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49ers land SEC offensive lineman in 2nd round PFF mock draft

Would you be OK with the team doubling down on OL in the second round for the second year in a row?

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COLLEGE FOOTBALL: FEB 05 Reese’s Senior Bowl Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The goal with mock drafts this year is to introduce you to new names and get familiar with players the 49ers might invest in during this upcoming NFL draft.

You won’t see nearly as many mock drafts this year since the 49ers don’t have a first-round pick, but that doesn’t mean we’re entirely closing the door, especially considering San Francisco's success in later rounds of the draft.

During PFF’s most recent two-round mock draft, the Niners selected an offensive lineman with their No. 61 overall selection. The Niners picked is Kentucky’s Darian Kinnard, who played right tackle, but some feel he may kick inside to guard at the next level.

Kinnard is No. 60 on PFF’s big board. There was no explanation for his selection, but let’s look into his background.

Keeping up with Kinnard

At 6’4, 324 pounds, Kinnard would continue to break the mold of undersized guards if the 49ers were to play him inside. Here’s Bleacher Report and offensive line guru Brandon Thorn’s scouting report on Kinnard:

POSITIVES

— Massive frame with a surprisingly lean build.

— Carries his weight well and has eye-catching burst out of his stance.

— Plays with an aggressive, physical demeanor and finishes with authority.

— Heavy hands to stun and torque defenders when he connects.

NEGATIVES

— Persistently wide and late with his hands, leaving his chest exposed and bear-hugging defenders to sustain blocks.

— High pad level that saps his stopping power and anchor.

— Has a bad habit of leaning and dipping his head into contact that results in falling off of too many blocks.

Here’s Thorn’s summation of Kinnard:

OVERALL

Kinnard is a three-year starter at tackle inside Kentucky’s zone-heavy run scheme under head coach Mark Stoops.

Kinnard has a massive frame with an impressively lean build, and he carries his weight well. He excels on the backside of zone-run plays, where he can use his impressive lateral quickness and size to cover up and cut-off defensive tackles.

Kinnard is capable of generating instant torque and movement on contact to displace defenders when he connects, and he has a mean streak to finish at a high level. However, his pad level and hand placement are extremely up and down, leaving him high, off-balance, and struggling to control blocks consistently.

Overall, Kinnard’s size, flashes of jarring power, and quickness are an intriguing blend of traits worth developing, but he needs to significantly improve his technique before becoming a reliable starter in the NFL.

GRADE: 7.3 (High-Level Backup/Potential Starter - 3rd Round)

Let’s watch some clips. Notice how Kinnard’s feet stop when he seeks contact from the edge rusher during the play below.

That’s a no-no at any level. Kinnard won’t get away with that in the NFL.

When Brandon said Kinnard is “wide and late with his hands, leaving his chest exposed,” it’s because of reps like this:

Kinnard would likely fare better if he were inside since there isn’t as much space for pass rushers to operate, although quicker pass rushers could give him issues.

Kinnard is a people mover and enjoys finishing, though:

Check out his awareness in the clip below back in 2020 when Kinnard played right guard:

A veteran center paired with a rookie guard would make sense for the 49ers. Kinnard attending the Senior Bowl means he’s on San Francisco’s radar. And while I think it’s unlikely the team goes with another lineman for the second straight year in the second round, Kinnard’s profile is the type of player this team drafts.

A multi-year starter with positional versatility upside and is a finisher.