SANTA CLARA, Calif. - After only two wide receivers went in the first 35 picks, the San Francisco 49ers had plenty to choose from when it came time to make their second-round selection.
They opted to go for a player they had some familiarity with after coaching him in the Senior Bowl, selecting South Carolina's Deebo Samuel with the 36th overall selection in the NFL draft. They added another receiver when they selected Baylor's Jalen Hurd in the third round with the 67th pick Friday.
Only two receivers went in the first round with Baltimore taking Oklahoma's Marquise Brown 25th overall and New England using the 32nd pick on Arizona State's N'Keal Harry. No receivers went in the first three picks in the second round before the Niners pounced on Samuel to replace the departed Pierre Garcon.
"It hurts for people to tackle him," coach Kyle Shanahan said. "It doesn't hurt him as bad. That's a physical receiver, to me, and a big guy and when you have the hands like that and you have the speed. We're not playing basketball. We're not just trying to throw alley-oops under the back board and post people up and box them out and stuff. We want guys to separate, to get the ball in the hand and run."
Samuel had 62 catches for 882 yards and 11 touchdowns last season for South Carolina and is also skilled as a returner with four kick return touchdowns in his career with the Gamecocks. He has experience playing both outside and in the slot and excels with his ability to run after the catch. He forced 21 missed tackles last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
"Me personally, I just feel like you've got to have that dog in you," Samuel said. "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."
Hurd spent three seasons as a running back at Tennessee before transferring to Baylor and changing positions. He had 69 catches for 946 yards and four TDs last season. He had multiple shoulder surgeries in college and also had minor knee surgery last year.
Shanahan said Hurd is versatile enough to be drafted as a receiver, running back or tight end.
"That's a pretty unique thing to have," Shanahan said. "I don't remember being able to say that about any player I've studied before. So, it's neat to be able to do that and he can help us out in a lot of different ways."
Samuel and Hurd join last year's second-round pick Dante Pettis and speedster Marquise Goodwin as San Francisco's top receivers. The team also signed Jordan Matthews in free agency and brings back Kendrick Bourne, Trent Taylor and Richie James among others.
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