NFL Draft

Lynch, Shanahan explain why 49ers picked Pearsall at No. 31

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SANTA CLARA -- The 49ers entered the 2024 NFL Draft with two top wide receivers in Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, but they needed more depth and talent at the position.

General manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan believe Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, whom they picked No. 31 overall Thursday night, bridges the gap.

"We know we do well when we have consensus in our group," Lynch said. ".:. We really had that with Ricky. He's a guy who throughout the process we liked early, and it kept getting stronger."

Pearsall is versatile, with experience at all three receiver positions, which makes him even more valuable to San Francisco, and he's also capable in the return game. He showed toughness in his three years at Arizona State, where he was Aiyuk's teammate for one year, and his final two seasons in the SEC.

"There's not one play where you see him turn something down," Shanahan said. "He's going to go over the middle and do anything he can to catch that ball and not worry about anything else. When he's on the sidelines, he's not taking the easy way out. He makes guys tackle him, and he’s not looking for a place to fall, and when he doesn’t have the ball, he plays just as hard."

At 6-foot-1 and 189 pounds, Pearsall has 4.41-second 40-yard dash speed to go with that toughness. He has enough acceleration to create separation and the physicality to keep up with his position mates, Aiyuk and Samuel.

"He's got the 40 to still get on top of people on the outside," Shanahan said. "Just got to have a threat of that to scare guys on a go-route. If you can do that, you can separate on the other routes. He can get in and out of his breaks well. He’s not huge, but he’s still got a good body to where he can handle it on any side or length of a corner."

Pearsall caught 65 of his 87 targets for 963 yards and four touchdowns in his final season at Florida while lining up all over the field. He also registered 21 carries for 253 yards and five TDs over his college career.

Pearsall believes he has what it takes to carve out a role on the 49ers' offense.

"Just being a receiver, you got to be really good at getting open and catching the ball," he said. "Those are the two most important things. I think I do a very good job, and I'm elite at both of those things.

"First and foremost, the things that separate me [are] my competitive spirit and how I compete on a day-in and day-out basis, and how detailed I am as a receiver when it comes to being disciplined in my routes. Even off the field and being disciplined in my daily habits."

Perhaps the 49ers aspect that Pearsall most looks forward to is catching passes from quarterback Brock Purdy, whom he remembers from growing up in Chandler, Ariz. Purdy is from nearby Gilbert and played at Perry High School, against Pearsall and Corona Del Sol.

"I'll be the first to admit it," Pearsall said. "We played each other, and I think he put 70 on my team. He's a hell of a player. I remember him for sure because he was in the end zone a lot and threw a lot of touchdowns. I'm excited to play with him this time."

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