NFL Draft

How ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. predicts 49ers will use No. 31 pick

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While free agency still is underway, the NFL draft remains the marquee event for professional football's offseason.

For the first time since 2021, the 49ers possess their own first-round pick, currently scheduled to select No. 31 overall in the 2024 NFL Draft.

ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. previously had pegged Penn State's Chop Robinson to San Francisco with its first-round selection, but the standout edge rusher gets picked off the board No. 27 overall by the Arizona Cardinals in the expert's latest mock draft after a strong combine performance.

That left the door open for the 49ers to address their offensive line with the pick instead, with Kiper Jr. mocking Washington tackle Roger Rosengarten to San Francisco at No. 31 overall.

"The 49ers have been able to make several moves in free agency to make tweaks to their roster, acquiring veterans on short-term deals to build out their depth," Kiper Jr. explained in his latest mock draft. "One position they haven't added? Offensive tackle, where soon-to-be-36-year-old Trent Williams is holding down the blindside and 2020 fifth-rounder Colton McKivitz just started every game on the right side. Williams ranked first in the league in pass block win rate among tackles (95.8%). McKivitz? He was 50th out of the 69 who played in at least 10 games. That's not good enough. I'd like to see San Francisco bring in some competition.

"I thought Rosengarten might return to college for another year; he could have been a top-10 pick with some more seasoning. He might be a steal here, though, as the right tackle is aggressive as a run-blocker and solid in pass protection (though he had his worst game of the season in the national championship loss). I really liked his tape when I went back through after the season ended."

At the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, Rosengarten measured in at 6-foot-5, 311 pounds with 33 1/8-inch arms and a 80 1/8-inch wingspan. The 21-year-old started 28 games for the Washington Huskies over the last two seasons, including two College Football Playoff matchups during his 2023 campaign.

The 49ers re-signed Colton McKivitz to a one-year, $7 million contract extension after he served as San Francisco's starting right tackle for the 2023 NFL season. Rosengarten lined up for 989 offensive snaps during the 2023 season, with 984 of them coming at right tackle, per Pro Football Focus.

Selecting a right tackle in the first round would not be new territory for John Lynch and Co., who took Notre Dame standout Mike McGlinchey No. 9 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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