2024 NFL Draft

Five 49ers wide receiver fits in first two rounds of NFL draft

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The 49ers appear to have every intent to give Brandon Aiyuk a contract extension, but even with that, they still should consider selecting a wide receiver early in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The 2024 class is very talented at the position, and San Francisco's offense would greatly benefit with another weapon for Brock Purdy.

Aiyuk was the 49ers’ top receiving target in 2023, catching a team-high 75 of his 105 targets for a career-high 1,342 yards and seven touchdowns. Deebo Samuel had the second-highest total with 60 receptions for 892 yards and seven TDs.

The 49ers pull receiving production from other positions, such as tight end George Kittle and running back Christian McCaffrey, but they have seen less from their remaining receivers.

Jauan Jennings is a standout blocker and situational receiver who had 19 receptions for 265 yards and one TD during the regular season. The physical receiver, who was on his way to a Super Bowl MVP performance before the 49ers lost to the Kansas City Chiefs in overtime, has yet to sign his second-round restricted free-agent tender, but he’s expected to return.

The remaining receivers on the 49ers’ roster include Chris Conley (three catches for 69 yards), Ronnie Bell (six catches for 68 yards and three TDs), Tay Martin, Danny Gray and Trent Taylor, who just returned to the team on a one-year contract Tuesday.

Few draft analysts predict that 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan could select a wide receiver with pick No. 31 or No. 63, but here are five receiving prospects who could be the best fits.

Adonai Mitchell

School: Texas
Height: 6-foot-2 1/4
Weight: 205 pounds

After spending two years at Georgia, Mitchell made a huge jump in production at Texas last season, catching 55 of his 86 targets for 845 yards and 11 TDs. As a Bulldog, Mitchell recorded 39 catches on 69 targets for 562 yards and seven TDs in 21 games.

Mitchell has 4.34-second 40-yard-dash speed and fluid route-running ability for his size, but he has shown inconsistent effort on the field.

Mitchell recorded just 3.2 yards after catch, per PFF.com, ranking him 448th of receivers with at least 50 targets. That implies the rookie would have some work to do before being considered part of the 49ers’ YAC Bros if he ended up in the Bay.

Mitchell has a late first-round grade from most draft experts, which perfectly lines up for the 49ers’ Day 1 pick.

Troy Franklin

School: Oregon
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 176 pounds

Franklin doesn’t have Mitchell’s size, but he still boasts impressive production, with 81 receptions on 114 targets for 1,383 yards (17.1 per catch) and 14 TDs in his third season at Oregon. Franklin’s lack of strength is the most common critique of his game, but he managed 6.6 yards after catch and seven contested receptions last year.

Franklin, who ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, shows explosive game speed, with his 14 deep catches tying him for eighth place among all college receivers with 50 targets or more. He also forced 14 missed tackles, exemplifying elusiveness to go with that speed.

Franklin, a Bay native from East Palo Alto, is projected as a late first-round selection, so he still could be on the board when the 49ers are on the Day 1 clock.

Xavier Legette

School: South Carolina
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 221 pounds

The 49ers have had good experience with picking a South Carolina receiver in Samuel, and Legette could be another with size and production that turns heads. He caught 71 of his 97 targets for 1,255 yards (17.7 per catch) and seven TDs last season.

Legette also isn’t afraid to run across the middle, as 141 of his 415 pass snaps originated from the slot. He has speed, too, running a 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine, as well as size and strength, as evidenced by his 10 contested catches, 6.4 yards after the catch and nine forced missed tackles.

It was a breakout 2023 season for Legette, who had more than 200 receiving yards for the first time since he arrived at South Carolina in 2019. He is PFF.com's 12th-ranked receiver and No. 54 overall prospect, but he also has been projected as a first-round pick in some mock drafts.

Malachi Corley

School: Western Kentucky
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 215 pounds

Of all the receiver prospects in this year’s draft class, no one has received more comparisons to Samuel than Corley, since he has similar physical attributes and a bruising style of play.

Corley caught 79 of his 115 targets for 985 yards (12.5 per catch) and 11 TDs in 2023 for the Hilltoppers, but he was even better statistically the prior year, with 101 catches for 1,295 yards and 11 scores.

Corley is difficult to bring down, as shown by his 15 missed tackles and 8.6 yards after catch while predominantly lining up on the inside. Of his 79 catches, 61 came from the slot. 

Corley is PFF.com's 13th-ranked receiver and 62nd overall prospect, which could line up with the 49ers’ second-round pick.

Luke McCaffrey

School: Rice
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 198 pounds

Christian McCaffrey’s younger brother might be one of the most intriguing receiver prospects in the draft. The former quarterback spent the past two seasons at Rice and flew under the radar before the combine.

McCaffrey caught 71 of his 120 targets for 992 yards (14.0 per catch) and 13 TDs last season while predominantly lining up in the slot. Like his older brother, he doesn’t shy away from contact, with his 17 contested catches the second most of all receivers with at least 50 targets.

McCaffrey is PFF’s 27th-ranked receiver and No. 141 overall. His third-round projection means he could leap up to the 49ers late in the second.

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