NFL Draft 2023: Five positions 49ers could look to fill in third round

Five positions 49ers could target in third round of draft originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

The 2023 NFL Draft begins Friday.

Well, at least, that's when it likely will get going for the 49ers.

Barring an unexpected feat of maneuvering, the 49ers will sit out the first day of the draft Thursday.

Then, they do not have a pick scheduled for the regular phases of the second or third rounds, either.

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The 49ers are set to go on the clock for the first time late in the evening Friday with the No. 99 overall pick. The 49ers have three compensatory picks slammed close together at Nos. 99, 101 and 102.

General manager John Lynch said many factors have into the design of the team’s draft board, including positional need now, positional need one year from now, importance of position, best player available, and fit within the locker room and scheme.

Here are the 49ers' top needs that could be filled before the bell rings to open Day 3 of the draft Saturday:

Defensive back

We’re going to take the liberty of lumping cornerbacks, safeties and nickel backs together. The 49ers like position flexibility for their defensive backs, and plenty of players could serve multiple purposes at the end of the third round.


The 49ers do not need an immediate base starter, but they could use more competition at nickel back to replace Jimmie Ward.

They need more depth at cornerback and, most likely, a starter one year from now at free safety with veteran Tashaun Gipson back on a one-year contract.

Purdue's Cory Trice is 6-foot-3 and is seen as a cornerback/safety ‘tweener. He would be good as a press corner in the 49ers’ three-deep scheme to compete as a backup to Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir. Stanford’s Kyu Blu Kelly is an option here, too.

Among the safeties the 49ers might have an opportunity to call is LSU's Jay Ward and Marte Mapu, a 6-foot-3, 221-pound playmaker from Sacramento State.



Linebacker? Seriously? The 49ers already have one of the NFL's best linebacker tandems in Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw.

But the team, right now, does not have an obvious choice to be the other starter when Steve Wilks’ defense has three linebackers on the field for base downs.

The 49ers need someone to fill the spot vacated by Azeez Al-Shaair’s departure in free agency.

At the end of the third round, some of the options include Dorian Williams (Tulane), Henry To’oTo’o (Alabama) and DeMarvion Overshown (Texas)

Defensive line

It was interesting to hear Lynch recount an offseason conversation he had with coach Kyle Shanahan


“Kyle and I started talking, ‘How do you improve this team?’ ” Lynch said. “And the one area that was glaring to us — and it’s interesting to say this because we were the No. 1 defense in football — but we felt like we’d fallen off maybe just a tad on the D-line.”

The 49ers addressed the interior of their defensive line with the big-splash signing of Javon Hargrave, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles. But the team lacks edge rushers to provide some juice opposite Nick Bosa.

Among those who could be available to add to the mix to join Drake Jackson, the 49ers' second-round pick last year, are Byron Young (Tennessee), Tuli Tuipulotu (USC) and Isaiah McGuire (Missouri).

Tight end

George Kittle, who has three years remaining on his contract, is just fine. But the 49ers should look to add more depth and an all-around contributor behind him.


Reserve tight ends Tyler Kroft, Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley combined last season to play 540 snaps during the regular season. Kroft had four catches for 57 yards, while Dwelley had three grabs for 105 yards and one touchdown. Woerner did not catch a pass.

This appears to be a deep draft for tight ends, so the 49ers unquestionably will have some options late in the third round, such as Luke Schoonmaker (Michigan), Davis Allen (Clemson) and Brenton Strange (Penn State).


Would this be a reach to grab, say, Michigan kicker Jake Moody before the start of the fourth round?

Perhaps, but unless the 49ers do some wheeling and dealing to end up with a fourth-round selection, it seems Moody could be gone by the time they are next scheduled to go on the clock, at No. 155 overall.


The 49ers made an offseason trade to obtain veteran kicker Zane Gonzalez from the Carolina Panthers. Reliable Robbie Gould remains unsigned as an unrestricted free agent after going public before the start of free agency with his desire to play elsewhere.

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Gonzalez missed all of last season with a groin injury. Even when healthy, he has not been ultra-reliable, with an 80.5-percent career success rate on field-goal attempts.

Sure, the 49ers likely would face some ridicule for selecting a kicker this high in the draft. But when objectively searching for positions where they could use some immediate help, this position is near the top of the list.

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