NFL Draft

What grade NFL draft experts gave 49ers for Pearsall pick

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The 49ers entered the 2024 NFL Draft with obvious needs along the offensive line and in the secondary, but with the No. 31 overall pick, they selected Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall.

Pearsall also fills an area of need now and in the future with uncertainty surrounding the futures of wide receivers Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel.

The 6-foot-1, 191-pound Pearsall played three seasons at Arizona State before finishing his collegiate career with two seasons at Florida.

During his five college seasons, the 23-year-old Pearsall finished with 159 receptions for 2,420 yards and 14 touchdowns. He also carried the ball 21 times for 253 yards and five rushing touchdowns.

General manager John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan also believe Pearsall can help in the return game.

While it will take a few years to truly know if Pearsall was a good draft pick, here's how national NFL writers graded the selection: -- Pick Grade: Average

"The 49ers take Pearsall, a slot receiver from Florida who excelled during the pre-draft process," PFF wrote. "Pearsall was productive and reliable, and his measurables are up to NFL standards. He only dropped five passes since the beginning of 2020, which is tied for the fewest among Power Five receivers with at least 200 targets in that span. This pick could also add intrigue to trade rumors swirling around Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel."

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports -- Pick Grade: C-minus

"This is a strange pick," Prisco wrote. "Do they need one? If so, why Pearsall? Unless they are trading Brandon Aiyuk, why take this guy? It's a luxury pick."

Nick Baumgardner and Scott Dochterman, The Athletic -- Pick Grade: B-minus

"This feels like either a reach or an insurance policy, in case Brandon Aiyuk ends up getting dealt<" Baumgardner and Dochterman wrote. "Pearsall will make some tough catches and could wind up running plenty of interior routes alongside tight end George Kittle."

Brent Sobleski, Bleacher Report -- Pick Grade: C

"It's difficult to argue with the San Francisco 49ers–specifically head coach Kyle Shanahan–when it comes to offensive weapons," Sobeleski wrote. "Pearsall is a different type of wide receiver compared to those already on San Francisco's roster. He'll allow the 49ers to push the ball downfield more, while the team's current top targets tend to spread the field horizontally.

"This selection raises more questions about Brandon Aiyuk's future in San Francisco as he heads into the final year of his rookie contract. Dianni Russini of The Athletic reported Thursday that the Niners had conversations with teams leading up to the draft about trading either Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel, so they seem to be planning ahead with this selection of Pearsall."

Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz, USA Today Sports -- Pick Grade: C

"Kudos if you hit on this in your mock draft, as Pearsall was perhaps the most off-the-radar name to make it into the first round," Middlehurst-Schwartz wrote. "The 6-1, 189-pounder sizes up as a fine fit for Kyle Shanahan's offense and someone who should quickly endear himself to Brock Purdy with his ability to separate. Still, catches will be hard to come by in an attack that already features Christian McCaffrey, Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and George Kittle, among others. And while San Francisco is undeniably taking the long view given Aiyuk's discontent as he enters the final year of his contract, the value doesn't quite add up for a team that is so close to putting itself over the top. Plus, with the depth of this receiver class and several other promising pass catchers on the board, San Francisco might have jumped the gun."

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