Sakamoto: 5 Players 49ers Should Watch At NFL Combine, Includes Troubled Pass Rusher


There is no question that the San Francisco 49ers are in a rebuilding year. A team that lost a plethora of talent on both sides of the ball the past couple of years, it’s no wonder they have been struggling as of late. However, all is not lost in San Francisco, as 49ers GM Trent Baalke and company currently hold the No. 7 overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

And while many of the team’s needs must be addressed on both sides of the ball, I have identified five players who I believe the team should target as the NFL scouting combine workouts begin tomorrow.


  • ILB Jaylon Smith (Notre Dame): The No. 1 player rated on my Big Board despite a torn left ACL/LCL injury, it’s Smith who I believe should still be Baalke’s top target. A rare breed whose sideline-to-sideline presence can’t be denied, Smith would be the perfect complement to All-Pro ILB NaVorro Bowman as the two would wreak havoc, while providing the best 1-2 punch at the inside linebacker position in the NFL. (Smith will not participate in any drills/workouts during combine as he’s still recovering from leg injury).


  • ILB Myles Jack (UCLA): Should Baalke pass up on the best defensive player in this year’s draft, look for them to turn their attention to this Pac-12 talent. Another highly talented inside linebacker with the skill set to set himself on an island in coverage, Jack could very well be the ‘jack of all trades’ for San Francisco. A two-way player as Jack also starred at running back, don’t be surprised if Baalke targets him at No. 7 as his versatility alone is something Baalke covets.


  • T Ronnie Stanley (Notre Dame): While RT Anthony Davis has openly said via social media that his NFL comeback is imminent, the fact remains he has yet to file for reinstatement, leaving Baalke to go in another direction. The 49ers clearly have a nice rising prospect in second-year RT Trent Brown but for them to have better success in 2016 they need more help and Stanley seems like the best fit. If the 49ers do nothing in the off-season to land a free-agent like RT Mitchell Schwartz, look for Baalke to go offensive lineman in the first-round as he drafted two offensive lineman in the first-round back in 2010.


  • WR Corey Coleman (Baylor): One player who is going to shoot up draft boards based on his positional drills and vertical is Coleman. Regarded by many as the No. 2 overall prospect in this year’s NFL draft, I actually have Coleman rated higher than Ole Miss WR Laquon Treadwell. Coleman’s rare combination of size, speed, and athleticism are enough to make any scout impressed. A player who models his game after Steelers WR Antonio Brown and Ravens WR Steve Smith, I believe that Coleman would be the ideal fit in HC Chip Kelly’s offense as he can take some pressure off of WR Torrey Smith as the primary go-to receiver.


  • OLB Noah Spence (Eastern Kentucky): Hey may not be the consistent double-digit sack artist year in and year out but make no mistake, Spence is by far this year’s cream of the crop, as far as edge rushers go. A talented player with red flags, as Spence was dismissed from the Big Ten due to his addiction to ecstasy, he has since been a force playing for Eastern Kentucky. In 2015, Spence recorded a team-high 22.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks while earning his college degree. A non-stop motor with a high football IQ, the 49ers could land Smith at No. 7 or trade down and still land his services depending on if there is a run on quarterbacks.
Ryan is the Founder/CEO of, 49ers Beat Writer, Live Game Day Correspondent for Bleacher Report and member of Pro Football Writers of America. Born and raised in San Jose, he also graduated from San Diego State University. His work has been featured on NFL Network, 95.7 The Game, National Football Post, Sports Illustrated, FanSided Network, ESPN Radio, CBS Sports 810, and NBC Bay Area News. For more information, please contact him via email at or call him at (408) 622-0996.