The San Francisco 49ers are seemingly at a crossroads. Jimmy Garoppolo is expected to be traded before the season starts, and the bombshell of Deebo Samuel’s trade request leaves plenty of questions surrounding their offense. As things stand right now, the 49ers do not hold a first-round pick. But assuming they can trade either or both of Samuel or Garoppolo before the draft kicks off this week, it’s fair to believe that the five-time Super Bowl champions will acquire a pick somewhere in the first round.
As mentioned, Samuel’s trade request is infinitely more damaging to the Niners, at least schematically. Samuel requested the trade so as to not be used in the backfield on just over 20% of snaps like he was in his presumably final 11 games in the Bay Area. In order to replace this, the 49ers need to grab a receiver who can create yardage from space anywhere on the field, even if they don’t use him in the backfield like Samuel.
The obvious answer to this is drafting Ohio State standout Chris Olave, and here are three reasons why.
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Chris Olave Is Best 49ers Fit In 2022 NFL Draft
Olave has always been known as lightning quick on the field, and he demonstrated that for all to see at the combine, posting a 4.39 40-yard dash, good for eighth-fastest among all wide receivers attending the event. He’s also the fastest with a consensus first-round grade on him. This also puts Olave’s time almost a full tenth of a second faster than Deebo Samuel’s time when he was at the combine, which was a 4.48.
This kind of speed allows the former Buckeye to create space where there should be none and thusly exploit it when it opens. At Ohio State, this skill set was most often used down the field to complement CJ Stroud’s big arm, but Kyle Shanahan could definitely do different things if he can bring Olave to Levi’s Stadium. The speed is there to use him in the slot early on, but Shanahan would likely feel the freedom to move Olave all over the field.
Chris Olave played 38 games as an Ohio State Buckeye, setting records along the way. Across who knows how many snaps and loads of targets, Olave dropped a pass a grand total of eight times. Just eight! In an age where a slight case of the drops is often overlooked due to other talent, Olave’s lack of issues in this department stands as a testament to his abilities.
To put this in perspective, through his career so far, Deebo Samuel has 22 drops and had 10 last year alone, meaning the 49ers star dropped the ball more in one season than Olave did in the last four seasons combined.. That’s just incredible, and Olave has the other measurables to really make a big difference in the Bay Area.
3. Route Running
This is perhaps the best area of Olave’s game. He truly treats running routes as an art form, and he paints his canvas with the expertise of someone gifted with true talent, mixed with great dedication.
During Olave’s time in Columbus, he was asked to run every route in the tree, and he flawlessly executed almost every single one of them. Possibly the best route runner in his class, Olave is able to find separation at all levels of the defense purely based on technique. When up against a zone, few receivers in the class are talented enough to find the soft spot and get open quickly quite the same way Olave is able to do so. For CJ Stroud in 2021, it must have felt like there were fewer moments where Olave wasn’t open than when he was.
This ability would make Olave a great fit to help young 49ers quarterback Trey Lance.