The San Francisco 49ers have their franchise quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, and it cost them a pretty penny to lock him up. Garoppolo became the NFL’s highest-paid quarterback, landing a five-year, $137.5 million deal. With the quarterback secure, the front office needs the right pieces at other key positions. While there are multiple positions of need, the 49ers may add a new weapon in the passing game for their young signal-caller, and the NFL Draft could be the avenue.
Free agency will have its fair share of options for John Lynch and Company to consider, but the 49ers, who own nine picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and four in the first three rounds, may be better off emphasizing the draft.
There’s no question that a young wideout who can grow with Garoppolo and the rest of the offense would be ideal. Let’s take a look at a few potential options for San Francisco in the upcoming draft.
Auden Tate, Florida State
The 49ers’ top three wide receivers (Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin and Trent Taylor) combined to score four touchdowns last season. It goes without saying that this team needs players who can find the end zone, and Tate is exactly that type of player. At 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds, Tate has the size to become a very good red-zone target for Garoppolo.
While he is raw, the former Seminole wideout caught 40 passes for 548 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. He has tremendous upside and could become a very impressive NFL wide receiver. He is unlikely to burst onto the scene and dominate as a rookie, but it’s hard not to get excited about him as a prospect.
Christian Kirk, Texas A&M
At 5-foot-11, Kirk isn’t the same type of receiver as Tate, but it didn’t stop him from scoring plenty of touchdowns throughout his collegiate career. Over his three seasons, Kirk tallied 229 receptions for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns. While his receptions and yards were slightly down in 2017, he increased his touchdowns, something he did each season at A&M.
I think Kirk will make an impact in Year 1 and likely won’t cost a very high draft pick. He’s going to get better as time goes on, and by Year 2 I think he’ll be a fringe-level star. Year 3 might drop the “fringe.”
Simmie Cobbs Jr., Indiana
Cobbs has exceptional size and can be a very potent red-zone weapon for Garoppolo and the 49ers. Cobbs tallied 72 receptions for 841 yards and eight touchdowns, while also torching the Ohio State Buckeyes for 11 receptions, 149 yards and a score last season. He’s 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds — there’s an argument to be made that he could be the biggest steal of the draft at wide receiver.
Cobbs missed the 2016 season with an ankle injury, but in 2015 as a sophomore, he topped 1,000 receiving yards while averaging 17.3 yards per reception. He can stretch the field and find the end zone, both appealing traits for the 49ers’ offense.