San Francisco 49ers 2023 Mock Draft 2.0: Will the Niners draft an RB?

Apr 25, 2023, 9:00 AM | Updated: 9:48 am

Roschon Johnson #2 of the Texas Longhorns scores a touchdown in the first quarter against the Texas...

AUSTIN, TEXAS - SEPTEMBER 25: Roschon Johnson #2 of the Texas Longhorns scores a touchdown in the first quarter against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium on September 25, 2021 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

(Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)

With only a few days to go, the San Francisco 49ers are gearing up for a big draft weekend. Equipped with the second-most draft picks this year (11), the 49ers could restock for another deep playoff run, hoping a few selections could start in the not-so-distant future.

Below is a full list of the 49ers’ 2023 draft picks:

  • Round 3, Pick 99 (compensatory)
  • Round 3, Pick 101 (compensatory)
  • Round 3, Pick 102 (compensatory)
  • Round 5, Pick 155 (via Miami Dolphins)
  • Round 5, Pick 164
  • Round 5, Pick 173 (compensatory)
  • Round 6, Pick 216 (compensatory)
  • Round 7, Pick 222 (via Denver Broncos)
  • Round 7, Pick 247
  • Round 7, Pick 253 (compensatory)
  • Round 7, Pick 255 (compensatory)

And while general manager John Lynch could move up in this draft for a player the team likes, they could also use another youth reset on the depth chart.

“If you ask what are the themes of this draft, I think one of them is the quality of depth in this draft,” 49ers general manager John Lynch stated at his press conference Monday. “I think that sets up well for our first pick being at 99, then having 11 of them. The quality of depth is really a signature of this draft for me. There’s a lot of good football players and a lot that we like. That excites me and that excites everybody and we have to have a productive draft.”

So without further ado, here is Sactown Sports’ final mock draft for the San Francisco 49ers in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Round 3, Pick 99 – S Ji’Ayir Brown

College: Penn State

Maybe a surprise pick here but the 49ers need to find a long-term safety option past this season.

San Francisco re-signed the ageless wonder that is Tashaun Gipson Sr. this offseason, pairing him with Talanoa Hufanga for the 2023 season. Despite the rejuvenation, Gipson is at the tail-end of his career (turns 33 before the start of the season) and the 49ers need to replace Jimmy Ward in the secondary.

Penn State safety Ji’Ayir Brown alleviates those concerns.

“Tig” Brown was a two-year starter for the Nittany Lions, playing 32 games in. his colligate career. A versatile defensive player, Brown racked up 153 total tackles, including nine for loss in three years. He also showed ball-hawking abilities, snagging 10 interceptions and breaking up nine passes in coverage. He finished his time with Penn State on a strong note, named Defensive MVP of the Rose Bowl (eight tackles, 1.5 sacks, INT).

His stock may have taken a slight hit at the Combine though. Finishing 12th amongst safeties, Brown ran a 4.65 40-yard dash with a 1.56 10-yard split. He also recorded a 32.5″ vertical and a 9’11” broad jump as well.

Measurements are part of the drafting process but the 49ers overlook speed concerns to take a guy they can pair with “Huf” for the next five years.

Round 3, Pick 101 – RB Roschon Johnson

College: Texas

As much as the 49ers don’t need to draft a running back this year, they’re probably going to do it anyways.

San Francisco has drafted a ballcarrier in the third round the last two years (Ty Davis-Price and Trey Sermon). And while the latter is no longer on the roster and the 49ers have Christian McCaffrey, let’s do it for ole times sake.

Texas’ Roschon Johnson has the makings of a three-down back, able to run over and by defenders when he needs to. Playing four seasons in the Big 12, Johnson racked up 2610 scrimmage yards and 26 total touchdowns for the Longhorns. He also showed great durability, playing in 47 collegiate games.

The only problem: Being stuck behind Bijan Robinson on the depth chart.

