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San Francisco 49ers

2019 NFL Draft: WR DK Metcalf’s combine workout benefits 49ers

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49ers, 2019 NFL Draft, Combine, DK Metcalf
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

After his one-of-a-kind performance at the NFL Scouting Combine, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf rocketed up 2019 NFL Draft boards. However, the WR also demonstrated why he’s off the San Francisco 49ers’ draft radar.

When it comes to wide receivers, San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan has a type, and that type is not University of Mississippi wideout D.K. Metcalf.

Over the weekend, Metcalf put on a clinic at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, as the top prospect showed off his rare combination of size, strength and speed. As the weekend wore on, the wide receiver began to headline nearly every list of “combine winners,” with praises ranging from “athletic freak” to “superhuman.”

Perhaps Metcalf isn’t human. He looks more like a sculpture than a real person, and he certainly doesn’t look like a wide receiver capable of running a 4.33 40-yard dash:

D.K. Metcalf is a rare specimen, as noted by NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks:

“The freakish athletic specimen lived up to the hype with a spectacular on-field performance Saturday. At 6-3 and 228 pounds, Metcalf ripped off a 4.33 40-yard dash, a 40.5-inch vertical leap and an 11-foot-2 broad jump” -Bucky Brooks

But D.K. Metcalf also has a huge problem, which is obvious from his game film — and now his combine numbers – but yet continues to be ignored. Metcalf can outrun cornerbacks and steamroll over linebackers, but the wide receiver is less agile than an average NFL quarterback.

The speedster’s three-cone and 20-yard-shuttle numbers pale in comparison to those of 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo. Even New England Patriots QB Tom Brady proved to be quicker than Metcalf, despite his famously poor combine performance. In fact, Metcalf showed less agility than every quarterback who participated in either of the two combine events — aside from Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur, who somehow managed to run for -326 yards over his college career.

Another interesting comp for the wide receiver is former 49ers defensive tackle Chris Jones, who topped Metcalf in both agility drills, despite weighing in at over 300 pounds and recording a 40-yard-dash time of 5.33, compared to Metcalf’s 4.33.

Shanahan values speed, but he loves short-area quickness. It’s no coincidence that during his tenure in San Francisco, the 49ers have yet to draft a player with a three-cone or 20-yard-shuttle time slower than Metcalf’s subpar combine numbers. Short-area quickness is particularly important to Shanahan at the wide receiver position, which is evident in the glaring disparity between the MockDraftable combine graphs for Metcalf and 49ers wideout Trent Taylor:

Metcalf’s stunning lack of agility should be enough to remove him from the No. 2 draft pick conversation. When you add in the wideout’s unfortunate injury history, Metcalf quickly becomes an extremely risky first-round selection, even with his blazing straight-line speed. In addition, Metcalf is an inexperienced receiver who doesn’t run a complete route tree — as noted by Locked on 49ers host Brian Peacock last month — and totaled a season’s worth of production over his entire college career:

WR D.K. Metcalf – College Statistics
Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2016 Ole Miss SEC FR WR 2 2 13 6.5 2 0 0 0 2 13 6.5 2
2017 Ole Miss SEC FR WR 12 39 646 16.6 7 0 0 0 39 646 16.6 7
2018 Ole Miss SEC SO WR 7 26 569 21.9 5 0 0 0 26 569 21.9 5
Career Ole Miss 67 1228 18.3 14 0 0 0 67 1228 18.3 14

 

WR Trent Taylor – College Statistics
Receiving Rushing Scrimmage
Year School Conf Class Pos G Rec Yds Avg TD Att Yds Avg TD Plays Yds Avg TD
2013 Louisiana Tech CUSA FR WR 10 28 260 9.3 2 0 0 0 28 260 9.3 2
*2014 Louisiana Tech CUSA SO WR 14 64 834 13.0 9 0 0 0 64 834 13.0 9
*2015 Louisiana Tech CUSA JR WR 13 99 1282 12.9 9 0 0 0 99 1282 12.9 9
*2016 Louisiana Tech CUSA SR WR 14 136 1803 13.3 12 0 0 0 136 1803 13.3 12
Career Louisiana Tech 327 4179 12.8 32 0 0 0 327 4179 12.8 32

 

Despite the many question marks surrounding Metcalf, it’s easy to picture how the athletic ability he showed off during the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine could translate into NFL success. However, the raw talent is a far cry from former wideout prospects Julio Jones and Calvin Johnson, despite the flurry of comparisons over the past two days.

Metcalf comes with a ton of risk, but the potential rewards are as massive as the wide receiver’s chiseled frame. While the 21-year-old would be a perfect second-round selection for an NFL team interested in a long-term project with extreme upside, given Metcalf’s combination of size and speed, he won’t last long in the green room during Day 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft.

The sudden Metcalf hype is a best-case scenario for the Niners, as the value of their second overall selection grows whenever a new “top talent” becomes a potential early draft pick. The San Francisco 49ers desperately need a top wide receiver, but given what we know about head coach Kyle Shanahan, wide receiver D.K. Metcalf isn’t on that list.

Chris Wilson is the Lead Writer for Locked on 49ers - part of the Locked On Podcast Network. You may have seen Chris Wilson’s work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis and film breakdowns at FanSided, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, ClutchPoints, Insidethe49 and others. Follow Chris Wilson on Twitter @cgawilson.

