The 49ers have two picks in the first round this year and the majority of 49ers fans and media are clamoring for a wide receiver. It’s easy to see why considering the Niners receiving corp is severely depleted, and they have yet to find a true number one receiver since Shanahan’s tenure began in 2017. But should the 49ers really be looking to spend a day one pick at the position, or would it be better to wait until day two?
As it stands now, the 49ers don’t currently have a day two pick, however trading down from either pick 13, pick 31, or both, would no doubt net them a couple of day two picks. But why would they wait when they can have their pick of the top wide receivers in the class at 13? Is there really better value on day two, or is that just a myth?
Let’s take a quick look at wide receivers drafted in the past 5 years (2015-2019)
Marquise Brown, N’Keal Harry, Calvin Ridley, DJ Moore, Corey Davis, Mike Williams, John Ross, Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, Laquon Treadwell, Amari Cooper**, Kevin White, DeVante Parker, Nelson Agholor, Breshad Perriman, Phillip Dorsett
Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown**, Mecole Hardman, JJ Arcega Whiteside, Andy Isabella, DK Metcalf, Courtland Sutton, Dante Pettis, D.J. Chark, Christian Kirk, Anthony Miller, James Washington, Zay Jones, Curtis Samuel, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Sterling Shepard, Michael Thomas**, Tyler Boyd, Devin Smith, Dorial Green-Beckham
Diontae Johnson, Jalen Hurd, Terry McLaurin, Miles Boykin, Michael Gallup, Trequan Smith, Cooper Kupp, Taywan Taylor, Ardarius Smith, Carlos Henderson, Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Chad Williams, Amara Darboh, Braxton Miller, Leonte Carroo, Tyler Lockett, Jaelen Strong, Chris Conley, Sammie Coates, Ty Montgomery
Players in bold have had at least one season with 1,000 yards receiving in their career. **Players with two asterisks had 1,000+ yards receiving in their rookie season.
So, the first thing we notice is that the 3rd round gets pretty dicey. Godwin, Kupp, Golladay, and Gallup are obviously great values, and McLaurin had a nice rookie campaign, but that’s 4 hits out of 21, and some of those names are unrecognizable.
Round two gives us the best receiver of the entire bunch - Michael Thomas. He’s had four straight 1,000 yard seasons to start his career, including an NFL record 149 receptions in 2019. He was drafted behind 1st round picks Corey Coleman, Will Fuller, Josh Doctson, and Laquon Treadwell in 2016.
And finally round one. In the past five years of the NFL draft, the first round has produced one true number one receiver - Amari Cooper. Moore, Parker, and Williams are all fine receivers in their own right, but they’ve played a collective 10 seasons in the league and have a total of three 1,000 yard seasons between them to show for it.
It really is hard to believe, but recent history seems to show that the 2nd round is where the true value is at the position. So does that mean that the 49ers should avoid drafting a wideout in the 1st round?
I don’t think so. I think they should trust their scouts, and their GM, and their coaches, and other talent evaluators, and make the decision that they feel is best for the team.
But if they decide to trade down, and don’t draft a wide receiver in the first round, just know that historically speaking, taking one on day two can be just as good - and in some cases better.
And now onto those links:
Continuity-minded 49ers at advantage if offseason is shortened (Kyle Madson, Niners Wire)
John Lynch provides behind-the-scenes look at his home office, says 49ers will be ready for the draft (David Bonilla, 49ers WebZone)
NFL odds: 49ers have third-highest over/under win total for 2020 season (Alex Didion, NBC Sports)
49ers had virtual meeting with Michigan State DL prospect (Kyle Madson, Niners Wire)
Stephen A. Smith picks the 49ers as the favorites in the NFC to reach Super Bowl LV (David Bonilla, 49ers WebZone)
Why Cam Newton is unlikely to join 49ers as Jimmy Garoppolo’s backup (Brian Witt, NBC Sports)
49ers Using their Platforms to Aid COVID-19 Efforts (Kelana Martin, 49ers.com)
49ers’ Arik Armstead aids Sacramento small businesses in coronavirus pandemic (Marcus White, NBC Sports)
Ex-Cardinals Linebacker Adds Depth to 49ers (Doug Williams, NBC Bay Area)
49ers Free Agency: Reviewing Leftover Offensive Needs (Jose Luis Sanchez III, SI.com)