When the 2020 NFL draft process began, the San Francisco 49ers had little-to-no shot at landing Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb in the first round. After losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl 54, San Francisco was awarded the penultimate pick in Round 1 and nowhere near Lamb’s expected draft range.
Then came the Deforrest Buckner trade. The 49ers sent the dominant defensive lineman to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th overall pick; they’re now in Lamb’s strike zone and momentum is building for a Lamb-49ers marriage in the first round.
According to NFL.com’s recent breakdown of ideal analytics-based wide receiver fits, San Francisco and Lamb are a perfect match.
My neutral model gives Lamb the slight edge as the class’ No. 1 receiver. He receives this billing, in part, due to the fact that his tape shows the greatest ability to change direction, alter speed and adapt to where the ball is thrown, but it’s also tied to his superb skills after the catch. According to Pro Football Focus, Lamb ranked second in the nation with 26 broken tackles last season at Oklahoma. Production after contact like Lamb’s forecasts strongly to elite or above-average results in the NFL. Lamb’s strong college resume suggests he should have success on the outside and inside, as well as in baiting corners to open up space for other pass catchers. Sounds like someone Kyle Shanahan would put to tremendous use, right?
The 49ers will look to replace veteran Emmanuel Sanders, who left for greener pastures with the New Orleans Saints in free agency. Sanders’ departure leaves only Deebo Samuel as a certain starter at wide receiver and with this year’s class of pass-catchers projecting as a potentially special bunch, landing a surefire starter like Lamb in Round 1 would be a boon for Shannahan’s offense.
Lamb finished 2019 with 62 catches for 1,327 yards and 14 touchdowns.