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NFL Draft 2021: 49ers could go number of ways with first-round pick


It seems like the 49ers just wrapped up an impressive 2020 NFL Draft, adding defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw, wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings, tight end Charlie Woerner and offensive lineman Colton McKivitz.

Well, that’s because they did. It has only been about nine weeks since the draft, and the 49ers’ rookies haven’t been able to take the field yet with their teams. They’re learning with coaches by Zoom instead due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

While the excitement for the 2020 class is palpable, it’s never too early to look at the 2021 class and prognosticate about who the 49ers might add next April.

The 49ers have a loaded roster that’s ready to win now. Although they don’t have a lot of holes to fill, general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan will be looking to add talent at positions they expect will experience turnover in the near future or have a need to upgrade immediately.

Now, we know it’s way, way, way too early for this and the 49ers’ draft spot won’t even be determined for six months. But, there’s no harm in looking.

Creed Humphrey, OL, Oklahoma

The 49ers kept Joe Staley’s retirement under wraps and were able to swing a trade for Trent Williams to keep their Super Bowl train on time in 2020. San Francisco hopes to re-sign Williams after the season, but the interior offensive line could use an upgrade.

Humphrey is a center by trade, but he also can slide over and play guard, where the 49ers have an immediate need after releasing Mike Person this offseason. The 49ers will head into 2020 with Daniel Brunskill, Ben Garland and Tom Cotton competing to be the starting right guard. While Brunskill played well in a pinch last season, it’s unclear if he’s the long-term answer at right guard.

Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller has the 49ers selecting Humphrey, who elected to return to Oklahoma for his senior season. He’s a high-IQ center who knows how to leverage his body and frame against defenders. He’s a powerful blocker, with good mobility and awareness.

Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

Etienne stunned everyone by electing to return to Clemson for his senior season. Instead of entering a loaded 2020 class, Etienne will be the runaway No. 1 back on the 2021 draft board.

Etienne is a walking home run with incredible breakaway speed and a knack for destroying pursuit angles. He’s a huge weapon in the passing game and would give Shanahan yet another YAC weapon to torment defenses with.

CBS Sports’ Chris Trapasso has the 49ers selecting Etienne late in the first round. While running back isn’t the 49ers’ most pressing need and it’s normally frowned upon to take one in the first round, it’s hard to argue that Etienne wouldn’t be a star in the 49ers’ offense.

Israel Mukuamu, CB, South Carolina

The 49ers will need to do something to address their secondary in the 2021 NFL Draft. They currently have no cornerbacks signed after this season.

So, adding a cornerback who can start and be productive immediately should be at the top of the list.

USA Today’s Ben Easterling has the 49ers selecting South Carolina cornerback Israel Mukuamu at the back end of the first round.

Mukuamu, 6-foot-4, 205 pounds, is an athletic, rangy corner who held his own against NFL-caliber receivers in the SEC. He needs to be more disciplined with his footwork near the line of scrimmage but is a high-upside, press corner who should be able to start on Day 1.


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