Overshadowed Alabama Receiver ‘Perfect' for 49ers

Henry Ruggs III, a teammate of heralded Jerry Jeudy with the Crimson Tide, could be the best wideout in the draft for Kyle Shanahan’s offense

Henry Ruggs III.
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

In general, the 49ers need a playmaking wide receiver. Specifically, the best fit might be Alabama’s Henry Ruggs III.

In a draft deep in talented wide receivers, Ruggs is highly regarded – but behind more heralded wideout prospects such as Jerry Jeudy (his Crimson Tide teammate), CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma or Justin Jefferson of LSU.

Yet some see Ruggs as exactly the player Kyle Shanahan needs to make his receiving corps much better in 2020.

And, with the 13th pick in the first round, the 49ers may be in position to select Ruggs when their time comes on April 23.

Former NFL scout and current NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah ranks Ruggs as the No. 3 wideout in this draft and the 12th-best overall prospect. Jeremiah says Ruggs “has an unbelievable blend of speed and toughness.” Jeremiah says Ruggs has “world-class speed” (he runs a 4.27 40-yard dash) and is explosive after the catch.

And, the analytic website Pro Football Focus lists Ruggs as the perfect pick for the 49ers at No. 13 because his playing style is suited well to Shanahan’s passing scheme.

Writes PFF: “Ruggs’ most-targeted routes, excluding screens, over the last two seasons were the in, slant and crosser (Jimmy Garoppolo led the NFL in target percentage to those routes). The success Ruggs had on those routes this past year is pretty insane – on 20 such targets in 2019, Ruggs caught 15 and averaged 26.5 yards per catch and 15.2 yards after the catch per reception, generating 11 explosive plays in the process.”

Ruggs, who is 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds, is coming off a junior season in which he caught 40 passes over 12 games for 746 yards and seven touchdowns. Over three seasons at Alabama he averaged 17.5 yards per catch.

Ruggs, called by some the fastest wideout in major college football in 2019, would be a terrific complement to second-year receiver Deebo Samuel, says NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks.

“When I look at this (49ers) offense, the one thing they’re missing is a vertical-stretch playmaker,” Brooks said recently. “Henry Ruggs is that and then some.”

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