San Francisco 49ers NFL draft picks 2021: Analysis for every selection

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The 2021 NFL draft is being held Thursday through Saturday and every San Francisco 49ers’ draft pick will be analyzed here.

After last season’s virtual draft, Cleveland is playing host to festivities this year with a handful of potential draft picks present and socially distanced because of COVID-19.

Here’s a pick-by-pick look at how each player San Francisco has selected will fit.


Round 1, No. 3 overall: QB Trey Lance

My take: After taking a big risk to trade up to this spot, it’s only fitting that the 49ers took the biggest risk on the most unknown player. And it’s an inspired choice. Who knows whether Lance will reach his tremendous upside, but every player coming into the league via the draft comes with risk. What we do know is Lance has everything you need to become a superstar in this league and the 49ers offer the ideal situation to help him reach that ceiling. A strong roster, a talented coaching staff and an innovative scheme should give Lance every chance to develop and become the type of quarterback who takes the Niners where they want to go.

Ready to play?: The prevailing wisdom on Lance around the league has been that he might need a year to sit and develop before he’s ready to play. There are some mechanical and accuracy issues that need to be worked out and it’s a big jump from the FCS to the NFC West. But there are those with the Niners who believe he isn’t as far off as the public perception would indicate. Why? Lance is viewed as one of the smartest quarterbacks in the draft, and he comes from a system that had him doing things the Niners do — going under center and running play action. He might not be ready Week 1, but it might not take a whole season on the bench, either.

Whither Garoppolo?: The 49ers have their quarterback of the future, but the biggest question remaining relates to what happens to their quarterback of the present, Jimmy Garoppolo. The team has said it plans to keep Garoppolo and allow a rookie to learn under him in 2021, but that stance seemed to soften earlier this week. There will still be teams in need of a quarterback that could be interested in Garoppolo, though that’s complicated by his no-trade clause and the $24 million-plus base salary he’s owed this year. San Francisco won’t give Garoppolo away for nothing, but anytime a team takes a quarterback this high, it starts the clock on the incumbent’s departure.

What’s next: The 49ers have two picks on Day 2, one in the second round (No. 43) and one at the end of the third round (No. 102), which should allow them to address pressing needs at cornerback, slot receiver, on the interior offensive line and at edge rusher. The good news for them? There looks to be plenty of talent still available in most of those spots, especially at corner and receiver.