216. Noah Ruggles, K, Ohio State
Longtime kicker Robbie Gould announced that he would not be returning to the 49ers next year, so a position that San Francisco has not worried about for years is now a position of need. It’s not typical for a team to draft a kicker but we make an exception here and grab the player many believe is the best in the mock draft at his position: Noah Ruggles out of Ohio State.
Ruggles was one of the best kickers in the country last year as he went 74-75 on extra points and 17-20 on field goals over 13 games. Overall in his career, he went 196-197 on extra points and improved greatly from a 70% success rate in three years at North Carolina to just over 90% in two years at Ohio State.
Most fans will remember his miss in the College Football Playoff against Georgia, but he was 5-5 from extra point in that game and hit a clutch 48-yarder earlier in that fourth quarter to extend Ohio State’s lead. He has played in big games and in high pressure situations and should be able to maintain that standard of excellence in San Francisco.
224. Tashawn Manning, OG, Kentucky
Similar to the reasoning behind drafting Alex Forsyth, the 49ers need to continue to improve their depth and talent on the interior offensive line and the late rounds are a great place to do that. They do so in this mock draft by using the No. 224 overall pick on interior lineman, Tashawn Manning, out of Kentucky.
Manning started his college career at Auburn and played four seasons with the Tigers before transferring to Kentucky as a fifth-year senior. He played both right and left guard over the course of his career, though the majority of his snaps in his last season were on the right side.
Scouts rave about his nasty demeanor and his violent approach to blocking in the run game, which will help him fit in right away in San Francisco. He is solidly built at 6-foot-3 and 327 pounds and has long arms and a massive wingspan to create separation from defensive linemen. There are some concerns about his ability in space, but given some time in the Shanahan development system, he should be able to contribute fairly soon.
249. Davis Allen, TE, Clemson
George Kittle is the headliner at tight end, but the 49ers may be in the market for a backup with Ross Dwelly likely leaving in free agency. In steps Davis Allen out of Clemson who has prototypical height and size at 6-foot-6 and 250 pounds. The 49ers grab him here with the No. 249 overall pick in this mock draft.
Allen has developed into a very good blocker over his Clemson career and has shown a natural pass-catching ability during his time there as well. He won’t blow you away with his measurables or his statistics, but he is the type of big body tight end that can make an immediate impact in this offense.
The former Clemson Tiger has solid speed for his size at 4.84 and has the type of fluidity and body control you look for in a tight end. He has great athleticism in other ways as his 38.5-inch vertical jump was second in his position group at the combine and his broad jump of ten feet, five inches was good enough for fourth. This combination of athletic traits and football intelligence make him an intriguing prospect that could develop into something special.
255. Elijah Higgins, WR, Stanford
The 49ers love big body receivers and we wrap up this mock draft with the selection of Elijah Higgins out of Stanford with the No. 255 overall pick. Higgins measures in at 6-foot-3 and 235 pounds and is one of the bigger receivers in this draft class with a weight in the 99th percentile at the position.
The Texas native ran an impressive 4.5 40-yard dash, which doesn’t sound like much but is incredible considering his height and weight. He is another player that is a member of Bruce Feldman’s Freaks List for being one of the fastest players in the Stanford program despite his size.
The Shanahan offense asks a lot from its wide receivers, especially in the run game, and we can imagine a player with this size and frame can do a lot of damage if he has the right attitude. Higgins also gives this offense a jump ball threat in the red zone and his run after the catch ability should make him an instant fit.
He may be buried down the depth chart quite a bit thanks to the talented players in this group, but his unique combination of size and speed will help him become a difference maker on this team.