Saturday, June 25, 2022

49ers’ 2020 Re-Draft has a team adding CB and Trench assist

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Cornerback and offensive guard were very important to the San Francisco 49ers during the 2022 free agency and NFL draft period.

But what if the ‘Niners took over those needs two years ago?

Pro Football Focus played the “what if” game and channeled his inner general manager by revisiting the 2020 NFL draft on Wednesday, June 22. 14 and Brandon Aiyuk in 25th place.

Who are the substitutes for both in this draft rewind? Ironically, the two new picks have this connection: One comes from the Kansas City Chiefs, the team that lost its top shutdown cornerback Charvarius Ward to the 49ers this offseason. The other is a versatile offensive option now preparing for former 49ers offensive coordinator Mike McDaniel in Miami. Here’s who PFF went with.

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And the 14th overall pick in the 2020 draft isn’t South Carolina defenseman Kinlaw.

Instead, the 49ers choose: L’Jarius Sneed, cornerback, Louisiana Tech.

Yes, the cornerback, who was drafted 138th overall in the fourth round of the draft, and the quick cornerer, once predicted by nfl.com’s Lance Zierlein as “an average backup or special teamer,” are shooting into the top 15. Why? Linsey and PFF higher on Sneed? Linsey wrote this statement:

The downside with Sneed was that not much was expected of the Conference USA bulldog. Zierlein had him as a fifth rounder. Bleacher Report gave him a pre-draft grade of 62. Plus Kinlaw’s selection was to fill the spot caused by DeForest Buckner’s 49ers trade. However, Sneed has since blossomed into a sleeper for KC in that draft class.

The jury is out on Kinlaw after devastating knee injuries, including his cruciate ligament rupture last season that limited him to four starts. And had the Niners and general manager John Lynch spotted Sneed early, there would have been no need to sign Ward.

Kinlaw has been moving quicker and looking leaner since his surgery, and Ward has been impressing the 49er coaches during minicamp.

The 49ers don’t take Aiyuk. But that’s not because they’re passing on the Arizona State wide receiver, it’s because he’s a pick early in the re-draft to the New Orleans Saints.

So at No. 25, they’re picking Louisiana’s Robert Hunt — who once blocked for 2021 49ers lead rusher Elijah Mitchell. Here’s why Linsey picks the ‘Niners 39th overall:

“The right guard spot was a question mark for San Francisco entering the 2020 season and that remains the case two years later,” Linsey said. “Hunt started out with the right tackle as a rookie before stepping inside to right guard in 2021. He was one of the more stable characters on the Dolphins’ offensive line – he received PFF ratings above 65.0 in both years – and that positional flexibility would be intriguing in the 49ers.”

Who knows, the move to the 6-foot-6, 327-pound Hunt could potentially have provided the 49ers with their eventual replacement for Laken Tomlinson…or at least made a towering and powerful future guard combination with Aaron Banks. Maybe Kyle Shanahan would have had a different red zone option because of that game, too:

But Aiyuk has since established himself as a popular 49er — and PFF even named him a third-year breakout candidate for 2022.

Overall, these would be considered an enormous choice to meet your needs. But the 49ers seem happy with Aiyuk’s development and Kinlaw’s return.

Who knows, the move to the 6-foot-6, 327-pound Hunt could potentially have provided the 49ers with their eventual replacement for Laken Tomlinson…or at least made a towering and powerful future guard combination with Aaron Banks. Maybe Kyle Shanahan would have had a different red zone option because of that game, too:

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