2024 NFL Draft

Why Kiper Jr. mocked O-lineman to 49ers at pick No. 31

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Many NFL draft pundits have the 49ers using this year's No. 31 overall pick on a offensive lineman, but the choice often varies. 

ESPN senior analyst Mel Kiper’s latest mock draft shows San Francisco selecting Washington offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten, and the longtime draft expert explained the reasons why Thursday. 

"I think [Rosengarten] is very underrated, and he's not getting enough publicity for the year he had," Kiper said via video conference. "I know the projections have him in the second and third round. I’ve had him in the late first all along, and we will see how that plays out, but I like him."

The 6-foot-6, 300-pounder predominantly played right tackle with the Huskies (1,935 snaps), with just three snaps at left tackle and five plays at right guard. Rosengarten allowed five hits, 27 hurries and no sacks in his two seasons at Washington. 

PFF ranks Rosengarten as the 19th-best tackle in the draft, but Kiper believes opinions might be influenced by the draft prospect's holding penalty that negated a Michael Penix Jr. 32-yard pass to Rome Odunze in the national championship game.

"Everyone kind of harps on that," Kiper said. “But overall, he had a really good two years as a right tackle protecting the blind side of Michael Penix Jr."

If the 49ers don't pick Rosengarten, though, Kiper still believes they will take an offensive lineman to secure a potential successor for Trent Williams whenever he retires and add competition for Colton McKivitz this season.

"The other offensive linemen, I have [Arizona's] Jordan Morgan, who I’ve mentioned at that point would be a possibility, [and] Patrick Paul from Houston," Kiper said.

"A guy who there's a lot of mixed opinion on, but he's got a lot of talent, is Kingsley Suamataia from BYU. I have him in the second round, [but] you could put him in the late first, early second, and nobody would really argue. If you want to develop a talented, physically and athletically gifted tackle, it would be Suamataia."

There is some risk in drafting Rosengarten, who spent his entire college career on the right side, if transitioning to left tackle is the end goal. While 49ers offensive line coach Chris Foerster gets the most out of his players, the flip to the opposite side does require an adjustment.

The 49ers' need to protect Brock Purdy's blind side is clear, though, and Kiper sees them addressing it early in the draft. 

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