESPN logo
Sunday, April 28, 2024

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 2024 NFL draftbegan Thursday night in Detroit and will wrap up on Saturday. The San Francisco 49ersare scheduled to make nine of the draft's 257 picks, which started with the No. 31 selection of the first round on Thursday night.

ESPN will provide pick-by-pick analysis of each of the 49ers' selections as they are made.

A look at each of San Francisco's scheduled selections:

Analysis of every pick | Updated depth chart

Round 1, No. 31 overall: Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

My take: Regardless of the speculation swirling around their current receivers, the 49ers needed to make a significant addition at wide receiver in this draft. With Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings entering the last year of their rookie contracts and Deebo Samuel's cap charge set to spike this year, the 49ers had to begin planning for the future. The question now is what does it mean for the group already in place? It would be wise to stick with what they have given their Super Bowl desires, but drafting Pearsall will only heat up the rumor mill about a potential trade.

Is this a pick for depth or does it fill a hole? In many ways, it's both. Kyle Shanahan is notoriously hard on young receivers, so it's going to be difficult for Pearsall to get on the field right away with the offense. But the Niners probably won't need him to do much immediately unless they trade one of Aiyuk, Samuel or Jennings. The eventual hope is that Pearsall can be a starter but it feels unlikely that the Niners will ask that of him right away. More likely, he'll push to help as a returner in his rookie season.

Ties to the team to know: How's this for a coincidence? Pearsall began his college career at Arizona State, where he was teammates with ... Aiyuk. While it remains to be seen whether that duo will play together next year, there's another key Sun Devils tie here: former Arizona State coach Herm Edwards is one of Niners general manager John Lynch's closest friends.

Round 2, No. 64 overall: Renardo Green, CB, Florida State

My take: The 49ers entered Friday with significant short- and long-term needs at cornerback, so it's no surprise they went for one at this point. Starters Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir are both slated to be unrestricted free agents next offseason. Green joins a crowded room that includes that duo as well as Ambry Thomas, Darrell Luter Jr., Samuel Womack, Rock Ya-Sin and Isaac Yiadom, but the Niners hope he can contribute on special teams right away and eventually carve out a defensive role.

Will he start as a rookie?No, but he should have a chance to compete for a role in training camp. Lenoir and Ward will handle the starting duties, and if Green can prove he's the third-best corner, he could play with Lenoir moving inside to nickel. Green's 14 pass breakups were most in the ACC and tied for fourth most in the FBS last year, the kind of ball skills the Niners covet. If that translates, he could work into the mix sooner than later.

Round 3, No. 86 overall: Dominick Puni, OL, Kansas

My take: With each of their first three picks, the Niners have filled their biggest needs, with Puni perhaps filling the most important on the offensive line. Puni played left guard and left tackle in college and was one of three FBS left tackles not to allow a sack with a minimum of 700 snaps at the position last season. The Niners can use competition at right tackle and right guard, and the left guard spot could be open as soon as 2025, with Aaron Banks set to be a free agent after this season.

Will he start as a rookie? The Niners are bringing back all five of their starters on the offensive line, which indicates it will be tough for Puni to break into the lineup. Still, there's room to battle for the right tackle job with Colton McKivitz or at right guard with Jon Feliciano and Spencer Burford. More likely, Puni is a backup in 2024 with an eye toward a bigger role in 2025 and beyond.

Round 4, No. 124 overall:Malik Mustapha, S, Wake Forest

My take:The Niners have had good luck with mid-round safeties in recent years and hope Mustapha can be the latest example. With Talanoa Hufanga coming off injury and in the last year of his rookie contract, the Niners needed another safety with starting potential. Mustafa only allowed one touchdown in 304 coverage snaps in 2023. He should have a chance to contribute on special teams right away and eventually battle for a starting job in the defense.

Round 4, No.129:Isaac Guerendo, RB, Louisville

My take: Niners general manager John Lynch indicated this week he'd be aggressive in trying to make more picks in the middle rounds because this draft isn't as deep as others. True to his word, he dealt a pair of fifth-round picks to the Jets for Guerendo. Elijah Mitchell (unrestricted) and Jordan Mason (restricted) are slated to be free agents after the season, which means Guerendo should have a year to acclimate before much will be asked of him behind Christian McCaffrey.

Round 4, No. 135:Jacob Cowing,WR, Arizona

My take: The Niners continue to plan for the future at receiver but Cowing offers a little different flavor than some of the other options on the roster. Cowing is smaller (5'8, 168 pounds) than the team's other wideouts but offers speed (4.38-second 40-yard dash) and a nose for the end zone after catching 13 touchdowns in 2023. Cowing probably won't have much of a role in the offense right away, but the Niners have room for multiple young wideouts to have expanded roles in 2025 and beyond.

Round 6, No. 215 overall: Jarrett Kingston, G, USC

My take: With Aaron Banks and Jon Feliciano scheduled for free agency after the season, the Niners need to cultivate depth and competition for the future. Third-round pick Dominick Puni and Kingston at least give the Niners a couple of options to develop on the interior. San Francisco still hasn't added any offensive tackles, which is arguably the greater need, but it appears any significant move there will have to wait.

Round 7, No. 251 overall: Tatum Bethune, LB, Florida State

My take:Bethune is the first and only linebacker of this class for the Niners, who are looking to restock depth. Dre Greenlaw is coming off a torn Achilles and entering the last year of his contract, which opens the door for someone to step in. VeteranDe'Vondre Campbellis likely to get the chance to fill in this season but youngsters like Dee Winters, Jalen Graham and now Bethune will have a chance to earn a bigger role in 2025 and beyond.

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