NFL Draft Betting: Are the 49ers Looking For Protection With Their Initial Pick in 2024?

Gabriel Santiago
Gabriel Santiago@gps_onthemic
NFL Draft Betting: Are the 49ers Looking For Protection With Their Initial Pick in 2024?

After a devastating postseason loss, the San Francisco 49ers are exploring all opportunities to return to the promised land. Stop me if you've heard that before.

Notably, the 49ers are fresh off losing a second Super Bowl in four years to the Kansas City Chiefs. For the 2024 NFL Draft in Detroit, that means San Francisco is in possession of the 31st overall pick.

Looking back, the Niners have not made a first-round selection since trading up for quarterback Trey Lance in 2021. Incidentally, their initial 2024 pick will come in the penultimate spot after San Francisco produced another dominant campaign on the gridiron.

It is not going out on a limb to claim that the 49ers currently boast one of the league's most dynamic rosters. At numberFire, San Francisco -- the reigning NFC champion -- is ranked (12.36 nERD) as the pinnacle team in the NFL.

Still, talent windows can close extremely fast in this league. From there, just about every lineup in every NFL city has personnel groupings that can be improved. As for the Niners, head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch are on the job in this regard.

Amongst the NFL, San Francisco currently has what is considered the "new black": a Pro Bowl quarterback playing on a rookie deal. Entering only his third season, signal-caller Brock Purdy has shown incredible poise through any and all environments.

Before Purdy is due a new contract, you can assume the 49ers would like to strike while the iron is hot. Knowing that, what specific football position will San Francisco take with their initial pick of 2024?

FanDuel Sportsbook has NFL Draft odds available for which position a wide range of teams will take with their first pick. Let's look at the Niners' odds and which position seems like the best bet.

All NFL odds via FanDuel Sportsbook.

NFL Draft Odds

Position of San Francisco's First Pick
FanDuel Sportsbook Odds
Offensive Lineman-115
Defensive Lineman/Edge+400
Wide Receiver+400
Tight End+10000
View Full Table

Offensive Lineman (-115)

Entering 2024, the 49ers employ a stacked starting lineup at the skill positions. That supports FanDuel Sportsbook's market here, which shows an offensive lineman as the odds-on favorite to be San Francisco's first pick of the upcoming draft.

Going for an O-lineman with the 31st overall pick makes complete sense if you are the Niners. They've had comforts of stellar left tackle play for quite some time, dominating behind Joe Staley for a dozen years followed by the All-World Trent Williams. With Williams turning 36 this summer, San Francisco would be wise to eye a bookend successor.

To be clear, a selection of "Offensive Lineman" at FanDuel Sportsbook does not limit winnings to tackles only; guards and centers are also included. From there, the 49ers could absolutely use another mauler in the trenches. In 2023, Pro Football Focus scored just one San Francisco O-lineman in the top 40, which was obviously Williams at 92.5 overall.

San Francisco likes their starting guards with Aaron Banks on the left side and Jon Feliciano on the right. Both players offer pro-level size and strength, but both men also missed time due to injury at critical moments. Notably, Feliciano was forced out of Super Bowl LVIII with a pectoral injury. From there, pressure through the right side was a tragic theme for the Niners.

According to PFF's big board, we could see as many as eight offensive tackles taken in the opening round. Barring any trades, the 49ers will have talent at that spot available to them when pick No. 31 rolls around. Perhaps S.F. selects Tyler Guyton of the Oklahoma Sooners. "Big Trent" might be excited about coaching up a fellow tackle from OU.

For the record, 2018 is the most recent year that the 49ers drafted an offensive lineman (tackle Mike McGlinchey) with their first draft pick.

Cornerback (+400)

After O-line, the defensive backfield is San Francisco's most troubled position group. From there, it can be argued that the weakest secondary unit is on the perimeter with the cornerbacks.

Similar to offensive tackle, the 2024 NFL Draft is flush with talented defensive backs. Naturally, the 49ers will not be able to select any of the top positional names from pick No. 31. Assuming they do not trade up, ballhawks like Terrion Arnold and Quinyon Mitchell will surely be out of San Francisco's reach.

If speedy corners Nate Wiggins (Clemson Tigers) or Max Melton (Rutgers Scarlet Knights) are available when the Niners are on the clock, I don't expect Shanahan and Lynch -- a Hall of Fame defensive back in his own regard -- to let playmakers like that slip by. At the 2024 NFL Combine, Wiggins ran the 40-yard dash in 4.28 seconds (second-fastest of all participants) while Melton showcased extraordinary jumping abilities (40.5-inch vert/11'4" broad).

According to draft analyst Chad Reuter's latest mock draft, the 49ers are positioned to take Melton 31st overall. Interestingly, FanDuel Sportsbook has "cornerback" priced at four-to-one odds in this market. That sort of plus-money listing could be justification enough to take a chance on a corner going to Santa Clara with San Francisco's first pick.

The Niners could be looking for help opposite All-Pro corner Charvarius Ward. Currently, Deommodore Lenoir starts at the spot for San Francisco. Last year, Ward and Lenoir were both ranked within the top-25 cornerbacks at PFF. However, having depth on the outside -- or in the nickel -- is paramount in the NFL.

Defensive Lineman/EDGE (+400)

Here is a play that has value when you consider historical context. Dating back to 2015, the 49ers have selected a defensive lineman or edge rusher with their first draft pick in six separate seasons. For S.F., that is the most of any single position group through that span.

In a more recent timeframe, the current Shanahan/Lynch regime has used the 49ers' initial draft selection on a player from this positional category four times in seven years. As noted, the NFL franchise in Northern California has gone without an opening-round pick in back-to-back seasons.

Simply, the Niners' brass has displayed a tangible zeal when it comes to drafting defensive linemen; Drake Jackson, Javon Kinlaw and 2022 DPOY Nick Bosa are all recent examples of this. Being that Kinlaw singed with the New York Jets last month (along with Arik Armstead's departure), perhaps San Francisco elects to address that void via that draft.

As an elephant in the room, the 49ers already have a few elephants in the room. In all seriousness, the D-line room in Santa Clara is packed with both size and talent. Between Bosa, Jackson, Javon Hargrave, Maliek Collins, Leonard Floyd and Kevin Givens, a majority of the on-field reps are already accounted for. However, the defensive line is another unit where you simply can't have too much depth.

Right now, "defensive lineman/edge" is actually tied with "wide receiver" (+400 odds) in this market at FanDuel Sportsbook. Being that S.F. still employs athletes like Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk, George Kittle and Jauan Jennings, I find the latter scenario unlikely. Also, the 49ers have not selected a receiver with their initial draft pick dating back to 2012 (A.J. Jenkins).

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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.