How 49ers draft pick Ronnie Bell impressed John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan
What impressed Lynch, Shanahan most about draft pick Bell originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
SANTA CLARA — The 49ers already had a solid group of receivers on their roster, but Michigan wide receiver Ronnie Bell was someone general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan believed would be a worthwhile addition.
After the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft on Saturday, Lynch and Shanahan explained what was so compelling about the seventh-round, No. 253 overall pick.
“Just how consistent of a football player he is,” Shanahan said. “A special teams player and a good returner. He did really everything they asked. He was very good in his routes. There was not one thing that he struggled with.”
Bell will join Brandon Aiyuk, who led the team in receiving yards during the 2022 NFL season, and All-Pro “wide-back” Deebo Samuel -- the one-two punch of the 49ers' receiving corps. While the Wolverine learns the ins and outs of Shanahan’s offense, he will compete with and learn from Ray-Ray McCloud in the return game.
“The return ability is a big thing,” Lynch said. “We had Ray-Ray, and behind Ray-Ray we didn’t really have anyone. BA has done it before, but we wanted another returner. Really, he made it just on those traits. He’s a guy that, the more we watched, the more we liked. He did it at the right times, too.”
Bell also impressed the 49ers brass by being a two-year team captain and leading Michigan in receiving yards in three out of the last four seasons. In 2021, Bell suffered a season-ending ACL injury, which limited his statistics to one catch for 76 yards prior to red-shirting the remainder of the year.
Now feeling stronger and fully recovered, Bell is ready to prove he has what it takes to make it in the NFL. Lynch and Shanahan both believe that the rookie has the potential to be an impact player for the club.
“I think not the biggest package, but real tough, physical and gritty player with the ball in his hands,” Lynch said. “He made a lot of big plays in big moments.”
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Shanahan, who might be tougher on receivers than any other position, will test what Bell’s best abilities are, but the coach already believes the young addition has a lot of potential to be productive at the next level.
“When you can put him into a group, and whatever his skillset is, I think he can fit into any position,” Shanahan said. “He seemed like one of the more reliable wideouts that we watched in all of college football.
"We want guys to be good over time, and I feel like he’s a guy who has been as good of a football player as there is in college. We have to see how he adjusts at this level, but if he can play at this level the way that he did in college, we’re going to have a really good football player.”
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