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49ers 2022 NFL mock draft: DeMeco Ryans’ defense gets richer in the secondary

A 7-round mock

Syndication: The Columbus Dispatch Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch / USA TODAY NETWORK

The 49ers have a dysfunctional situation going on. General manager John Lynch has continued to throw up a shield on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo after recently saying, “We will not cut Garoppolo—he is too good of a player.

San Francisco’s free agency was suppressed due to Garoppolo accumulating 12.68% of the team’s salary cap. Nevertheless, head coach Kyle Shanahan remains with a core that can compete. NFL franchises take risks on prospects with every selection in the draft.

I’ve been harsh on Lynch and Shanahan’s early draft selections, but we won’t have to worry about an early whiff after the front office mortgaged the future for Trey Lance last season.

One thing I can give Lynch credit for is finding gems in later rounds. Unfortunately, limited resources could force the Niners to miss out on an impact player.

With that being said, we will turn to me playing general manager as I run through a mock draft for the 49ers. I used The Draft Network’s mock draft machine for these selections.

Round 2, Pick No. 61 Overall: Nick Cross, S, Maryland

Signing Charvarius Ward in free agency shifted the new position of need from cornerback to safety after Jaquiski Tartt hit free agency. The 49ers require their safeties to be versatile, rotating in and out of coverage to help disguise defenses.

Nick Cross is a physical box safety that can also hold up on passing downs; Cross has shown.

Measurables

  • Height: 6’0 1/8”
  • Weight: 212 Ibs
  • Arm length: 31 1/2”
  • 40 Yard-dash time: 4.34s
  • Projection: Second round

Pros:

  • Great straight-line speed
  • Sure tackler
  • Can make game-changing plays

Cons:

  • Not a ball hawk
  • Can be a liability in man coverage
  • He does not always play to his speed

Round 3, Pick No. 93 Overall: Jalen Tolbert, WR, South Alabama

Shanahan is widely known as one of the best play-callers in the NFL. Adding another do-it-all receiver bolsters Trey Lance’s receiving core and maximizes Shanahan’s ability to put defenders in conflict.

Jalen Tolbert is a highly decorated receiver from the University of South Alabama. The reigning Sun Belt offensive player of the year averaged 17.98 yards per catch in 2021. He impressed me on Day 1 of the NFL, combine with his precise route running.

Measurables

  • Height: 6’1
  • Weight: 194 lbs
  • Arms: 32 1/4”
  • 40: 4.49s
  • Projection: Third round

Pros:

  • Total package receiver
  • Great release and runs precise routes
  • 50/50 ball and big-catch ability
  • Can play slot and outside WR.

Cons:

  • Has to prove he is a willing blocker.
  • Can improve on winning at the top of the route.
  • Need’s to show he is willing to make contested catches at the next level

Round 3, Pick No. 103 Overall: DeAngelo Malone, Edge, Western Kentucky

Lynch has valued defensive linemen when drafting, but positional needs will force him to look elsewhere (safety.) I endorse moving Arik Armstead to defensive tackle, but he gives the defense room to breathe when playing edge. Armstead can continue to play outside and be kicked inside in passing situations.

2021 Conference USA defensive player of the year DeAngelo Malone can immediately impact San Francisco’s defense in a Dee Ford-like role. Ford’s chronic back problems will likely force the Niners to cut him during camp. Malone shows he can win around the edge and finish for the sack.

Measurables

  • Height: 6’3
  • Weight: 239 lbs
  • 40-yard dash: 4.55s
  • Arm Length: 33”
  • Projection: Fourth round

Pros:

  • Plays bigger than his size entails
  • Has a great bend around the edge
  • has multiple ways to win when rushing the passer

Cons:

  • On the lighter end for an edge player in a wide-nine front.
  • Needs to develop into an every-down player in the NFL

Round 4, Pick No. 134 Overall: Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee

D.J. Jones’ departure is quietly one of the biggest voids to fill in free agency throughout the NFL. Jone’s stats as a 49er do not demonstrate how instrumental he was to the defense. Matthew Butler provides tenacity against the run while showing pass-rushing upside. Butler played more snaps (726) than any other defensive lineman in the SEC in 2021.

Butler capitalized on the NCAA giving players an extra year of eligibility after the COVID-19 season in 2020. He went on to have the best season of his collegiate career, which included five sacks and eight and a half tackles for loss.

