SANTA CLARA — The 49ers had their choice of all but two wide receivers in the NFL Draft when their turn came in Friday’s second round. Their selection: South Carolina’s Deebo Samuel, whose yards-after-the-catch flair could make him a favorite for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Of his 882 yards last season as a fifth-year senior, Samuel (6-foot, 210 pounds) tallied 592 yards after the catch, according to ProFootballFocus.com. That “YAC” propensity, along with a physical style, is what the 49ers need from a potential flanker to replace Pierre Garçon.
“You’ve got to have that dog in you. Having that mindset, not one person is going to bring you down, and you’re going to make every catch that’s thrown your way,” Samuel said on a conference call with Bay Area media.
Only two wide receivers went in Thursday’s first round — Marquise Brown (Baltimore Ravens) and N’Keal Harry (New England Patriots).
It’s the second straight year the 49ers have drafted a wide receiver in the second round, having taken Dante Pettis at No. 44 overall last year.
Samuel became familiar with the 49ers under Kyle Shanahan and his staff at the Senior Bowl, where Samuel recalled chatting with the third-year coach and “how to go about my business.”
When Samuel later made a pre-draft visit to Santa Clara to meet new wide receivers coach Wes Welker, he was told what he needed to improve. Samuel (6-foot, 210 pounds) was also told how he’d fit in an offense that has a glaring need at flanker but also for more play makers Garoppolo can target.
“Being able to move all over the place is going to help me a lot and also playing special teams,” Samuel said.
Samuel earned All-SEC honors with 11 touchdowns among his 62 receptions, and he added 570 yards and a touchdown on 23 kickoff returns.
A moment of silence was held in honor of late 49ers scout Reggie Cobb at the draft festivities in Nashville, and Cobb’s son, DeMarcus, then announced the 49ers’ selection of Samuel.
Before the 49ers’ selection, Friday’s second round opened with cornerback Byron Murphy going to the Arizona Cardinals, cornerback Rock Ya-Sin to the Indianapolis Colts and offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor to the Jacksonville Jaguars after a trade with the Raiders.
Check back for more on this developing story.