49ers Pre-draft Prospect Preview: Wide Receivers

Prior to the start of free agency, just one NFL analyst associated a wide receiver to the San Francisco 49ers in the first round of the NFL Draft. Following the loss of key starters and an additional pick in the Top 15, analysts now have changed their tunes, pinning the receiver position as a 1A/1B first round need.

The 49ers now own seven picks in the draft, after acquiring No. 13 overall in a trade with the Indianapolis Colts. As it currently stands, San Francisco owns zero Day 2 selections (Rounds 2-4).

Many draft analysts expect San Francisco to use a Day 1 pick to help fill the void of Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Sanders became an immediate impact player in 2019 following a mid-season trade with the Denver Broncos. He trailed only George Kittle and Deebo Samuel in yards and receptions in just 10 games with San Francisco. He also was credited with just one drop in 96 targets.

Sanders' exit left San Francisco with a void heading into 2020 in a position that has been regarded as one of the deepest in the draft in recent memory. With a dwindling free-agent pool, draft analysts have mocked up several scenarios with the 49ers landing top receiving talent. Here's a breakdown of eight receivers who have previously been linked to the 49ers with the 13th and 31st picks in the draft according to recent mock drafts.

Henry Ruggs III, Alabama

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 188 pounds

2019 Stats: Ruggs III averaged a team-high 18.7 yards per catch in 2019, while catching 40 targets for 746 yards to go along with seven touchdowns through 12 games.

College Stats: During his three years at Alabama, he recorded 98 receptions for 1,716 yards (17.5 yards per reception) and 25 total touchdowns.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.27 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 42.0"
  • Broad Jump: 131.0

Analysis: One of Ruggs III best attributes heading into the draft has been his speed. His 4.27 40-yard dash at the Combine was the fastest among wide receivers and is the fastest time since John Ross III set the combine record with a 4.22-second time in 2017. Ruggs is capable of lining up in multiple positions and has been compared to the likes of Kansas City Chiefs speedster Tyreek Hill. It's worth noting he registered just one drop throughout his entire 2019 season.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Todd McShay, ESPN: "Coach Kyle Shanahan likes speedy guys who can tack on yards after the catch, and that's what Ruggs does. Suddenly, that arsenal doesn't look too bad with the likes of Deebo Samuel and George Kittle also running routes for Jimmy Garoppolo."
  • Benjamin Solak, The Draft Network: "On wide-open intermediate crossers and RPOs that Kyle Shanahan opens so well, Ruggs will be a deadly yards-after-catch option."
  • Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today: "San Francisco is squarely in the mix for one of this year's best wide receivers. Ruggs, the draft's foremost big-play threat, would unlock new opportunities for Jimmy Garoppolo as a downfield target while still breaking big gains on screens."

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 193 pounds

2019 Stats: Regarded as one of the top wideouts in the nation, Jeudy led the Tide with 77 passes for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games in 2019. He averaged 15.1 yards per reception in 2019 en route to be being named a first-team All-Conference pick for the second-straight year.

College Stats: During his three years at Alabama, Jeudy caught 159 passes for 2,742 yards (17.2 yards per recception) and 26 touchdowns.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.45 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 35.0"
  • Broad Jump: 120.0"

Analysis: According to most NFL analysts, Jeudy has the makings to be a true No. 1 wide receiver. Jeudy went from a deep threat in 2018 to a volume pass catcher in 2019. With a diverse skill set and his polished route-running skills, Jeudy is able to get separation and generate significant yards after the catch.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today: "Kyle Shanahan's pre-San Francisco offenses typically featured a No. 1 wideout who was fed heavily. Grabbing Jeudy, a polished yet explosive pass catcher, would give the 49ers the go-to outside threat that has long been missing."
  • Matt De Lima, Sports Illustrated: "Jeudy would be a great fit for the 49ers' scheme. Great hands, great acceleration, excellent off the line, can set the edge, runs every route, electric after the catch, you name it. The 49ers eventually found Deebo Samuel to be their playmaker in the postseason, particularly in the Super Bowl, but they seemed to be one good player away on offense to seal the deal. Jeudy would be that guy."
  • Chad Reuter, NFL.com: "The 49ers' Super Bowl showing made it very clear that they need to upgrade their receiving corps. Jeudy becomes what Emmanuel Sanders was for the team before moving on to the Saints this offseason."

CeeDee Lamb, Oklahoma

Height: 6-foot-2

Weight: 198 pounds

2019 Stats: Lamb garnered first-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Big 12 honors and was a Biletnikoff Award finalist while leading the Sooners with 62 receptions for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns in 13 starts. His 21.4 yards per reception topped the FBS among players with 40-plus receptions.

College Stats: While catching passes from Baker Mayfield (2017), Kyler Murray (2018) and Jalen Hurts (2019), Lamb amassed 3,292 yards on 173 receptions (19.0 yards per reception) and totaled 33 total touchdowns.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.5 seconds
  • Bench Press: 11 reps
  • Vertical Jump: 34.5"
  • Broad Jump: 124.0"

Analysis: Lamb is regarded as one of the most complete receivers in this year's draft. He is known for his ability to gain yards after the catch and separation quickness. Lamb is a tough receiver who is also reliable. According to Pro Football Focus, Lamb has never dropped a deep pass (20-plus yards) in his three seasons at Oklahoma.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Luke Easterling, USA Today: "George Kittle is Jimmy Garoppolo's No. 1 target, but the 49ers need to give him an elite wide receiver prospect to balance out the target share. Lamb is a complete player who excels after the catch, capable of turning every touch into a huge play. The 49ers made a big trade for this pick, and they need someone who can make an immediate impact."
  • Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network: "The San Francisco 49ers have plenty of speed at receiver, but a possession receiver like CeeDee Lamb will help Jimmy Garoppolo."
  • Jordan Reid, The Draft Network: "From top-to-bottom, the San Francisco 49ers have one of the best rosters across the league. After sending DeForest Buckner to the Colts, the 49ers now hold two first-round selections to add to an already loaded roster. The best player left on the board that makes the most sense for San Francisco is CeeDee Lamb. Pairing him with Deebo Samuel gives Kyle Shanahan's offense one of the more exciting young duos in the league."

