Florida Football: 49ers writer gives insight into Ricky Pearsall's fit in San Francisco

The former wide receiver for the Gators was selected in the first round by the San Francisco 49ers
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL Draft is over, and Ricky Pearsall was the lone member of Florida Football to be drafted. Pearsall was drafted in the first round to the San Francisco 49ers, the defending NFC champions.

To get an idea of how San Francisco fans are feeling, we teamed up with our Fansided sister site Niner Noise and asked their draft guru Jeremy Wohlfart some questions on what Pearsall's journey might look like out west.

Hail Florida Hail:

Heading into the draft, was drafting a slot receiver on the radar for most 49ers fans and was Ricky Pearsall specifically a guy fans were wanting to go after?

Jeremy Wohlfart:

I think a lot depended on the plan regarding a trade for either Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel around the league, and certainly, the overall reaction was relatively poor now that it's clear neither Aiyuk nor Deebo will get traded. If a trade had happened beforehand or during the draft, I would think most fans would have been much happier with a receiver. As far as Ricky Pearsall as a first-round pick goes, I think most fans had players like Xavier Worthy, Adonai Mitchell or Xavier Legette in mind if a receiver was to be chosen. Most saw Pearsall as a reach by most, though I thought he would be picked in the early to middle second-round area after he tested so well at the NFL Combine.


Debo Samuel has caused a stink in the wake of Pearsall being drafted, and there is drama surrounding whether San Francisco will keep both him and Brandon Aiyuk. But on paper, at least from the outside, Pearsall would be in the slot and take the spot of Jauan Jennings. Are you able the shed light on what exactly the vision is moving forward in San Francisco?


Jauan Jennings is an excellent possession receiver and an excellent safety valve on third downs, but he doesn't bring the yards after the catch that Kyle Shanahan craves in his system. Now that Brock Purdy proved in 2023 that his rookie year wasn't a fluke and he can take a team to the Super Bowl, the 49ers front office smartly decided to surround him with weapons for a big run at the Super Bowl in 2024 before Purdy has to get a monster contract extension next year. With how Shanahan likes to utilize motion, I would probably say Pearsall wouldn't be strictly speaking a slot receiver as opposed to playing the role that the play requires of him whether that's as a slot receiver or motioned outside. His ability to command the middle of the field and get big chunks of yardage however makes him such an intriguing foil to what Deebo and Aiyuk do.


The 49ers came close last year to winning it all and have been on the doorstep for the past few years. How much longer do you envision the window being open for San Francisco to be a legit Super Bowl contender, and how does Pearsall impact that window?


The big question the team will face after next season is whether or not Brock Purdy can put a team on his back when he gets his big extension. Obviously 2024 will be the last season where the team can take advantage of his rookie deal to surround him with talent, and having a talent like Ricky Pearsall with him for cheap in the foreseeable future I think played a big part in the decision to draft him because it can keep that window open for longer even if Aiyuk or Deebo did eventually get traded. I expect the door to still be open for the forseeable future, but obviously that door is going to be biggest in 2024 with a weak NFC and Purdy still on his rookie deal.


What are the realistic expectations 49er fans have for Pearsall to not be considered a bust?


Unfortunately some will be impatient and demand something like 50 receptions for 600 yards and five touchdowns or something like that. Obviously that won't be happening because the 49ers like to run the ball a lot and have so many mouths to feed when they do throw the ball. I think Pearsall will just need to show up when his name is called, and show why the 49ers front office loved him enough to make sure he made his way to the Bay Area. A couple of big receptions here, a touchdown there and just keeping the cogs in the machine going should be enough for now. If Aiyuk or Deebo get traded (I know I'm repeating myself on this one, but it is a big difference if it happens), then Pearsall will have to show he can fill those cleats. For now, just building a rapport with Purdy and making the most of his chances should be enough for most fans.

We thank Jeremy for the insight. You can check out all of their coverage of the 49ers at Niner Noise.