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Todd McShay has the 49ers passing on Justin Fields to select a CB in his latest Mock Draft

The Niners select one of the best athletes in the draft

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 12 Rhode Island at Virginia Tech Photo by Lee Coleman/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Now that the San Francisco 49ers regular season is over, it’s time to turn the page and talk about what’s coming next. We’ll continue to discuss the unrestricted free agents on the team, as we have with Jason Verrett and Kendrick Bourne this week. We’ll get into breaking down some potential Niners draft targets, too. What would the offseason be without a mock draft each week?

ESPN’s Todd McShay released his first post-regular season mock draft on Thursday, and he has San Francisco drafting a quarterback. For those of you hoping for a quarterback, BYU QB Zach Wilson went No. 4 overall to the Falcons, while Ohio State QB Justin Fields fell to No. 15 and landed in the lap of Bill Belichick. North Dakota St. QB Trey Lance went No. 19 to Washington’s Football Team, and the Colts took Mac Jones from Alabama at No. 21.

Here’s who the Niners selected at No. 12, where McShay added that they weren’t allowed to make trades for this mock:

12. San Francisco 49ers

Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech*

The 49ers’ pass defense was a strength this season, ranking fourth in yards allowed per game (207.9). But here’s the list of pending unrestricted free agents at cornerback: Richard Sherman, Jason Verrett, Ahkello Witherspoon, K’Waun Williams and Dontae Johnson. Injuries hurt San Francisco all over this season, but there isn’t a bigger question mark on the team going forward than at corner. Enter Farley, a 2020 opt-out with terrific ball skills. He had four interceptions for the Hokies in 2019.

Could the Niners make a change at QB? Of course, especially if Justin Fields were actually to fall this far. (He is dropping in this mock mainly because there aren’t any trades.) Jimmy Garoppolo is only under contract for two more seasons, has very little guaranteed money still owed to him and has battled injuries during his time with the 49ers.

If the 49ers decide to keep Jimmy Garoppolo, that shouldn’t prevent them from taking Fields if he fell. Some would argue they should take Trey Lance. I asked Rob Lowder the same question I’ll ask you. Are you comfortable with a quarterback sitting on the bench for Year 1 and not getting any production out of him? I’m not sure how I feel about that.

In this hypothetical situation, Garoppolo could either raise his game due to competition or falter. We’ve seen both sides of this coin recently around the NFL. Look at how drafting Jalen Hurts affected Carson Wentz. Then again, Jimmy could take it personally and rise to the challenge. I’m on the fence about drafting a QB in the first round and keeping Jimmy, mostly for financial reasons.

I’ve seen enough of Farley to know he’s a top-end athlete who can flat out fly. Farley made The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman’s annual preseason “freak” list. Farley is 6’2”, 207 pounds, and was clocked at running 24.16 mph on the GPS tracker. Raheem Mostert had the two fastest carries in the NFL this past season at 23.09 MPH and 22.73 MPH.

Alabama CB Patrick Surtain went No. 10 overall to the Cowboys if you’re a fan of him. Farley likely has more upside and probably isn’t far off from Surtain talent-wise. As a sophomore, Farley had 12 pass breakups and four interceptions. He played a bit out of control at times, and that led him to missing tackles or being out of position, but if you’re building a cornerback in a lab, he will look like Farley.

It would have been nice to have Richard Sherman take a young cornerback under his wing, but that doesn’t appear to be likely anymore as many believe Sherman has played his last game with the 49ers. Still, the Niners' culture is strong enough, and they have leaders who could show Farley the ropes.

Other cornerbacks who went in the first round: Ohio State’s Shaun Wade to the Chargers at No. 13 ( I want no part of Wade) and Derion Kendrick of Clemson went No. 32 to the Chiefs. If South Carolina’s Jaycee Horn fell to the Niners in the second round, I’d sprint to the podium if I were John Lynch.