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San Francisco 49ers

Colton McKivitz Scouting Report, Trent Williams and OL Depth Chart

Brian Peacock

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© Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports
  • Is Trent Williams an upgrade at left tackle over the retired Joe Staley?
  • Scouting report on fifth round tackle Colton McKivitz
  • Tom Compton vs Daniel Brunskill at right guard
  • Battle for the final roster spot on the offensive line

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San Francisco 49ers

PODCAST: The Brandon Aiyuk Episode

Brian Peacock

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© Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
  • Pick 25 in the 2020 draft, WR Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State
  • Scouting report, strengths, weaknesses
  • How Aiyuk went from community college corner to first round reciever
  • Challenges for Aiyuk to reach his immense ceiling with the 49ers

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San Francisco 49ers

49ers Surprise During Action-Packed 2020 NFL Draft, but at what Cost?

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49ers 2020 Draft, Javon Kinlaw
© Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers filled three immediate needs during the 2020 NFL Draft, but were first-round draft picks DT Javon Kinlaw and WR Brandon Aiyuk — and new starting LT Trent Williams — worth the cost?

This is the first in a three-part series analyzing the San Francisco 49ers’ 2020 “draft masterclass.” The Niners’ draft has been ranked by analysts as one of the NFL’s best, although it takes years before a draft class can be properly assessed. So instead of merely grading these college talents before their first NFL snaps, we’ll take a look at the 49ers’ picks — and more importantly — the 49ers’ process.

San Francisco’s general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan were full of surprises during the 2020 NFL Draft, beginning in the first round. Every 2020 mock draft was immediately ripped to shreds as the vast majority of fans and analysts expected the Niners to trade away one of their prized first-round picks for additional draft capital. Instead, the 49ers traded both of their Day 1 picks but ended the evening with just two players, and no selections for the second day of the draft.

Lynch and Shanahan started their “draft tradefest” in a dream scenario: on the clock with the consensus top-2 wide receivers in the draft — Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb — on the board, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the phone. The Bucs wanted to move up a single spot to the No. 13 selection — the pick the receiver-needy 49ers obtained via their trade of star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner — which would leave at least one of the two top receiver prospects on the board for San Francisco.

The two teams executed the trade, which scored the Niners a fouth-rounder in exchange for one of the 49ers’ seventh-round picks. Minutes later, San Francisco was back on the clock, and both receivers were still on the board. But instead of taking advantage of the situation they lucked themselves into, the Lynch and Shanahan did what they seem to do every year — follow their collective gut or the opinion of a trusted contact outside the organization — and drafted Buckner’s hopeful replacement, South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw:

 

49ers Draft Pick No. 14: DT Javon Kinlaw

On Tuesday, Lynch spoke about the decision on FOX Sports’ The Herd with Collin Cowherd:

“We were incredibly comfortable with Will Muschamp because he gave us such an accurate depiction of Deebo Samuel last year. I didn’t know Will. I met him once. But we called on Deebo and he hit all his strengths, but he also hit his, not really weaknesses, but just realities of who the person is. And he depicted Deebo so well, a year later I said, ‘Kyle, we’ve got to pick up the phone and call Will about Kinlaw because he was so darn honest.” -John Lynch

Despite Muschamp’s biased opinion of his former player, there’s a lot to like about the raw Kinlaw:

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 324 pounds, he is shorter and stouter than his predecessor. And surprisingly, given his massive size, the DT has proven to be a better defender against the pass than the run. In 2019, Kinlaw received a 90.7 pass-rushing grade from Pro Football Focus (PFF), despite logging just six sacks during the season, and 10 only sacks over his three-year college career:

49ers DT Javon Kinlaw – College Defensive Statistics
Tackles Def Int Fumbles
Year School Conf Class Pos G Solo Ast Tot Loss Sk Int Yds Avg TD PD FR Yds TD FF
*2017 South Carolina SEC SO DL 7 12 5 17 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 1 2 1
*2018 South Carolina SEC JR DL 10 15 15 30 9.0 4.0 0 0 0 5 0 2
2019 South Carolina SEC SR DL 12 15 20 35 6.0 6.0 0 0 0 2 2 0
Career South Carolina 42 40 82 17.0 10.0 0 0 0 8 4 3

 

Since there are no easy games in the NFL, the 49ers hope they drafted the overpowering and productive version of Kinlaw and not the version who disappeared when South Carolina faced weaker opponents.

My initial assessment of the Kinlaw selection is I like the player, but I’m not a fan of the 49ers spending the draft pick they acquired in exchange for Buckner on a less-talented but cheaper version of the stud defensive lineman. San Francisco should have entered this year’s draft with one primary goal: improving their 2020 roster enough to win one more game than they did in 2019 — and “trading” Buckner for Kinlaw makes the Niners worse, albeit richer, in the short term.

Perhaps this pick would have been a bit sweeter if Lynch didn’t promptly waste the fourth-round selection he just obtained from Tampa Bay. Unfortunately, the 49ers’ fourth-year GM — in the role normally played by his partner-in-crime Shanahan — fell in love with a prospect and wasted valuable draft capital to unnecessarily trade up for the one player he desperately needed to draft.

We’ll break down the San Francisco 49ers’ second first-round selection — and how the Niners got there — next.

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