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Winners and Losers after the 49ers draft



Another NFL Draft has come and gone, so let's see who benefitted and who was hurt by this year's incoming class of rookies.


Winners

Brock Purdy: The 49ers made eight picks in the draft and five of them came on offense. After a year of every non-Aiyuk receiver struggling to separate from man coverage, John Lynch drafted two players in Ricky Pearsall and Jacob Cowing that specialize in that area.


After a year of every non-Trent Williams offensive lineman struggling in must-pass situations, the 49ers drafted a lineman that can play every position and didn't give up a single sack in more than 700 snaps in 2023.


Throw in an athletic freak in Isaac Guerendo and Brock Purdy should be a very happy man right now.


Brandon Staley and Nick Sorensen: Staley likes players with versatility, and he got two in Renardo Green and Malik Mustapha. Green can play both outside and in the slot, while Mustapha already has experience as a hybrid safety in college. With Dre Greenlaw recovering from his Achilles injury in the Super Bowl, it will be interesting to see if the 49ers deploy Mustapha around the line of scrimmage early in the year.


Brian Schneider: We know how much the 49ers special teams units have struggled at times, and Schneider's group looks to have received some reinforcements.


Malik Mustapha covered kicks at Wake Forest and has already openly spoken about relishing being on coverage units - in addition to being a tackling machine. Ricky Pearsall and Jacob Cowing have both returned punts in college and both run in the 4.3-4.41 range. They should be able to contribute offensively and defensively on special teams.


Between Pearsall, Cowing, and Guerendo, Schneider has incredible speed at kick returner this year. As tempting as it would be to use Deebo of CMC back there, there's an argument to be made for each of those three rookies as well.


Perhaps the 49ers can finally get a return touchdown of some kind for the first time since 2018.


Losers

Elijah Mitchell: The 49ers just drafted his replacement. Isaac Guerendo had a better 40 yard dash, vertical leap, broad jump, and 20-yard shuttle than Mitchell, despite being two inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. Any injury of any kind in camp or the preseason could spell the end of Mitchell's 49ers career. Oh by the way, Lynch also brought in a running back that finished 8th in the Heisman Trophy voting in 2023 as an undrafted free agent.


Spencer Burford: Burford has already lost his starting job to Jon Feliciano, but now he's also going to have to hold off Dominick Puni in training camp. Puni hasn't given up a sack in 25 straight starts, and he's got a similar athletic profile despite being taller and heavier. Even as a starter Buford split time, and now it looks like he could be transitioning to a full time role on the bench.


Ambry Thomas, Darrell Luter Jr., and Samuel Womack: As if their roster spots weren't already in jeopardy after three free agent additions at their position, Thomas, Luter, and Womack now have to compete with second round pick Renardo Green. Thomas and Womack have done virtually nothing despite multiple seasons with the team, so it's hard to imagine the 49ers having more patience with them. Luter probably has slightly more slack because he was a rookie last year, but the fact that the 49ers invested such a premium pick at corner speaks volumes.




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