Ricky Pearsall

49ers Select WR Ricky Pearsall At No. 31

With Brandon Aiyuk trade speculation swirling, the 49ers have certainly raised some eyebrows with their selection at No. 31. With the second-to-last pick of the first round, the 49ers haves selected wide receiver Florida WR Ricky Pearsall.

[RELATED: 49ers Discussing First-Round Trade Involving Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel]

Following a breakout campaign at Arizona State in 2021, Pearsall transferred to Florida in 2022. After putting up similar numbers during his first season with the Gators, the wideout took a major step forward in 2023. Pearsall finished this past season with 65 catches for 965 yards and four touchdowns, putting him firmly on the NFL map.

Pearsall was one of the more rapid risers in recent weeks. The Florida product saw his stock rise from probable Day 2 pick to surefire Day 2 pick to late first-round selection. With five WRs already being selected this evening, the 49ers didn’t want to press their luck and ended up opting for the wide receiver a bit higher than projections suggested.

With Aiyuk seeking a lucrative extension, the 49ers have continually stated that they wanted to retain the former first-round pick. However, reports from yesterday suggested that the front office was discussing the wide receiver (along with teammate Deebo Samuel) in trades.

While Aiyuk remains on San Francisco’s roster at the moment, the Pearsall pick will only add fuel to the fire. With the first round having passed, a window for the 49ers to unload Aiyuk or Samuel closed. It will be interesting to see if the team would accept Day 2 compensation for one of its standout wide receivers. With the Bengals not expected to trade Tee Higgins — his request notwithstanding — attention could be focused on Aiyuk. Then again, the 49ers have relied on their WR duo to help Brock Purdy. This Pearsall move could potentially be a bridge to the Samuel-Aiyuk duo separating in 2025.

The 49ers could extend Aiyuk and push their cap predicament to 2025, so Pearsall might not immediately step into a major role. Still, the rookie should be the clear-cut WR3 if both Deebo and Aiyuk stick around, with Jauan Jennings and Ronnie Bell representing the team’s other options at the position.

Latest On Teams Targeting WRs In First Round

We know that the Steelers have been identified as a team that could be likely to trade for a veteran wide receiver this offseason, but what about teams looking for wide receivers in the first round? A lot of focus has been placed on teams looking to draft quarterbacks, per usual, but Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post provided us with the names of a few teams targeting pass-catchers on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. La Canfora identifies the Cardinals, Bears, Colts, Bills, 49ers, and Chiefs as the likely suspects.

Some of these, we’ve heard plenty about already. At No. 4 overall, the Cardinals sit in the line of picks that are all expected to be quarterbacks, according to most mock drafts, meaning they are expected to trade down from the position. Many see them trading back to No. 6, allowing the Giants to select Daniel Jones‘ potential replacement. This would leave them in line to draft the class’s top receiver prospect, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. This could provide Arizona with a new top receiver after the departure of Marquise Brown to Kansas City.

This would require the Chargers to pass on wide receiver, a huge position of need after watching both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams depart this offseason. While it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Los Angeles select Harrison, new general manager Joe Hortiz (from Baltimore) has shown an affinity for Notre Dame prospects like Ronnie Stanley and Kyle Hamilton. Combine that with the addition of new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and connections to Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt make all the sense in the world. Roman’s run-heavy offensive mentality makes tackle a bigger priority than receiver in the first round.

Wide receiver has been seen as less of a priority for the Bears after they acquired Allen in a trade from the Chargers. Still, drafting a top receiver prospect like LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze could give projected new quarterback Caleb Williams a strong trio of targets with Allen and D.J. Moore. Chicago could pair the draft’s QB1 with a potential WR1 as ESPN’s Matt Miller tells us that there are some teams in the NFL who see Nabers and Odunze as better prospects than Harrison. The three receivers are closer than people may think on most draft boards and their order of preference could come down to scheme and fit.

In Indianapolis, the Colts would love to bring in a first-round receiver for second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson. Josh Downs and Alec Pierce were decent options behind Michael Pittman Jr., but having a true weapon across the field could really help both Richardson and Pittman. If Harrison, Nabers, and Odunze find their way off the board by the time the Colts select at No. 15, LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. could fall into their lap, though Odunze could still be available if nobody takes a flyer on him as the best player available regardless of position.

