NFL Draft

NFL scout believes 49ers could target Georgia receiver at No. 31

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SANTA CLARA — The 49ers do not have much depth at wide receiver. And that’s even before anybody knows what’s going to happen with Brandon Aiyuk.

Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel produced 1,000-yard seasons from scrimmage during the 2023 regular season. After those two, the 49ers got a combined 28 catches for 302 yards from Jauan Jennings, Ronnie Bell and Chris Conley.

Aiyuk’s status with the team remains uncertain entering the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, as he seeks a multi-year contract extension that could pay him among the top wide receivers in the NFL.

The second-team All-Pro is scheduled to make $14.1 million during the upcoming season on the fifth-year option. The sides have been talking this offseason about a lucrative multi-year extension.

Regardless, the 49ers figure to be in the receiver market over the next three days.

“It all depends on what’s going to happen with Brandon and how the 49ers end up addressing that situation,” a longtime NFL scout told NBC Sports Bay Area on Thursday. “But there is a lot of depth in the receiver crop in this draft. You can get a good receiver in the third, fourth and fifth round who can come in and play.”

The NFL source said he believes there is a reasonable chance the 49ers will select a wide receiver if San Francisco holds onto its scheduled first-round selection at No. 31 overall.

And the player he suggested might come as a surprise: Ladd McConkey of Georgia.

McConkey checks in at just under 6-foot, 186 pounds. He ran a time of 4.39 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. McConkey would be counted upon to provide quarterback Brock Purdy and coach Kyle Shanahan with a reliable option in the passing game as a slot receiver.

“He fits perfectly with Shanahan,” the scout said. “He’s not an outside guy. He’s an inside guy, but that’s fine. The base offense around the NFL is a three-receiver set, so your third guy is playing 75 percent of the snaps. He’ll know the offense inside and out and will always be on the same page as the quarterback. Shanahan loves what he brings to the table.”

McConkey’s best college season came when he was a junior, as he caught 58 passes for 762 yards and seven touchdowns. He also took a pitch after lining up the slot and turned it into a 70-yard touchdown run against Mississippi State.

The scout believes McConkey will be drafted late in the first round or early in the second round. He said he believes McConkey and Texas speedster Xavier Worthy will be drafted within a few picks of each other. He said he has McConkey rated higher on his draft board.

Worthy ran 4.21 at the combine, the fastest 40 time ever recorded in Indianapolis.

“You can’t teach speed,” the scout said of Worthy, “and he can change the game on any play.”

The 49ers selected nine wide receivers in the first seven drafts under general manager John Lynch and Shanahan.

The 49ers’ best results have come from Samuel and Aiyuk. Samuel was chosen in the second round of the 2019 draft at No. 36 overall. The 49ers traded up six spots in the 2020 draft to select Aiyuk at No. 25. The 49ers have not had as much success with their picks after the second round.

Jennings has been the most productive of the other receivers they have chosen. He was a seventh-round draft pick in 2020. The 49ers released Jennings before the start of his rookie season but re-signed him to the practice squad. After winning a roster spot the following season, he has been the team’s No. 3 receiver. Jennings has 78 catches for 963 yards and seven touchdowns in 45 regular-season games.

Jennings remains with the 49ers for at least another season, as the deadline has passed in which another team could sign him as a restricted free agent.

Bell, Conley, Danny Gray, Trent Taylor and Tay Martin are the only other receivers on San Francisco's roster. The 49ers can be expected to address their depth issues, and nobody is ruling out the possibility they could add a receiver with their first selection on Thursday evening.

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