NFL Draft

One Pearsall trait that should serve him well as 49ers rookie

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SANTA CLARA -- New 49ers wide receiver Ricky Pearsall possesses all of the on-field measurables, but his most important trait might be his maturity.

The versatile pass catcher is physically gifted with great hands, and he showed an ability to run routes accurately enough to impress 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan. His professionalism and work ethic likely tipped the scales even further in his favor Thursday night, when San Francisco made him the No. 31 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

"That just comes from maturing over the years," Pearsall said Friday in his introductory press conference at Levi's Stadium. "I feel like the transition from Arizona State to Florida [in 2022] really helped me grow as a man. That was something that came to fruition with me."

The 49ers' roster features several talented receivers who've publicly gone through the growing pains of becoming a professional. From Brandon Aiyuk’s tough-love situation with Shanahan to ex-South Carolina coach Will Muschamp's warning about Deebo Samuel’s tendency to gain weight during the offseason, the learning curve has been palpable.

"Just treating yourself like a pro, operating like a pro, that's something that a lot of my coaches taught me throughout my college career," Pearsall told NBC Sports Bay Area. “Going through your days and being disciplined with it. A set system that you like to go through each day.

"For me, I created that myself, and it's going to be different for different players, from nutrition, taking care of your body maintenance-wise, taking care of football stuff, watching film, going out and having good practice habits."

Receivers have struggled with the rookie-year transition in San Francisco. The 49ers have yet to see production from Danny Gray, a 2022 third-round pick who had only one catch for 10 yards during his first season. Ronnie Bell, a 2023 seventh-round pick, caught just six of his 13 targets for 68 yards in the regular season and was inactive throughout the playoffs after struggling as a return man.

The 49ers hope to not have such issues with their 2024 first-round pick. Pearsall is known for his strong work ethic, though, and credits his many college coaches and his father for instilling it in him.

"Just putting in the work each and every day," Pearsall said. "Just the dedication to it, staying true to it, staying true to the game. Going over film and doing everything I need to do to be a great wideout and improve my route running."

Pearsall also has the advantage of having played quarterback before becoming a full-time receiver in high school. That means he understands what a QB such as Brock Purdy needs from his pass catchers on the field.

"I think the game looks a little bit different when you're seeing it through a quarterback's lens," Pearsall said. "Finding that true understanding of the game, knowing the spots you have to be at in certain concepts. I think it really helped me from that standpoint.

"As a receiver, you got to be the quarterback's best friend, be with him all the time, watching film with him, and be on the same page and communicating."

Learning Shanahan's complex playbook is a daunting adventure for some rookie receivers. But for the newest member of the 49ers' receiving corps, it's like being a kid on Christmas morning.

"This is the fun part, playing football," Pearsall said.

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