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DraftNerds: 2024 San Francisco 49ers Mock Draft

The 49ers will use the Draft to bolster their roster and attempt to return to the Super Bowl. Here are some players they should target!

Dynasty fantasy football is a year-round affair. A sharp manager will be thinking about all aspects of the dynasty season. Those managers keen enough to look ahead will be the ones who can grab themselves an edge over the competition. Industry professionals and content creators will spend most of the dynasty off-season discussing incoming rookies and the related topic, the NFL draft.

We easily fall in love with the next workhorse running back or prototypical alpha wide receiver. But a manager in tune with the entire draft class will find themselves ahead of the game. Whether it is the next road-paving interior offensive lineman or genetic freak edge rusher, we can find ourselves at quite the advantage come April by building an entire picture of how the 2023 class will play out. Those who prepare ahead will not be often surprised at the outcomes.

Credit for the mock draft simulation goes to the Pro Football Network. Team needs are also generated from this site. Compensatory picks have not been assigned or included in this exercise.

2023 Recap

A recap isn’t always necessary when a team loses in the Super Bowl. Fans spent an extra month watching them after the regular season ended. The team is loaded with high-end talent. Christian McCaffrey, Kyle Juszczyk, George Kittle, Trent Williams, and Fred Warner were each all-pros at their positions, and they will all be back for 2024.

McCaffrey led the league in rushing by almost 300 yards while catching 67 balls, which is good for third among RBs. Kittle led all TEs in receiving yards with just over 1000. Brandon Aiyuk’s future might not be entirely certain, but he was solid last year, as he was seventh in receiving yards and second in average per reception. Overall, the team was relatively healthy, with Brock Purdy, McCaffrey, Jusczyk, Aiyuk, and Kittle starting 16 games and Deebo Samuel 15. They will be eyeing improving their depth as a portion of that group ages (Juszczyk 32, Kittle 30, McCaffrey 27).

The Niners signed nine external free agents and traded for another veteran. Eight of those players came on defense with a particular focus on the defensive line, where they are replacing six players from last year, including Arik Armstead, Javon Kinlaw, and Chase Young. On the offensive side of the ball, they will have to replace Ray-Ray McCloud and Charlie Woerner.

Mock Draft

1.31 Cooper DeJean, DB Iowa

The 49ers haven’t had a first-round pick since drafting Trey Lance. With DeJean, they get the ninth overall player on PFF’s big board at pick 31. He starts a trend you will see in my 49ers mock: versatility. While he played primarily at outside corners, his size and skillset project him to be able to play slot corner and free safety as well. His versatility is perfect for the Niners, who face many questions for 2024 and beyond.

Their starting Safety, Talanoa Hufanga, tore his ACL in November. The other starter at the position, Tashaun Gipson, remains a free agent. Hufanga’s contract is up after this season. In his final contract year, he is joined by every potential starter at cornerback, including Charvarius Ward, Ambry Thomas, Deommodore Lenoir, and newcomer Isaac Yiadom. DeJean could be in play at any of those positions in the short and long term. DeJean will make plays wherever he is deployed. He posted seven career interceptions, three of which he returned for touchdowns while adding a punt return for a score in 2023.

2.63 Kiran Amegadjie, OL Yale

Trent Williams is as dominant as ever but will be 36 in July and has 177 starts. They return Colton McKivitz at RT and Aaron Banks, Spencer Burford, and John Feliciano at Guard. Banks and Feliciano will be free agents after next season.

Amegadjie will come up with questions after having played at a lower level. However, he also brings the intelligence of having played at Yale combined with great size. Like DeJean, he is versatile. His snaps were primarily at LT in 2023 and 2022, but he started at LG in 2021. He gives the 49ers a backup at both spots next year, someone who may be able to compete at RT, and most importantly, a potential long-term solution at LT.

3.94 Malik Washington, WR Virginia

Beyond the top four, Washington is my favorite wideout in this class. He checks every box except height, which at 5’8″ is a concern. His personality wins the interview, and his play on the field last year was exceptional. In 2023, he caught 111 balls for 1,384 yards with nine scores, including at least 100 yards in ten of his twelve games.

Washington will most likely be used in the slot, but you can see them finding unique ways to get the ball in his hands. He is built a bit like an RB, so it wouldn’t be a surprise for Kyle Shanahan to flex him into the backfield. His 4.47 forty and 42.5 vertical are evident on the field with explosive plays and yards after the catch, including yards after contact. He will compete immediately with Juaun Jennings for snaps.

