The 49ers drafted a wide receiver with one of their initial three picks in the past three drafts. It had been 18 consecutive drafts where the 49ers had selected a wide receiver.
That changed in 2021 as the 49ers selected QB Trey Lance No. 3 overall, then added four more picks as an investment for their quarterback. San Francisco elected to neglect a couple of positions that many of us felt needed to be addressed.
Wide receiver was one. Did the 49ers miss an opportunity? It may seem that way, especially with the team trading up for a running back. Two running backs went when Sermon was selected and where the Niners' fourth-round picks of No. 117 & 121 went. I don’t blame their process as Sermon is a superior back to any runner who was available.
Six wide receivers went in between the 49ers' picks. Even after the selection of Jaylon Moore, San Francisco had a chance to take names many were familiar with. They didn’t, which tells us the Niners didn’t view wide receivers as much of a need as that outside of the building.
Some wanted San Francisco to select a slot receiver, but those types of players usually only do a couple of things well. If you’re going to take a receiver, he should bring a lot to the table. The 49ers didn’t feel like the wideouts available at either of their picks could do that, which is why they passed.
After the draft, head coach Kyle Shanahan said he felt like the team could win with the receivers on the roster:
Yeah, with the receivers, we’ve got we’ve got a number of NFL receivers. aAnd what I mean is guys who are NFL players. We’ve got more than six of those. You always look to upgrade, and if we think there’s a slot receiver or outside receiver that could make our team or beat the guys out in front of them, we would never hesitate as long as it makes sense financially. But I also think we can win with the receivers we have. We’ll always continue to look to get better.
The next question you have to ask yourself is which Day 3 receiver would take a roster spot over one of the following:
Taking a flyer on a receiver on the third day of the draft would have been nice in theory, but the names above fit the same mold, outside of Hurd, who is expected to be WR3 come training camp.
You have speed in Benjamin and Sherfield. You have the big-body targets in Sanu and Jennings. Then, with James, you have your gadget player. It never felt like the 49ers missed out at wide receiver during the draft, so I won’t criticize them now that we have the luxury of hindsight.