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NFL Draft: 3 players from the National Championship the 49ers could target

Before the NFL playoffs get underway with Wild Card Weekend, college football decided its champion in a highly-anticipated battle between undefeated Washington and undefeated Michigan in Houston.

Although Washington was billed as the team with the high-powered offense led by Heisman Trophy runner-up Michael Penix Jr., it was Michigan who struck first with a pair of explosive scoring plays in the first quarter.

While Washington threatened a comeback bid throughout the contest, Penix Jr.’s group could never get out of first gear against Jim Harbaugh’s stingy defense. Michigan capitalized late to extend their lead in a slugfest to secure the 2024 national championship with a dominant 34-13 victory.

With the college football season officially wrapped up, here’s a look at three players that may have caught the San Francisco 49ers’ attention for the NFL draft with impressive performances on Monday night.

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Michigan CB Mike Sainristil

Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil celebrates a play against Washington during the second half of U-M’s 34-13 win in the College Football Playoff national championship game in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.
Michigan defensive back Mike Sainristil celebrates a play against Washington during the second half of U-M’s 34-13 win in the College Football Playoff national championship game in Houston on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024.

The star-studded battle of the game came between the Michigan secondary and Washington’s pass catchers. Michigan’s corners came away as the victors behind strong performances from Mike Sainristil and Will Johnson.

Locking up with future NFL talent Rome Odunze, Jalen McMillan and Ja’Lynn Polk, Sainristil was all over the field on Monday night in Houston. The former wide receiver recorded a team-high eight tackles. Sainristil also came up with one of the biggest plays of the game, intercepting Penix Jr. and essentially sealing the game for the Wolverines.

Sainristil looks like he could smoothly step in at nickel and contribute on Sundays.

Washington CB Jabbar Muhammad

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies cornerback Jabbar Muhammad (1) breaks up a pass intended for Michigan Wolverines wide receiver <a class="link " href="https://sports.yahoo.com/ncaaf/players/306521" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Cornelius Johnson;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Cornelius Johnson</a> (6) during the second quarter in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Its no surprise the 49ers could target help in the secondary when April’s draft rolls around, and lucky for John Lynch and Adam Peters, the national championship was littered with impressive coners, including Washington’s Jabbar Muhmmad.

Muhammad helped keep Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy in check while slowing down Roman Wilson and Cornelius Johnson on Monday. Usinh his clinical route recognition skills, Muhammad came up with a clutch pass break up on third down to force a field goal attempt.

Muhammad also showed the ability to step in the box and tackle in the trenches. The 5-foot-10 corner recorded a pair of tackles, including a big stop on Michigan running back Blake Corum.

Washington TE Jack Westover

Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies tight end Jack Westover (37) runs with the ball against the Michigan Wolverines during the third quarter in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 8, 2024; Houston, TX, USA; Washington Huskies tight end Jack Westover (37) runs with the ball against the Michigan Wolverines during the third quarter in the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

While Odunze, McMillan, and Polk headlined the show for Washington, it was do-it-all tight end Jack Westover, who fueled the Huskies’ offense with signs of life against Michigan. Westover notched five catches for 42 yards on Monday night and looked like one of Penix Jr.’s favorite targets.

At 6-foot-3, Westover showed the ability to play inline and in the slot. He also was often in the backfield as an H-back. With a versatile skillset and sure hands, Westover stood out as an intriguing chess piece Kyle Shanahan could take a flier on to stick behind George Kittle.

Story originally appeared on Niners Wire