Round 1 (31st Overall): Ross Blacklock, DT, TCU
Assuming the 49ers make the wise decision to add a top receiver at pick 12, general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan will have an interesting dilemma at No. 31.
The team will have two glaring needs to fill and only one pick before the fifth round to do so. Will the team invest in a defensive lineman to replace Buckner? Or, will they finally add a legitimate starting cornerback to play alongside Richard Sherman?
The good news is a prime player from each position should be available at the end of the first round. The team should have the option of Clemson cornerback A.J. Terrell or TCU lineman Ross Blacklock. I give a slight edge to Blacklock.
At the end of the day, the 49ers are a defensive-oriented roster. Their 2020 Super Bowl appearance happened in large part because of their consistent ability to rush the passer with four players and limit big plays.
Blacklock will help the team maintain their identity as well as any player they could select at this spot. Potential placeholder corners like Eli Apple and Prince Amukamara are also still available in free agency.
The TCU star is a load on the inside. He’s 6-foot-4 and 305 pounds with freakish power and a motor that doesn’t stop. He has a prime Gerald McCoy-like ability to penetrate the backfield and wreak havoc.
This will allow him to instantly make a tangible difference in both the rush defense and the pass rush. In a lot of ways, he would be a younger, less expensive source of what the team gave up in the Buckner trade.
There are only two notable concerns in Blacklock’s profile. An ACL tear he suffered in 2018 is certainly something teams will notice. However, he was extremely productive in 2017 after the injury and in 2019 after it had healed.
Otherwise, scouts have noted that the lineman has shown a tendency to process the game a bit slow at times. That being said, Blacklock is a first-round consideration for a reason. The 49ers should be thrilled to find a great talent at a position of need.
Note: Keep on eye on the trade market. If San Francisco doesn’t love what they see, they could be serious contenders to trade back to acquire additional capital.
Honorable Mention: A.J. Terrell (CB, Clemson), Cesar Ruiz (C, Michigan)