NFL Draft

Why 49ers drafted ‘Adonis'-like Mustapha with fourth-round pick

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If there's one trait we know the 49ers love in their players, it's versatility.

That's exactly what rookie safety Malik Mustapha provides after San Francisco selected him with the No. 124 pick in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

In speaking to reporters after the draft's conclusion on Sunday, 49ers general manager John Lynch discussed what drew San Francisco to Mustapha in the fourth round.

"Starting with [S] Malik [Mustapha] today, just love the way he plays the game, plays our style," Lynch said. "We talk a lot about running to the football and getting there with bad intentions and Malik kind of embodies that. One of our favorite interviews, one of my favorite interviews at the Combine. He really handles himself well, but on the field plays the right way."

“I'm a downhill, speed, tenacity, ballplayer that plays with a lot of fire," Mustapha told reporters. "I'm able to line up pretty much everywhere. Just watching the film, I'm able to impact the game on all levels of the football. I'm pretty sure the 49ers have a plan for me. I really feel comfortable in a lot of spots, being able to show that versatility during my time at Wake Forest.”

Mustapha played a hybrid safety role at Wake Forest, lining up as a traditional safety on base downs while moving to a single-high formation, the slot or the edge on third downs. His versatility and intelligence on the field, plus his impressive physique stood out the most to Lynch and the 49ers.

“He called that position the 'panther' position at Wake," Lynch said of Mustapha. "And I mean, one thing with him, it was clear right away, all his testing indicated it, but when you talked with the young man, he understands football at a high level. He's built like an Adonis and he just plays football the right way in my mind and in our mind. And really cool to make him part of our team. He was a team captain at Wake Forest and we liked everything he brought to the table.”

Mustapha met with San Francisco just once during the draft process, at the NFL Scouting Combine. He met with Lynch and the 49ers brass as well as former star running back Frank Gore, who he admittedly was "starstruck" meeting.

Entering his rookie 2024 season, Mustapha likely will see plenty of action on special teams while providing the 49ers with depth behind presumed starters Talanoa Hufanga and Ji'Ayir Brown at either of the safety positions.

Regardless of what his role is upon arrival, the 49ers expect Mustapha to play with the same level of intensity and physicality that caught their eye in the draft.

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