49ers draft wide receiver Ricky Pearsall at No. 31 in the first round



SANTA CLARA — Offensive players flew off NFL draft boards Thursday night, including one onto the 49ers’ roster, which still includes Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and every other offensive starter from last season’s Super Bowl heartbreak.

Once their turn arrived at No. 31, the 49ers selected wide receiver Ricky Pearsall, who flourished at Florida the past two seasons after starting his college career at Arizona State, where Aiyuk was his 2019 teammate.

Pearsall figures to best serve as a slot receiver on a corps that, for now, includes Aiyuk, Samuel, Jauan Jennings, and the recently re-signed Trent Taylor.

Thus, the draft’s ending resembled its start: only offensive players were taken in the first 14 picks. The 49ers’ offensive choice came without the same pressing concerns that’s engulfing their NFL challengers.

After all, the Niners secured their franchise quarterback two years ago in Brock Purdy, albeit with the 262nd and final pick. Plus, the 49ers have every other offensive starter under contract from last season, when they spawned the second-most yards and third-most points en route to the Super Bowl, where they got outscored 25-22 in overtime to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Rather than trade Aiyuk, the 49ers’ brass is, thus far, staying true to their word and keeping their leading wide receiver, presumably with a yet-to-be-consumated contract extension. He’s entering the final season under his rookie deal, a $14.1 million team option that is roughly half the market rate for a top-tier receiver.

This draft saw seven wide receivers go in the first round, and three were taken in the top 10: Marvin Harrison Jr. (Arizona Cardinals, No. 4 overall), Malik Nabers (New York Giants, No. 6), and Rome Odunze (Chicago Bears, No. 9). Brian Thomas went at No. 23 to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Xavier Worthy went at No. 28 to the Chiefs, and the Carolina Panthers traded up to select Xavier Legette at No. 32, one spot after the 49ers opted for Pearsall.

Aside from those five wide receivers, the first round saw nine offensive linemen, six quarterbacks, five defensive ends, three cornerbacks, one defensive tackle and Napa-bred tight end Brock Bowers among those taken before the 49ers’ choice at No. 31.

This also was the first draft since 2021 when quarterbacks went with the first three picks: Caleb Williams (Bears), Jayden Daniels (Commanders), and, Drake Maye (Patriots). Three more were snatched up in the Top 12: Michael Penix (Falcons) in stunning fashion at No. 8 overall, J.J. McCarthy (Vikings) at No. 10, and, Bo Nix (Broncos) at No. 12.

Not only did that run on quarterbacks push down players at other positions on draft boards, it surely reminded the 49ers how peaceful it is to have Purdy, who passed for a franchise-record 4,280 yards last season after throwing-elbow surgery last March.

Infamously, the 49ers thought they had their man in 2021, when they last drafted in the first round and selected quarterback Trey Lance at No. 3 overall. That spot cost them a trade package to Miami involving first-round picks from 2021-23. Lance followed Trevor Lawrence (Jaguars) and Zach Wilson (Jets) off the draft board, then after two faint seasons, the 49ers shipped him to the Dallas Cowboys last August for a fourth-round draft pick.

The 49ers didn’t make their initial pick in the previous two drafts until the second round in 2022 (defensive end Drake Jackson) and the third round last year (safety Ji’Ayir Brown). Other first-round picks since coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch arrived in 2017: defensive tackle Solomon Thomas (2017), linebacker Reuben Foster (2017), right tackle Mike McGlinchey (2018), defensive end Nick Bosa (2019), defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw (2020), and Aiyuk (2020).

Now Pearsall (6-foot-1, 189 pounds) joins a franchise that is coming off a Super Bowl overtime loss, but one still poised to return to that championship stage Feb. 9, when Super Bowl LIX is played in New Orleans. Over the past five seasons, the 49ers have reached the Super Bowl twice and the NFC Championship Game four times.

Pearsall is a Phoenix native who grew up in the suburb of Chandler, near Purdy’s hometown of Queen Creek. After attending Corona del Sol High School in Tempe, Pearsall attended Arizona State for three seasons before transferring to Florida for the past two seasons.



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