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NFL Combine Day 1 winners the 49ers should target

Three different pass catchers that can immediately improve San Francisco’s passing offense

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 49ers' offense coughed up the chances of reaching a second Super Bowl in three seasons in last year's NFC championship game. Head coach Kyle Shanahan has a trio of great pass catchers in the “YAC Bros” and saw tremendous improvement from third-year receiver Jauan Jennings.

However, it would be wise to surround Trey Lance with as much talent as possible for San Francisco to capitalize on their Super Bowl window. Day 3 of the combine featured quarterbacks, tight ends, and wide receivers, and this year's 2022 NFL Draft class is deep in tight end and wide receiver talent.

We take a look at three new potential faces that can bolster Shanahan’s offense.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, TE, Maryland

After being selected 146th overall in the 2017 NFL Draft, George Kittle turned into an All-Pro. So clearly, the TE1 position is filled, but I think there is an argument for the backup role. Ross Dwelly regressed after showing he could be a reliable target in 2020. Dwelly was out-snapped by second-year tight-end Charlie Woerner last season. Woerner was looked at as more of a blocker, but he improved his hands and route-running.

Adding another dynamic tight end can avenge the duo of Kittle and Jordan Reed. Chigoziem Okonkwo's athletic ability turned heads as he ran the fastest 40-yard dash of all tight ends. His good day of on-field drills together with his 40 times could put him out of San Francisco’s reach.

He was underused when at the University of Maryland, and it would not be a problem for Shanahan to get him involved. Shanahan’s eyes should get big seeing Okonkwo take a jet sweep 54 yards for a touchdown on 3rd & 18.

Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Deebo Samuel and Jennings both improved San Francisco’s receiver room last year. Adding another receiver keeps the prospering receiver core competitive and can catapult them to top-five in the league. Jalen Tolbert brings an arsenal of tools to win against defenders.

He can win on all three levels of the field, has a great release, and is just an all-around ball winner. Before college, Tolbert was a two-star recruit and turned into a superstar at South Alabama, earning back-to-back First-team All-Sun Belt honors and winning Sun Belt Offensive Player of the Year last season.

Tolbert’s speed can help San Francisco's offense take the top off NFL defenses. In the 2022 rookie class, no wide receiver had more 30+ yard receptions than Tolbert.

Erik Ezukanma, WR, Texas Tech

The 2022 NFL Draft class is loaded with wide receiver talent. Erik Ezukanma out of Texas Tech plays with a ton of tenacity like Deebo Samuel. Ezukanma has a bigger frame at 6’3 and 209 pounds but still has the athletic ability to create separation on routes.

Versatility is a must if you want to be a contributor to Shanahan’s offense. Shanahan constantly sends receivers in motion with different responsibilities. Physicality at the catch point is an uplifting trait of Ezukanma.

The Gauntlet Drill is a great test of concentration and fluidity. Ezukanma’s main priority is expanding his route tree, but he can overcome that by simply getting the ball in his hands. This is an offense, driven league.

Outlook

I want the 49ers to add a wide receiver from this draft class. Okonkwo would be a nice addition, but Shanahan could feature the most underused weapon in the NFL in Kyle Juszczyk.

San Francisco has a ton of free agency questions on top of the number one task, with that being finding a trade partner for Jimmy Garoppolo.