San Francisco 49ers Rookie Forecast

Solid Starter

Dominick Puni, OT, Kansas – Round 3

There were teams around the league that had Puni graded as a mid-rounder, so he wan’t a horrible reach in the third round for the 49ers. San Francisco has excellent talent on their offensive line so Puni will have the advantage of good players around him.

In the short-term, Puni can start out competing at right guard with Jon Feliciano or possibly right tackle Colton McKivitz. However McKivitz was solid last season so Puni is more likely a candidate for guard. Puni will fit well as a guard at the pro level as he has quality size, strength, and is a fighter that competes hard. Next season Puni also offers some depth at tackle if McKivitz or Trent Williams were to go down with an injury. While Puni does not have an elite skill set, he has the talent to turn into a solid starter and could become a quality pro for San Francisco.

2023: Jake Moody, K
2022: Danny Gray, WR
2021: Trey Lance, QB
2020: Jauan Jennings, WR
2019: Deebo Samuel, WR
2018: Fred Warner, LB
2017: Reuben Foster, LB
2016: Joshua Garnett, G
2015: Jaquiski Tartt, S
2014: Marcus Martin, C
2013: Tank Carradine, DE

Most Likely To Bust

Renardo Green, CB, Florida State – Round 2

Around the league, Green was a surprise pick in the second round. There were other teams that had Green graded well into day three with a projection of being a NFL backup. However the 49ers felt differently and took him with the 64th-overall pick. San Francisco could have down a very short trade up in order to land Missouri’s Ennis Rakestraw, a fringe first-round prospect. Instead they ended up taking a flier on Green.

The 49ers were in need of help at cornerback and Green is expected to compete immediately for a starting spot across from Charvarius Ward. Green will have competition from veterans like Isaac Yiadom, Ambry Thomas, and Chase Lucas. That group has a lack of talent that could force San Francisco to play Green before he’s ready. It would not be surprising if Green has some struggles as other teams had him projected as a backup only. Of the 49ers early-round picks, he looks like the one with the biggest bust potential.

2023: None
2022: None
2021: Ambry Thomas, CB
2020: Brandon Aiyuk, WR
2019: Jalen Hurd, WR
2018: Dante Pettis, WR
2017: Solomon Thomas, DE
2016: Rashard Robinson, CB
2015: Eli Harold, OLB
2014: Chris Borland, ILB
2013: Eric Reid, S

Potential Boom Pick

Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida – Round 1

While Pearsall (6-0, 193) may have been a slight reach at the end of the first round, he would not have lasted long had he made it to the second round so the 49ers did not reach terribly in taking him with the 31st overall-pick. It looks like it will be tough for the 49ers to pay a market value contract to both Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel. Thus it would not be surprising if one of those veterans gets traded, most likely Aiyuk, and then San Francisco turns to Pearsall to be the starter with the other veteran. In Kyle Shanahan’s offense, Pearsall has the ability to become a dangerous playmaker.

The trait that stands out the most is Pearsall’s ability to separate from coverage. Pearsall is a superb route-runner who is sudden in and out of breaks with a burst to accelerate after a cut. Cornerbacks struggle to run with him as he is consistent about creating separation. Pearsall is dangerous to get open on the short to intermediate routes running slants, crosses, digs, and out routes to be a reliable chain mover for the quarterback.

On top of getting open, Pearsall runs well after the catch with a second gear to run away from defenders. Pearsall will do some cutting to dodge defenders, but he is inclined to be a North-South runner. Pearsall has enough speed to get vertical and can challenge defenses deep down the field. Pearsall has good hands, tracks the ball well, and has superior body control to make acrobatic catches over defensive backs. Along with being a vertical threat, Pearsall should be a good third-down weapon in the NFL given his ability to get open on short to intermediate routes.

Pearsall is not overly big or fast, but he is just a good football player. Entering the NFL, Pearsall is a polished route runner that could contribute quickly. Pearsall could fit as a X – split end – receiver and also has the ability to be a flanker or slot receiver.

Shanahan is an offensive genius who does a phenomenal job of scheming his receivers open. Pearsall could end up being a boom pick for the 49ers and a very productive receiver for Brock Purdy.

2023: None
2022: Drake Jackson, DE
2021: Aaron Banks, G
2020: Javon Kinlaw, DT
2019: Nick Bosa, DE
2018: Mike McGlinchey, OT
2017: Akhello Witherspoon, CB
2016: DeForest Buckner, DE
2015: Arik Armstead, DE
2014: Carlos Hyde, RB
2013: Marcus Lattimore, RB

Future Depth Player

Jacob Cowing, CB, Arizona – Round 4

The 49ers have highly paid and established veterans starting at wide receiver while also using their first-round pick on Ricky Pearsall. Thus, Cowing probably won’t be competing for a starting spot. While Cowing is a fast and shifty wide out, he is small and is very undersized for the NFL. He could be a nice rotational receiver to stretch defenses vertically and challenge them downfield. Cowing might not become a starter, but he could turn into a functional No. 3 or 4 receiver at the NFL level.

2023: Cameron Latu, TE
2022: Tyrion Davis-Price, RB
2021: Trey Sermon, RB
2020: Colton McKivits, OT
2019: Kaden Smith, TE
2018: Kentavius Street, DE
2017: Joe Williams, RB
2016: Jeff Driskel, QB
2015: Mike Davis, RB
2014: Bruce Ellington, WR
2013: Vance McDonald, TE