Who Should the San Francisco 49ers Draft First in 2020?

By Noah Davis in NFL
| April 21, 2020 3:12 pm PDT
John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers are in amazing shape. There have been some questions as to whether or not the franchise fully backs quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, but this team is otherwise set up for years of title contention.

GM John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have pieced together a brilliant roster — one that is built to dominate on the ground and burn defenses down the field. On the other side of the ball, Nick Bosa anchors a defense that can rush the passer and limit explosive plays.

As good as the Niners are, they do have some holes to fill. With the 2020 NFL Draft rapidly approaching, let’s go over their major needs and assess which prospects they could take with the 13th overall pick.

San Francisco 49ers’ Biggest Draft Needs

  • Wide Receiver
  • Defensive Line
  • Cornerback
  • Offensive Line

Emmanuel Sanders left in free agency, so the Niners suddenly have precious little talent at wide receiver behind Deebo Samuel. Adding a wide receiver at some point in the draft is probably encouraged.

You win in the trenches, and few teams understand that as well as the 49ers. Joe Staley will be 36 when the 2020 NFL season begins, and Laken Tomlinson’s contract expires after the 2021 season. Adding a young offensive lineman to groom behind a strong o-line could be a nice luxury move.

San Francisco also could use some help on defense. The team did just trade away DeForest Buckner, while Richard Sherman isn’t getting any younger. Help on a loaded defensive line and a stud corner they can mold are two very appealing directions to take at 13th overall.

The paths are seemingly endless, but with the 13th pick, it’s arguable the Niners should only be looking at a handful of prospects. Here are the best players that could be available when San Francisco makes their first pick of the draft.

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

This is who I mocked to the 49ers earlier in the draft process, so he’s still an option. The need for another receiver is there, this year’s class is loaded, and Ruggs may be the guy that opens up San Francisco’s passing game the most.

Underrated as some one-trick pony, Ruggs actually has a good route tree and is probably the most explosive offensive weapon you can get. The rich get richer.

Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina

You can say the same up front in San Francisco’s defensive line. They traded away Buckner after handing Arik Armstead a huge contract, so it was mostly a financial move.

The Niners can turn around and invest back in that defensive line with Kinlaw, who offers an insane blend of size, quickness, power, and overall athleticism.

CJ Henderson, CB, Florida

As noted, Sherman is 32 now, which is ancient for a cornerback. He also got exposed a bit in the Super Bowl, so reaching for a potential star cover man may be more necessary than people want to believe.

Henderson is probably the only corner to look at here, and it’s worth wondering if 13 is a little too early. That said, Henderson has blazing speed, terrific size, and elite upside in coverage.

Andrew Thomas, OT, Georgia

Lastly, the Niners may want to take a good, hard look at beefing up their offensive line with a look at the big picture. Staley won’t be around forever, so bringing in Thomas to add depth and eventually take over could be a wise move.

Thomas has the versatility to be used on either side, and he’s one of the strongest, most balanced o-line prospects in this draft.

Who Will the 49ers Draft First?

I still really like Ruggs at 13, while the need for o-line and cornerback help when thinking long-term is very real. That said, the Niners may have a real shot at immediately replacing Buckner on their defensive line.

This is a luxury play, but let’s also keep in mind that Solomon Thomas has been a bust (and is in a contract year), plus D.J. Jones and Kentavius Street will both be looking for new deals in the next two years.

Ultimately, I think the 49ers go inside the trenches at 13. I’ll leave things open to a long-term Staley replacement, but the move they made with Buckner makes me think they just dip their toe right back in the defensive lineman pool and snatch Kinlaw (assuming he’s there).

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