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Yates sees 49ers drafting cornerback at No. 31 in final mock

Yates sees 49ers drafting cornerback at No. 31 in final mock originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

With the 2024 NFL Draft almost underway, one analyst has the 49ers selecting a cornerback with their first-round pick.

ESPN's Field Yates has Alabama corner Kool-Aid McKinstry as San Francisco's selection at pick No. 31 in his latest NFL mock draft column.

“Teams have speculated to me that San Francisco could move up to land an offensive tackle, but cornerback is interesting here,” Yates wrote. “It's perhaps more of a longer-term issue than a shorter-term one, as starters Charvarius Ward and Deommodore Lenoir are both scheduled to be free agents after 2024. McKinstry is a silky-smooth coverage player who had 20 pass breakups over the past two seasons.”

Beyond the obvious marketing opportunities of playing for a team with red as its primary color, McKinstry would be a good fit for a 49ers defense that is looking to get younger and faster after parting ways with some key veterans during the offseason.

McKinstry sustained a Jones fracture in his right foot, but is expected to fully recover by the start of training camp after undergoing surgery to fix the injury in late March. The 21-year-old never missed a game during his time at Alabama, and was an All-American selection in 2023.

While San Francisco has a whopping 10 total picks in the draft, getting an impact player with the No. 31 selection in round one would go a long way. However, many expect the 49ers to select an offensive lineman to protect quarterback Brock Purdy.

Another possibility would be the team selecting wide receiver Xavier Worthy, who just set the NFL combine record in the 40-yard dash, but that appears to be highly dependent on the Brandon Ayiuk contract situation.

Still, San Francisco will have plenty of opportunities to retool its roster, and adding the likes of McKinstry would go a long way toward bolstering the defense for another deep postseason run.

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit, Michigan.

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