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Mel Kiper, Todd McShay offer up 2 rounds of 49ers picks

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The ESPN draft analysts agreed in the first round, went different ways on offense in the second round

The 2018 NFL Draft kicks off three weeks from tomorrow, and that means we are three weeks away from the last of the mock drafts! But before then, Mel Kiper and Todd McShay are here to mix things up a bit. The ESPN duo did a “dueling” two-round mock draft on Wednesday. They each picked for each team, describing these picks as predictions of what will happen rather than their personal preferences.

Kiper did not include any trades in his mock draft, while Todd McShay went with a couple big ones. He has the Buffalo Bills trading up to the New York Giants spot at No. 2 to select Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen. He then has the Miami Dolphins dealing up to the Indianapolis Colts pick at No. 6 to select Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield.

For the San Francisco 49ers first pick at No. 9, both analysts have the team selecting Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. It’s interesting to note that both look at his overall ability and suggest cornerback as his initial job.

Kiper: “Fitzpatrick could start at corner -- opposite Richard Sherman -- or safety for the 49ers, who have a young, talented front seven but need to fill out the secondary.”

McShay: “San Francisco would love if Nelson fell here, but CB is still a need. John Lynch will go for the best player available and Fitzpatrick is the best player on the board.”

The team would figure out opportunities for Fitzpatrick, but initially I would see it as more of a nickel and dime option. Ahkello Witherspoon showed a lot last year and seems to be in position to claim one of the starting outside corner jobs. The team extended K’Waun Williams, but that would not preclude us from seeing Fitzpatrick get plenty of action as a combo player. They could use him in a heavier nickel package, or he could just supplant Williams in the primary nickel role.

The 49ers next pick is at No. 59 in the second round. Kiper has the 49ers selecting Memphis wide receiver Anthony Miller, while McShay as the 49ers selecting Louisville offensive guard Geron Christian.

Kiper: “Miller injured his foot at the end of the season and didn’t participate in testing at the combine. On film, he’s a stud, though we don’t know his true speed. San Francisco could use another playmaker outside.”

McShay: “The 49ers have their QB; now it’s time to help protect him.”

Miller offers a broad range of athleticism, having high school success in track and field. Injuries cost him his first two years in college, but he blew up in a big way his redshirt junior and senior seasons. In 2016, he had 95 receptions for 1,434 and 14 touchdowns. In 2017, he had 96 receptions for 1,462 yards and 18 touchdowns. He suffered a foot fracture that caused him to miss the Senior Bowl and kept him from competing in on-field drills at the NFL Combine. He was medically cleared and took part in full in the Memphis Pro Day on Tuesday.

Christian played tackle at Louisville, but ESPN and project him at guard. He measured in at the Combine at 6’5 298 pounds, which would put him down in that smaller, potentially quicker offensive line body. And depending on how he fares and the future outside, maybe he is an option to eventually replace Trent Brown at right tackle.