The 49ers have the 13th pick in the first round of the NFL draft, and the most popular opinion has the team selecting a wide receiver out of a deep and talented class of athletes at that position.
At No. 13, the 49ers could land one of the top-ranked wideouts, such as Jerry Jeudy or Henry Ruggs of Alabama or CeeDee Lamb of Oklahoma.
But San Francisco has other needs, as well, including cornerback, the offensive line (especially if Joe Staley retires) and safety. So what if the Niners decide to pass on a wide receiver at No. 13, or their other first-round pick at No. 31?
Surely, the 49ers need wide receiver help, so it seems more than likely general manager John Lynch will go for a pass catcher in the first round.
But there’s a contrary projection that says the 49ers could fortify the roster at other positions in the first round, yet still get a playmaking wideout later.
ESPN analyst Matt Bowen goes along with that thinking, writing recently that the 49ers could wait and select Michael Pittman Jr. of USC in the second or third round. Of course, that can only happen if Lynch makes a few moves (such as trading the 31st overall choice) to actually get a second- or third-round pick. Right now, the 49ers have two firsts, but don’t pick again until the fifth round. The draft begins April 23.
Bowen believes Pittman – whose father had a good NFL career as a running back – will be an excellent pro wideout. He’s a 6-foot-4, 223-pounder, a physical receiver who can win solo matchups with cornerbacks, writes David Bonilla of 49ers webzone.
Wrote Bowen: “In Kyle Shanahan’s scheme, Pittman could produce quickly for an offense that wants the ball thrown between the numbers with Jimmy Garoppolo. Think of the in-cuts with play-action and deep curls off max protection, along with run-pass options and leveled reads for Garoppolo. That’s where Pittman can use his frame to body up defensive backs and produce after the catch. He’s an ascending prospect with the physical traits to fit in Shanahan’s heavily schemed passing game.”
In 2019, physical rookie wideout Deebo Samuel excelled in Shanahan’s scheme. Pittman could be similar. Like Samuel, Pittman also is considered a strong run blocker on the outside.
Pittman played four seasons at USC, catching 171 passes. It wasn’t until his senior season, however, that he really showed his talent. In 2019, Pittman caught 101 passes for 1,275 yards and 11 touchdowns.