49ers: Analyzing San Francisco’s two first-round picks in the 2020 NFL Draft

49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
49ers (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The San Francisco 49ers made two selections in Round 1 of the 2020 NFL Draft landing defensive lineman Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk. We briefly analyze their two Day 1 picks.

The San Francisco 49ers had first-round needs at defensive tackle and wide receiver and got just that in South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw and Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk.

While I’ve been a huge supporter of Jerry Jeudy, this draft is perhaps the deepest draft in history at the wide receiver position. They wisely chose to wait on the receiver to fill the need on the defensive line with one of the best players on the draft board.

The 49ers traded their 13th pick to Tampa Bay to move back one pick and add a fourth-rounder.  Tampa took offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs leaving one of the two most highly-rated defensive tackles in Kinlaw.

He will fill the void left when the 49ers traded DeForest Buckner.

Most thought that Derrick Brown and Javon Kinlaw were head and shoulders ahead of the other defensive tackles. Brown went seventh overall to the Carolina Panthers and was ranked as the best run stopper but Kinlaw may have more all-around upside.

The 49ers went to the Super Bowl last year primarily because of their domination along the defensive line and this pick will keep that domination intact.

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He had the highest win rate against opposing linemen over the last two years in college. Being on a South Carolina team where he was often double-teamed, that’s a pretty amazing stat.

At South Carolina, Kinlaw was a teammate of current 49ers wide receiver, Deebo Samuel. Kinlaw is 6-foot-5 and 315 pounds and Matt Maiocco of NBCS Bay Area drew a comparison to Kansas City Chiefs’ All-Pro Chris Jones.

Kinlaw had a rough upbringing and he and his family were homeless for a time. Now they should have enough money to avoid further difficulties. His dad has been a 49ers fan for much of his life and now he has a new favorite player in his son.

Next, the 49ers wanted a wide receiver at the end of the first round. Kyle Shanahan was a big fan of Arizona State’s Brandon Aiyuk. Shanahan said he even thought about him with the earlier pick because he didn’t think he’d fall to pick 31.

After picking up an additional pick by moving back one selection earlier in the first round, they had enough draft capital to let them move up later. They traded picks 31, 117, and 176 to Minnesota in order to move up to pick 25 and nab Aiyuk.

The first five wide receivers were: Henry Ruggs to the Las Vegas Raiders, Jerry Jeudy to the Denver Broncos, CeeDee Lamb to the Dallas Cowboys, Jalen Reagor to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Justin Jefferson to the Minnesota Vikings — in that order.

Herm Edwards is the Arizona State coach and godfather to Shanahan’s daughter. Edwards had a glowing report on Aiyuk both as an athlete and a person.

Aiyuk had 1,192 yards and eight touchdowns receiving at Arizona State and is also a wizard on punt and kick returns. He’s quick and at 6-foot, 205 pounds seems sturdy and excels after the catch. He’ll compete immediately to be the 49ers No. 2 receiver behind Samuel.

Aiyuk will likely compete for the return role as well. Last year, he averaged 16 yards on punt returns and 32 yards on kickoff returns. The 49ers were somewhat lacking in both last year as they ranked 27th in kickoff returns and 9th in punt returns.

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The wideout has 4.50 speed and a 40-inch verticle leap. He was adept in both slants and deep balls last year. Aiyuk went to Sierra Junior College in Roseville, the past training ground for the 49ers, and still lives there.

He missed the Senior Bowl with a core injury and had to have surgery. But, he says he’ll be ready for the start of the season and is already running.

Aiyuk was the sixth wide receiver to be taken but there’s little dropoff from any of the top five. After Daniel Jeremiah, NFL Network analyst ranked Aiyuk the No. 24 overall player in the draft. Mel Kiper Jr. said that he, “brings the type of route running and versatility they received from [Emmanuel] Sanders.”

In addition to Aiyuk, the 49ers will be getting back Jalen Hurd and Trent Taylor from injury. What appeared as a weakness last year, could become another strength this year.

Hurd was previously a second-round pick while Taylor went in the fifth. Kendrick Bourne will be returning and will certainly get playing time as well.

Next. 49ers: Grade and analysis for the first-round selection of DT Javon Kinlaw. dark

In all, the 49ers are ready to win now, and adding two key cogs helps put them in even a better position than last year.