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The 2019 draft is flush with wide receivers. They’re coming in all shapes and sizes; whatever your preference you’ll find it this year. From Ewok-sized Marquise Brown to Wookie-sized Hakeem Butler, and everything in between, this year is a smorgasbord of talents and styles and receiver is definitely a need for the 49ers.
Fan favorite Kendrick Bourne lead all wide receivers with 487 yards last year. Some of that has to do with Marquise Goodwin missing substantial time with a multitude of injuries and of course with the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo in Week 3. But those things notwithstanding, the front office needs to find consistent players opposite second-year receiver Dante Pettis.
But with this wealth of talent at their fingertips, should the team pass on a receiver for the tackle of the future? Perennial good guy and future Ring of Honor member Joe Staley is entering the final year of his contract and will turn 35 in August. Staley has said he’s had more fun the last two seasons then any point in his career and found a new best friend in Mike McGlinchey, and Staley’s production hasn’t dropped off; he was Pro Football Focus’ fifth rated tackle last year with an overall grade of 82.2, and he went to his sixth Pro Bowl in 2017.
While the 2019 draft is light on offensive linemen and heavy on quantity but not necessarily quality receivers, should the 49ers look to draft Staley’s replacement while putting off the need at receiver for one more year? I don’t think so. The NFL is a pass-first league and the 49ers are lacking weapons in that war. While Shanahan can scheme open receivers better then just about any coach in the league, you still need players that are going to threaten opposing defenses based just on their physical gifts and skills alone, not just the scheme.
It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Staley sign a modest extension at some point during the season, so he’s not going anywhere. This would give the 49ers at least two years to hammer down a replacement on the offensive line, whether or not that involves moving McGlinchey over and finding a new right tackle.
Overall, I would be surprised if the team doesn’t come out of day two of the draft without a receiver, and then take a flyer on an athletic lineman in a later round to see if they struck gold with a SPARQ score all-star.
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