It’s hard to get a firm grip on the 49ers’ list of needs in the 2024 draft because of all the question marks they have at a number of key spots. The good news is they’re back in the first round in 2024 where they can target a high-quality prospect at whichever position emerges as a top need.
An early first-round projection from ESPN’s Jordan Reid has San Francisco targeting BYU offensive tackle Kingley Suamataia with the 29th overall pick in next year’s draft.
There are a handful of interesting things with this that go beyond Suamataia as a player. Mocks require information that won’t be gained until the college and NFL seasons play out, so when one comes out ahead of training camp, there are other things to glean from it.
Let’s run through the different angles of intrigue for the 49ers in Reid’s mock:
Where the 49ers pick
Reid used ESPN’s Football Power Index to determine the order. That leaves the 49ers picking No. 29, indicating an NFC championship game loss to the Eagles, who hold the 31st pick. Another third consecutive NFC championship game loss would be a tough one for San Francisco to handle depending on how the game shakes out.
If the 49ers fall again due to injury or because of quarterback play, we could see some pretty significant offseason changes as head coach Kyle Shanahan and the front office try to get over the NFC championship game hump.
Picking an offensive tackle
The 49ers selecting a tackle with their first first round pick since 2021 would mean either something didn’t go well with Colton McKivitz in his stint as the team’s starting right tackle, or Trent Williams decided to retire after the 2023 season.
The former there is more likely than the latter. San Francisco signed McKivitz to a two-year deal this offseason which indicates some level of faith, but he’s still a significant question mark in what will be his first crack at being a full-time starter. In three seasons he has just five starts under his belt. There’s a real chance the 49ers exit the 2023 season with right tackle sitting atop their list of draft needs.
It would be a pretty huge wrench in the 49ers’ offseason if Williams wound up hanging up his pads next year. He turns 35 in July and hinted after this year that he’d be pondering his future. There’s still a lot of good football left for Williams, although he remains one of the best players in the league. It’s hard to imagine he’d go out with three years and more than $60 million left on his contract. If he does, the 49ers may be active in trying to trade up for a LT, or aggressive in finding one in free agency.
To the pick!
Regardless of the time of year, thinking about how a prospect would fit with a team is always fun. Suamataia seems to fit the OT profile the 49ers want. He’s listed on BYU’s athletics site at 6-6, 315 pounds and brings plenty of athleticism with that size. Here’s what Reid wrote about him:
He could be a star in a zone-blocking scheme, like what coach Kyle Shanahan runs in San Francisco. At 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds, he has good movement skills but is still working to gain strength in his upper body.
Suamataia, a Utah native, made his way to BYU via Oregon where he only played one game as a redshirt freshman. He transferred to BYU for the 2022 season and immediately had success. Suamataia was the starter in all 12 games for the Cougars and earned First or Second-Team All-American accolades from the Athletic, College Football Network, Phil Steele and College Football News.
He played right tackle last year, but will likely flip to the left side in 2023 to take over for Blake Freeland, who was a fourth-round pick of the Colts this year.
If Suamataia thrives in his move to left tackle, he could wind up launching his draft stock well above where the 49ers hope to be picked.
Story originally appeared on Niners Wire