Laviska Shenault Jr., Colorado

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 227 pounds

2019 Stats: Shenault Jr. was a second-team All-Conference selection in 2019 after registering 56 receptions for 764 yards (13.6 yards per reception) and four receiving touchdowns to go along with 23 carries for 161 yards and two rushing touchdowns in 11 games (eight starts).

College Stats: In three seasons with the Buffaloes, Shenault Jr. totaled 1,943 receiving yards on 149 receptins (13.0 yards per reception) and four touchdowns in addition to 280 rushing yards on 42 carries and seven rushing scores.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.58 seconds
  • Bench Press: 17 reps

Analysis: Shenault Jr. is said to play like a running back, as the receiver is known for his ability to break tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, he broke one tackle for every 3.73 receptions.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Josh Schrock, NBC Sports: "Deebo Samuel was a perfect fit for the 49ers and Shenault would be another home run for Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. The 6-foot-2 receiver has strong hands and is explosive after the catch. He's got a big body and can play outside or in the slot. Shanahan would be able to scheme up some disgusting stuff with Shenault in the fold."

Jalen Reagor, TCU

Height: 5-foot-11

Weight: 206 pounds

2019 Stats: Reagor was a second-team All-Conference selection, leading TCU with 43 receptions for 611 yards (14.2 yards per reception) and five touchdowns in 12 starts. He also served as a return specialist, returning 15 punts for 312 yards (20.8 average) and two touchdowns in 2019.

College Stats: Reagor caught 148 receptions for 2,248 yards (15.2 yards per reception) and 22 touchdowns in three seasons with the Horned Frogs.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.47 seconds
  • Bench Press: 17 reps
  • Vertical Jump: 42.0"
  • Broad Jump: 138.0"

Analysis: Despite a disappointing 40 time, Reagor is known for his blazing speed and playmaking skills. He is a good route-runner with run-after-the-catch ability.

How he fits with the 49ers:

Brandon Aiyuk, Arizona State

Height: 6-foot-0

Weight: 205 pounds

2019 Stats: Aiyuk garnered third-team Associated Press All-American and first-team All-Pac-12 honors after leading the Sun Devils with 65 receptions for 1,192 yards (18.3 yards per reception) with eight touchdowns. He was also regarded as one of the top returners in the country.

College Stats: In two seasons with the Sun Devils, Aiyuk amassed 98 receptions for 1,666 yards (17.0 yards per reception) and 11 touchdowns.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.5 seconds
  • Bench Press: 11 reps
  • Vertical Jump: 40.0"
  • Broad Jump: 128.0"

Analysis: Aiyuk has size and speed coupled with the ability to create yards after catch. He has the power to break through tackles and can line up both inside and out.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Vinnie Iyer, Sports News: "The 49ers could use some more dynamic, versatile playmaking at the position to complement Deebo Samuel with Emmanuel Sanders leaving in free agency. Aiyuk (6-0, 205 pounds) fits the profile as an impactful slot receiver with his quickness made to make big plays after the catch, with enough speed to get vertical down the middle, too. He needs to get tougher and stronger in his routes to expand to the outside, which can come sooner rather than later."

Tee Higgins, Clemson

Height: 6-foot-4

Weight: 210 pounds

2019 Stats: Higgins led the Tigers with 1,167 receiving yards on 59 catches (19.8 yards per reception) to add to 13 touchdowns while earning first-team All-ACC honors.

College Stats: Higgins registered 2,448 receiving yards on 135 catches (18.1 yards per reception) during his time at Clemson and recorded 14 total touchdowns.

Combine Results: n/a

Analysis: Higgins is a tall receiver who credits Julio Jones and A.J. Green for his style of play. He has good size and wins a lot of 50-50 balls. He's a versatile receiver who played all three receiver spots at Clemson.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Kevin Hanson, SI.com: "Higgins has strong hands and a large catch radius while wins as a vertical receiver."

Justin Jefferson, LSU

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 202 pounds

2019 Stats: Jefferson led the Tigers in receptions and tied for the FBS lead with 111 for 1,540 yards (13.9 yards per catch) in 15 starts. He finished second in the nation with 18 receiving touchdowns in 2019.

College Stats: Jefferson caught 165 targets for 2,415 yards (14.6 yards per reception) and 24 touchdowns during his three seasons at LSU.

Combine Results:

  • 40-yard Dash: 4.43 seconds
  • Vertical Jump: 37.5"
  • Broad Jump: 126.0"

Analysis: Jefferson is known for his quick hands and size. He excels in creating his own separation and has the ability to play inside and outside.

How he fits with the 49ers:

  • Trevor Sikkema, The Draft Network: Jefferson can land with the 49ers if they gain more draft capital in a trade with the Dallas Cowboys with the 17th-overall pick.

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