• Nicholas McGee

Senior Bowl standouts the 49ers should consider

Image Credit: USA Today Sports

Kyle Shanahan was unable to score another win over former employer Jon Gruden as his South team fell in defeat in an entertaining Senior Bowl game on Saturday.

However, in a game designed for NFL teams to get an up close and personal look at some of the best seniors in the class, the result was immaterial and Shanahan and his staff should have taken plenty from getting the opportunity to work with plenty of players who could be on their board come April.

As attention turns to an important free agency period and then the Scouting Combine, let's take a look at some of the standouts from the week in Mobile who should be firmly in the thoughts of Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and the Niners' front office staff.

Montez Sweat

He wasn't exactly dominant in the game after a strong week of practice, and had some struggles when matched up with Dalton Risner, which was also the case when the Mississippi State edge rusher took on the Kansas State tackle in 2018, but Sweat can still reflect on a positive experience.

His length and the power in his hands came to the forefront in both practice and the game, in which he made multiple plays against the run, though I'm still yet to be convinced about his ability to bend round the edge.

Yet Sweat's power and explosiveness in his hands is a trait the 49ers do not have in their current crop of edge rushers and, while it is rich to think of him as a top-10 pick, he should definitely be on San Francisco's radar in round two if the Niners go in a different direction in round one or if they trade back in the first round.

Dalton Risner & Chris Lindstrom

Speaking of trade-back options, I'd previously mentioned the versatile Risner as a possible target should the Niners move down in the first round, and he rounded off an excellent week in style by keeping Sweat quiet from his right tackle position.

Expected by many to kick inside at the next level, his capability to not only operate but excel at tackle and on the interior would be extremely valuable to a Niners team that has a need at guard and will have one at tackle when Joe Staley eventually calls it a career.

Another option to immediately address the need at guard, assuming Mike Person leaves in free agency and gives the 49ers a vacancy at the position, is Boston College's Chris Lindstrom. He and Risner formed an imposing tandem on the right side of the North offensive line all week and his ability to get to the second level, as showcased in the below clip from Saturday's game, should intrigue a Niners team that needs athletic offensive linemen for their zone-blocking scheme to run to work to its full potential.

Iman Marshall

It was tough for Marshall to impress this year trapped on a dreadful USC team, but he took full advantage of his opportunity in Mobile and was another who carried impressive form from practice into the game.

At 6'0" and 205 pounds, Marshall has the size the 49ers look for at the cornerback position, though he perhaps lacks the desired length for San Francisco's system, and he emerged with plenty of credit from tussles with some talented South receivers.

Producing perfect coverage against the likes of Deebo Samuel, as he did in the clip below, will have done his standing among scouts the power of good, and a Niners team that could use help in the secondary should be among the teams to have taken note.

Terrill Hanks

Despite a late-season surge from Elijah Lee, the 49ers definitely need to add more depth at linebacker so as to give them competition for the spot next to Fred Warner.

And Terrill Hanks should certainly be a name in their thoughts after a standout display for Shanahan's South team in which he demonstrated quickness moving downhill and laterally, range, an aptitude for navigating traffic and force as a tackler.

With 14 pass deflections and eight interceptions in four college seasons at New Mexico State, Hanks - like Warner - is a linebacker who can make plays in coverage and appears to have the potential to form a dynamic duo with the 2018 third-round pick.

Deebo Samuel & Gary Jennings

It is tough to pick any player who had a better week in Mobile than South Carolina wide receiver Samuel. The failings of his various quarterbacks limited his impact during the game, but Samuel still flashed the ability to create separation with his route-running that has been evident all week and it would be a huge surprise if Shanahan has not developed some affection for the former Gamecock, who could form an exciting receiving duo with last year’s second-round pick Dante Pettis.

Just as intriguing is West Virginia's Gary Jennings, whose blend of size and speed has seen impress all week. He capped off his Senior Bowl experience by elevating for a circus catch on a Tyree Jackson scramble play and then showing strong strong hands to haul in a dart from the same quarterback for a touchdown.

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