NFL Draft

49ers draft pass rusher, not O-lineman, at No. 31 in Kiper's latest mock

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The 49ers have a few pressing needs this NFL offseason, and a pass rusher opposite defensive end Nick Bosa is one of them.

San Francisco could look to fortify the trenches on the offensive and defensive lines, and after mocking an offensive tackle to the 49ers at pick No. 31 in the 2024 NFL Draft last month, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. changed his tune in his latest mock draft.

Kiper has the 49ers adding firepower to the defensive line.

31. San Francisco 49ers
Chop Robinson, OLB, Penn State

"It has to be offensive line or edge rusher for the 49ers, right? They need to find young talent so they can use their cap space on their veteran stars," Kiper wrote. "I went offensive tackle in my debut mock, but let's switch to the defense here.

"San Francisco could take the comp pick for defensive end Chase Young and let him walk in free agency, opening up a spot on the other side of Nick Bosa. That's where I'd slot in Robinson, whose sack numbers were a little disappointing the past two seasons (9.5 total, four in 2023) but who has the potential to be a star.

"At 6-3, 250 pounds, he is extremely explosive. Give him time with 49ers D-line coach Kris Kocurek and he could be a star. The reason Robinson might be a late Round 1 pick is because of that questionable production, but scouts and execs love his tool set."

In 30 combined games across three seasons at the University of Maryland and Penn State, Robinson recorded 11.5 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, three passes defensed and three forced fumbles.

The 49ers acquired defensive end Chase Young in a midseason trade with the Washington Commanders to pair with Bosa, but it appears increasingly likely they will not be able to afford the unrestricted free agent this offseason, which likely will result in San Francisco drafting a possible replacement.

And Robinson could be that player.

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