While Robinson will likely be the only RB drafted in the first round, Johnson is by no means a secondary player. While not possessing elite speed (4.58 40 time), his 1.52 10-yard split is more intriguing, especially for RBs. He also posted a 10’2″ broad jump, and a six-foot, 219 pounds, that’s all you really need from a bruising back like Johnson.

Thats what the 49ers are banking on with this pick, allowing McCaffrey take a breather from time-to-time. This is a really talented RB group, and Johnson is one of the best in his class.

Round 3, Pick 102 – OT Blake Freeland

College: BYU

The 49ers need offensive line help after the departure of OLs Daniel Brunskill and Mike McGlinchey in the spring. That means general manager John Lynch will look for an alternative, cheaper offensive tackle in the draft early.

And that starts with BYU’s Blake Freeland.

Freeland is a freak athlete, recording a sub-five-second 40-time at the NFL Combine. He also produced a 1.68 10-yard split allowing him to get off the line in a hurry.

He’s a work in progress though.

Despite maintaining an 87.9 run-blocking PFF grade in 2022, he has yet to become an all-around OT, meaning he’ll need some time to develop. But at 6’8″, 302 pounds, San Francisco will take the attributes over the polish here.

Run-Game coordinator Chris Forester has another project in The Bay.

Round 5, Pick 155 – K Jake Moody

College: Michigan

Moody was one of the best kickers in college football the last two years, scoring 272 points in that time span. He was also perfect from PATs, hitting 148 in his collegiate career. Moody’s one blemish was field goal percentage in his final season, hitting only 29 of 35 field goal attempts.

That’s 82.9%, not amazing. The previous season: 92%.

If Moody wants to be a reliable kicker in the NFL for the next 10 to 15 years, he’ll need to improve on his accuracy. Besides that, the 49ers have every reason to use one of their late-round picks on the 23-year-old rookie, costing them a cheap deal for a few seasons.

Round 5, Pick 164 – TE Cameron Latu

College: Alabama

The 49ers take a tight end, but deeper in the draft than people are speculating.

Cameron Latu, 23, played four seasons for the Crimson Tide, skipping the 2020 season due to COVID-19. The Minnesotan became a valuable offensive weapon for quarterback Bryce Young, snagging 56 catches in two seasons. He also finished his collegiate career with 787 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.

Latu had a less-than-stellar Combine however, finishing 11th in tight end rankings. He also finished 13th in production for TEs, getting a score of 63.

Round 5, Pick 173 – LB Owen Pappoe

College: Auburn

Losing Azeez Al-Shaair in free agency, it’s time San Francisco finds another young & cheap linebacker to mold.

Auburn’s Owen Pappoe can fill the void seamlessly.

Pappoe has a nose for where the ball is at all times, able to locate and break on the ball-carrier quickly. His 4.3-speed helps with that, recording a 4.39 40-yard dash at the combine last month. Those numbers flash when you watch the film.

In four seasons, Pappoe racked up 256 total tackles. He also had eight sacks, 15 TFLs, seven passes defended and three forced fumbles. Playing like a bat out of hell, the Auburn alum would be a good fit for the sub-linebacker role with the Red & Gold.

Round 6, Pick 216 – DT Dante Stills

College: West Virginia 

More defensive line help for the Red & Gold.

Dante Stills, 23, was a five-year starter the Mountaineers, playing 87 games in the Big 12. He was also extremely productive, racked up 137 total tackles, 53 TFLs and 24.5. sacks. Stills also tested well at the NFL scouting combine, finishing eighth for DTs. The West Virginia native ran a 4.85 40-yard dash, with a 1.72 10-yard split.

Mainly playing on the inside, Stills has featured across the defensive line, giving him more appeal to the 49ers’ regime. San Francisco has revered versatile members of the front four, drafting both DE Drake Jackson and DL Kalia Davis last year.

Round 7, Pick 222 – DE Robert Beal Jr.

College: Florida

Round 7, Pick 247 – G Atonio Mafi

College: UCLA

Round 7, Pick 253 – OLB Cam Jones

College: Duke

Round 7, Pick 255 – CB Isaiah Bolden 

College: Jackson State

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