Ricky Pearsall

Why NFL exec sees shades of Nacua in 49ers rookie Pearsall

NBC Universal, Inc.

Ricky Pearsall hasn't played a snap for the 49ers yet, but that didn't stop an NFL executive from comparing San Francisco's 2024 first-round draft pick to Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua -- who set a league record with 1,486 receiving yards in his rookie campaign last season.

ESPN's Jeremy Fowler spoke to an AFC executive who believes the 49ers' drafted Pearsall No. 31 overall in an attempt to land a player who can fill a similar role as Nacua has for the Rams.

"They wanted a route runner like the Rams have in Puka [Nacua]," the executive told Fowler. "Probably see him in that same role."

That isn't the only AFC executive to sing Pearsall's praises, as Baltimore Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta recently revealed he hoped to be able to draft him before San Francisco selected him at No. 31.

"It was a great pick. I give those guys a lot of credit," DeCosta said (h/t Niners Nation). "I thought [Pearsall] was a guy that we might get that was a sleeper for us at some point. He really wasn't a hot, hot commodity name. But that was another guy when you watched his game, he's a super impressive player on tape."

That's lofty praise for Pearsall, with Nacua coming off a historic rookie season that saw him finish second in the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud.

Nacua posted 105 receptions, 1,486 yards and six touchdowns for the Los Angeles in 2023, numbers that would be difficult for Pearsall to replicate given where he stands in San Francisco's offensive pecking order behind star players like Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle.

While the AFC executives were high on Pearsall, an NFC personnel evaluator told Fowler he believes the Florida product profiles as more of a secondary threat, stating he felt San Francisco reached a bit by selecting him at the end of the first round.

"He can be a nice No. 2 or No. 3 receiver, a good player, but that was a bit of a reach, in my opinion," the NFC personnel evaluator told Fowler.

Pearsall flashed big-play ability during his time at Arizona State and Florida, posting an impressive 15.2 yards per reception across 159 career catches in college.

The 23-year-old will have his work cut out for him as he attempts to carve out a substantial role in a star-studded 49ers' offense, while remaining confident that San Francisco has a vision for his usage after investing significant draft capital in him.

Download and follow the 49ers Talk Podcast

Contact Us