NFL free agency will officially begin two weeks from today. We don’t know yet what exact salary cap figure will be but the league told teams to prepare for a total around the $180 million mark.
Once the dust settles on free agency we should have a clearer picture on which positions the San Francisco 49ers will need to address at the 2021 NFL Draft. The Niners have nine players from their secondary who need new deals and could look to add some pieces to both the offensive and defensive lines. The 49ers currently hold the 12th overall selection and could have up to 10 total picks.
NCAA schools will start holding their pro days in the coming weeks which will give NFL teams some insight into the prospects who are available. Since there will be no NFL Scouting Combine this year because of the pandemic, teams are allowed to hold up to five one-hour video calls with prospects leading up to the draft.
Here are who some of the major media outlets have San Francisco taking with its first selection of the draft.
Pro Football Focus has the 49ers making a deal with Washington that sees San Francisco trade back from No. 12 to No. 19 and take South Carolina CB Jaycee Horn
After trading back, the 49ers acquire Horn, who should step right in for the departed Richard Sherman. Horn has the third-lowest projected adjusted completion percentage allowed in the draft class in addition to the fifth-best projected playmaker rate (rate of passes broken up or intercepted). - Eric Eager
NFL.com has the 49ers taking Virginia Tech CB Caleb Farley
PFF credits Farley with allowing a passer rating in coverage of just 26.8 in 2019 (he opted out in 2020). My model shows the Virginia Tech product had the best pursuit speed of any available corner in this draft. Combine him with that nasty Niners front, and new defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans will get off to a great start. - Cynthia Frelund
CBS Sports has the 49ers making a deal with the New England Patriots that sees San Francisco trade back from No. 12 to No. 15 and take Alabama CB Patrick Surtain II
After trading down with New England, the 49ers snag the consensus No. 2 corner in the draft, plugging Surtain in as a natural successor to Richard Sherman. - Cody Benjamin
Pro Football Network has the 49ers taking Surtain
It is clear the 49ers are not happy with Jimmy Garoppolo and would have been calling the whole time trying to move up. After watching the first four go, they stick it out with Garoppolo and focus on other needs. One of those needs is at cornerback.
In lieu of a QB, they walk away with possibly the best cornerback in the class in this 2021 NFL First Round Mock Draft. Patrick Surtain II can step in and be their No. 1 corner from the jump. - Tommy Garrett
Sports Illustrated has the 49ers taking Surtain
Running a cover three heavy defensive system, Surtain Jr. possesses the type of athletic profile that is paramount for the 49ers scheme. With size, length and outstanding eye discipline, he is a plug-and-play starter for years to come in place of free agent Richard Sherman. - Ryan Roberts
It’s not surprising to see everyone have the Niners taking a corner. As mentioned above, the team has major holes in the secondary going into the offseason. It looks like veteran Richard Sherman’s days are numbered with San Francisco. Jason Verrett, K’Waun Williams and Emmanuel Moseley all need new deals, while reserve Ahkello Witherspoon could also hit the open market.
If general manager John Lynch could swing a deal to move down a few spots and still net one of the top-rated corners plus some more draft capital, it would be a huge win for the 49ers. Lynch could use the extra assets to possibly trade up for another prospect the Niners’ brass likes, similar to how they did last year to get wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
Most draft pundits have Farley and Surtain listed as the top two corner prospects available this year, with Horn usually listed third.
If San Francisco can somehow re-sign the trio of Verrett, Williams and Moseley, it could alter its plans going into the draft. The 49ers need to add to the offensive line’s interior and could use another pass rusher to the lineup with the returning Nick Bosa.
Which non-QB or non-CB player would you like the 49ers to take if they don’t need to take a corner at this year’s draft?