Measurables

  • Height: 6’3.5’’
  • Weight: 299 lbs
  • Arm length: 33 1/2’’
  • 40 yard-dash: 5.00s
  • Projection: Fifth round

Pros:

  • Has immediate starter capability,
  • balanced against the pass and run,

Cons:

  • Needs to broaden pass-rushing repertoire,
  • Needs to improve his hands and pad level

Round 5, Pick No. 172 Overall: Ben Brown, IOL, Ole Miss

Laken Tomlinson’s departure brings an open competition to the left guard position. Fans scratched their heads when Aaron Banks never competed for a starting spot during training camp and ultimately barely contributed during his rookie season.

Ben Brown is a left guard turned center that can replace veteran Alex Mack when he decides to walk away. Versatility is key for reserve offensive lineman going in later rounds

  • Height: 6’5
  • Weight: 315 lbs
  • Arm length: 33 7/8”
  • Projection: Fifth round

Pros:

  • has playing experience in a similar scheme
  • a versatile player with guard and center reps under his belt

Cons:

  • Tends to lunge and is not physical with his hands
  • Struggles to anchor during pass set

Round 6, Pick 187: Jean Delance, OT, Florida

The 49ers picked up Mike McGlinchey’s fifth-year option, but his career with San Francisco could come to an end with an underwhelming season. Last year, Jaylon Moore was drafted in the fifth round and showed that he had plenty of upside during the pre and regular season. Drafting another tackle gives the offensive line security and allows Moore to be a swing tackle or allow him to compete for a guard position.

Jean Delance is a sixth-year tackle that started for the Gators in his last three seasons (19’-21.) Delance has played guard, and San Francisco’s front office has already met with him. His athleticism and 36” arms will fair great against elite edge rushers.

Measurements

  • Height: 6’4
  • Weight: 303 Ibs
  • Arm length: 36 1/2”
  • 40-yard dash: - 5.26s
  • Projection: Sixth round

Pros:

  • Shows that he can get to the second and third levels when blocking
  • Has guard and tackle experience
  • Extremely athletic
  • Recognizes blitzes well and can widen out with DEs on pass sets

Cons:

  • Raw player
  • The bad technique causes him to give up sacks
  • Sixth-year senior that enters the NFL as a project

Round 6, Pick No. 220 Overall: Kalon Barnes, CB, Baylor

Deommodre Lenoir and Ambry Thoams both saw action as rookies last year, yet they leave much to be desired. Kalon Barnes tested extremely well on Day 4 of the NFL Combine. Barnes’ speed helped him close on receivers, and it allowed him to compete at a high level as an outside corner in the Big 12 Conference. The blazing cornerback recently visited with the 49ers.

Measures

  • Height: 5’11 1/4’’
  • Weight: 183 Ibs
  • Arm length: 31 3/4’’
  • 40-yard dash: 4.23s
  • Projection: Fifth round

Pros:

  • Recovery speed helps him when beaten off the line
  • Sticky in coverage and gets his hands on the ball
  • Man coverage corer

Cons:

  • Limited size shows up against the run
  • He will have to prove he is a willing tackler at the next level
  • Tends to second guess in zone coverage

Round 6, Pick No. 221 Overall: Zyon McCollum, CB, Sam Houston State

The front office re-signed several reserve cornerbacks, but they can’t stop there. This year’s cornerback class has a drop-off after the top three rated cornerbacks. This is why I waited till the sixth round to select one.

Zyon McCollum is an FCS cornerback with great size and athleticism that could end up being a future starter in the NFL. His size and man coverage ability make him an intriguing prospect.

Measurements

  • Height: 6’2
  • Weight: 202 Ibs
  • Arm length: 31 1/8”
  • 40-yard dash: 4.33s
  • Projection: Fifth round

Pros:

  • Sticky in man coverage
  • Posses the ability to challenge 50/50 balls.

Cons:

  • Does not play to his size in the run game,
  • He is not fluid out of his break and
  • Struggled in zone coverage

Conclusion

This is the first mock draft of many, and I think it addresses the 49ers’ needs. The 49ers have to draft a defensive tackle in the draft. Kinlaw has shown improvement in his rehab, but San Francisco could limit his snaps to try to preserve his knees going forward.

Safety remains the biggest need for the 49ers. Selecting a safety that isn’t limited in coverage is essential to Ryans’ defensive identity. In addition, his aggressive play-calling puts stress on the defensive backs as they often will have little to no help when blitzing.

Wide receiver is a cherry on the top move for me. Drafting a sure-handed receiver makes Shanahan’s vertical passing attack more lethal. It also allows Shanahan to use Deebo Samuel more in the backfield.

The interior offensive line has been stressed (as it should), but I think one position that I may have drafted instead is running back. Of course, drafting three running back’s in two seasons is less than ideal, but the 49ers have to find a way to replicate Raheem Mostert’s explosiveness.