4.124 Will Shipley, RB, Clemson

McCaffrey will be 28 in June with over 1,800 combined carries and catches. Elijah Mitchell is a free agent after this year. While the 49ers won’t be moving on from McCaffrey any time soon, Shipley provides a McCaffrey lite alternative as a backup this year and a potential replacement for Mitchell next year.

Shipley caught 85 passes at Clemson, adding to his nearly 3,000 career rushing yards and 31 touchdowns. He also returned 34 kicks, which could be a big deal with the new kickoffs in 2024. I doubt Shipley will ever replace McCaffrey, but Shanahan could use him in many of the same ways.

4.132 Ben Sinnott, TE Kansas St

I will be surprised if he lasts this long in a draft light on tight ends, but if so, the 49ers will run the card in. If Shipley is McCaffrey lite, Sinnott is Kittle lite with a little bit of Juszczyk mixed in. Sinnott started as a walk-on but blew up his last two years, improving steadily in every category, including yards per catch.

Sinnott played all over at Kansas State, including in the backfield, inline, and the slot. The 49ers will love his ability to turn a short pass into a long gain, having averaged a career 13.9 yards per catch. He will provide another dangerous weapon for the offense and is one of the few future starters in this draft.

4.135 Leonard Taylor, DT, Miami

This offseason, San Francisco has seen a big transition at defensive tackle. Arik Armstead and Javon Kinlaw are out, and Maliek Collins and Jordan Elliott are in. On a deep roster, defensive tackle is one space where a rookie can break into the rotation.

Taylor wasn’t perfect at Miami, but he showed the ability to make an impact. He had seven sacks over his career to go with 36 hurries. His numbers were down a bit in his final year, but he did play much more in the A gap. Taylor is the type of player who will benefit from a deep, veteran position group.

5.176 AJ Barner, TE Michigan

Charlie Woerner took his 313 snaps to Atlanta, leaving an opening for a blocking tight end. Barner slides right in. He was primarily a blocker in an offense that should translate well to the pros. While Barner might not be the weapon Sinnott is, he caught 64 balls over his career for five touchdowns. This pick could prove moot should the Lions fail to match Brock Wright’s offer sheet.

5.211 Tanor Bortolini, C Wisconsin

The 49ers line could use an influx of talent. While center Jake Brendel should man the position this year, he is 32 at the start of the season. Banks is a free agent at left guard, and they could use improved play at right guard.

Bortolini has played all over the line. He had 868 snaps sat center in 2023 after playing primarily LG and some right guard in 2022. In 2021, he played primarily right tackle. While speed doesn’t matter at the position, 4.94 at 303 pounds is athletic. He will slide right in as depth at all three interior positions with starter upside down the road.

6.215 Darius Muasau, LB, UCLA

7.251 Trevin Wallace, LB, Kentucky

I am a big fan of the double-up late in drafts. Taking a flyer on two guys with questions instead of just one makes only one need to hit for success. Linebackers are ideal for late-round positions because of the impact they can make on special teams. This might be even larger with the new kickoff. Dre Greenlaw will be coming off a late-season injury, but the team added De’Vondre Campbell and Ezekiel Turner to the All-Pro Fred Warner.

Muasau ran a 4.7 40 at the combine and is known for his motor. He was durable, playing 61 games split between UCLA and Hawaii, including his Covid year. He finished with 436 career tackles, 40 for loss, including 16.5 sacks.

Wallace was even faster with a 4.51 40 but more raw and not nearly as productive in his 35 games. Wallace had 166 tackles, 18 for loss, and ten sacks. His speed should help him immediately on special teams and give the 49ers something to mold.

Fantasy Impact

Shipley, Sinnott, and Washington should all be drafted in rookie drafts. In this scenario, Sinnott is probably at the top of the list and will go in the second round of tight end premiums despite being behind Kittle. He should still get targets while Kittle is there and is one of the few in this draft that I can see as an eventual starting tight end.

At least 20 rookie wide receivers got starts in the 2023 draft. It was full of explosive players like Tank Dell, who frustrate defensive coordinators with their ability to take a short pass and turn it into a long gain. I have read a lot about how deep this class is, but I just don’t see nearly the same number of players who can do that. If Washington lands in a spot where he is given enough targets, I can see him ending up WR5 in this class.

While Shipley is fun and landing in a great spot for him, I don’t ever foresee him being a lead back. That doesn’t always matter if you are getting enough catches, and he is the kind of back who can. This RB class doesn’t have a standout, and while I wouldn’t be seeking him out, there is a scenario where he is a top-five rookie back in this class. Especially if you’re in a league that factors in kick returns.

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