There were two distinct halves to the 49ers’ 2021 season. By Week 9, San Francisco had lost five of its first eight games and was on a similar pace to the 6-10 49ers team of the previous season.
Then the Niners hit their stride, winning seven of their next nine games and finishing the regular season with a thrilling overtime win against the Rams. They stayed hot in the postseason, beating Dallas in the NFC Wild Card Round and upending the Packers in the Divisional Round.
All three of their final impressive victories came on the road.
A campaign that was thrilling in its final weeks ended with a disappointing loss to the Rams in the NFC Championship Game, but the 49ers ultimately exceeded expectations.
Now, the big question is when the Trey Lance era begins. San Francisco entered the 2022 NFL Draft without a first-round pick after trading up for Lance in last year’s NFL Draft.
49ers NFL Draft Picks 2022
- Round 2, Pick 29 (61st Overall): Drake Jackson, EDGE, USC
- Round 3, Pick 29 (93rd Overall): Tyrion Davis-Price, RB, LSU
- Round 3, Pick 41 (105th Overall): Danny Gray, WR, SMU
- Round 4, Pick 29 (134th Overall): Spencer Burford, G, Texas-San Antonio
- Round 5, Pick 29 (172nd Overall): Samuel Womack, CB, Toledo
- Round 6, Pick 8 (187th Overall): Nick Zakelj, OT, Fordham
- Round 6, Pick 42 (220th Overall): Kalia Davis, DT, UCF
- Round 6, Pick 43 (221st Overall): Tariq Castro-Fields, CB, Penn State
- Round 7, Pick 41 (262nd Overall): Brock Purdy, QB, Iowa State
At this point, the writing is on the wall and the 49ers are planning to move forward with Lance instead of Jimmy Garoppolo.
Drake Jackson was their first pick in the second round. He’s a solid pass-rusher and is already getting praises from new teammate Nick Bosa. The 49ers have a history of developing edge rushers well and Jackson should be a nice piece for this defense moving forward.
Drafting a running back in the third round was the only pick that I thought made little sense for the 49ers. They must really like LSU’s Tyrion Davis-Price after seeing what Elijah Mitchell did last year, not to mention having already drafted Trey Sermon where they did.
I didn’t mind drafting another running back to complete this backfield, but this felt a bit early.
SMU wide receiver Danny Gray was a solid pick. He’s athletic, has a ton of speed, and I’m interested to see how the 49ers utilize him. Given the uncertainty still surrounding Deebo Samuel, this pick made a lot of sense. Outside of Samuel, San Francisco can only really trust Brandon Aiyuk and Jauan Jennings at wideout.
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Note: The 49ers NFL Draft predictions below were published before the 2022 NFL Draft.
Pre-Draft 49ers NFL Mock Draft Predictions 2022
- Round 2, Pick 29 (61st Overall): Jamaree Salyer, Guard, Georgia
- Round 3, Pick 29 (93rd Overall): Sam Williams, EDGE, Ole Miss
- Round 3, Pick 41 (105th Overall): Marcus Jones, CB, Houston
- Round 4, Pick 29 (134th Overall): Markquese Bell, S, Florida A&M
More Possible 49ers Draft Targets: Cameron Thomas, EDGE, San Diego State; Coby Bryant, CB, Cincinnati
Pre-Draft 49ers Team Needs 2022
1. Offensive Line
Losing Laken Tomlinson in free agency makes this the most pressing need heading into the 2022 NFL Draft. There are also concerns at right tackle, but both guard spots now look shaky. It remains to be seen how comfortable San Francisco is with its internal options.
Daniel Brunskill has been signed to return, and can be an option at right guard, but an upgrade would be ideal if possible. The 49ers may also feel that Aaron Banks, who they drafted in the second round last year, could be ready to take over a starting spot.
The Niners don’t have much cap space available to bring in a desired veteran, but a trade could free up some room to bring in a veteran or they can maneuver into a better position to draft an impact lineman with a Garoppolo or Samuel deal.
San Francisco lost Tom Compton at tackle, but the franchise is hopeful Mike McGlinchey will be healthy for the 2022 campaign.
If the 49ers utilize one of their first available selections on a possible offensive line starter, they will then have to address the defense quickly thereafter. Of course, Nick Bosa anchors the pass rush, but he needs some more reliable help.
San Francisco may be regretting its trade for Dee Ford in 2019, as he, unfortunately, landed on injured reserve in each of the last two seasons and is not expected to be back. The 49ers did finish sixth in the NFL in sacks last season with 48, but they will also have to replace Arden Key, who was second on the team with 6.5 sacks.
The Niners must account for the losses of Ford and Key, and while Arik Armstead is certainly a factor in the middle, the team has to land another pass rusher to possibly pair with Bosa. San Francisco should make a potential impact addition in this area to maintain the level of pass pressure.
As the 49ers get deeper into the draft, expect them to add some depth at cornerback. Losing K’waun Williams will likely prompt the team to make a move at the position among their first few selections, even if not with one of the first two available picks.
Signing Charvarius Ward was a significant priority move in free agency. Emmanuel Moseley and Ambry Thomas give the 49ers a good grouping to anchor the position.
Having the Rams and Cooper Kupp as the main rivals in the NFC West should be a strong reason why San Francisco will make sure to further bolster this unit. They also have Kyler Murray, DK Metcalf, and Tyler Lockett to contend with twice a year.
49ers May Also Consider Drafting: Safety, Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle, Tight End