At the back end of the first round, wide receiver has become a big need for the Bills after they watched Gabriel Davis depart in free agency and traded away Stefon Diggs to the Texans. Khalil Shakir now leads the position room, and though the top four receivers aren’t expected to be available by the 28th pick, pairing Shakir with Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, FSU’s Keon Coleman, or Florida’s Ricky Pearsall could be productive.

As for the 49ers and Chiefs in the last two picks of the draft, San Francisco is a bit of surprise inclusion after recently paying Deebo Samuel and still currently denying that Brandon Aiyuk is available via trade. Still, if Aiyuk is potentially on the way out, taking flyer on Mitchell, Coleman, or Pearsall could work out.

As for Kansas City, they’ve tried their fair share of veteran free agent additions for Patrick Mahomes, and will do so again with the addition of Brown this offseason, as well as some draft picks in the second round or later. We’ve seen the Chiefs have success with smaller wide receivers with speed, so bringing in Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, Michigan’s Roman Wilson, or Texas’ Xavier Worthy could make a lot of sense.

Whoever doesn’t hear their name called on the first night of the draft shouldn’t have to wait too long. Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s latest mock draft showed the Panthers selecting McConkey with their first pick of the draft, which will be the first pick of the second round. If McConkey is already off the board, Wilson and Worthy offer similar skill sets.

It’s a deep class for wide receivers this year. Top prospects like Harrison, Nabers, Odunze, and Thomas are considered no-brainers as first-round picks. An early run on those four could see many of the pass-catchers behind them find their way into the first round, as well. Even so, there are nearly 20 wideouts with a projected third-round grade or better. Not only is this a wide receiver class with lots of talent up top, but talent throughout will benefit teams who need receivers but will have to target other positions of need first.

Latest On First-Round WR Prospects

The top of the 2024 draft board features an intriguing trio of wideouts (Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze). While the order in which they will hear their names called is in question, there will be other prospects at the position who are selected on Day 1.

In the case of many of the top options in that regard, the pre-draft process has resulted in positive developments. LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr.for instance, has long been ranked as a first-round prospect. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman notes Thomas has impressed evaluators both on and off the field, something which will help his already high draft stock. The 6-3 junior posted 1,177 yards and an FBS-leading 17 touchdowns in 2023, flashing the potential to serve as a high-end secondary WR option (as he did playing alongside Nabers) at a minimum in the NFL.

Aside from the top four receiver prospects, several others have a strong chance of landing near the back end of the first round. Two candidates on that front are Texas’ Xavier Worthy and Georgia alum Ladd McConkey. Both of those wideouts have received first-round grades from a number of NFL teams, Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports.

Worthy broke the all-time 40-yard dash record during the 2024 Combine, posting a time of 4.21 seconds. Already known to be one of the top vertical threats in this year’s strong class, Pauline notes his Pro Day helped ease concerns about his all-around game translating to the pro level. In the case of McConkey, a faster-than-expected 40 time (4.39) has also helped his stock. Regarded as an elite route runner, the 5-11, 186-pounder will likely be destined to hold a slot role in the NFL but his floor is believed to be higher than most other prospects in the class.

Around the same time that Worthy and/or McConkey are selected, Adonai Mitchell could also very well come off the board. The latter spent his first two seasons at Georgia, making just 38 catches during that span. At transfer to Texas paved the way for a larger offensive role and a sharp increase in production, though; Mitchell posted 854 yards and 11 touchdowns on 55 receptions in 2023. Depending on how teams view him relative to other WR prospects in the same range, Mitchell could be the fifth wideout taken on Day 1.

Of course, a number of highly-regarded pass-catchers will still be available on Day 2. Pauline adds that Ricky Pearsall has seen his stock rise considerably in the lead-in to the draft. The Florida alum has received an early second-round grade from “several teams,” per Pauline and he could be one of many receivers added in the top 50 selections. As teams continue to evaluate the top options at every position over the coming days, receiver remains on track to be a very popular target throughout the top of this year’s draft.