The San Francisco 49ers may have found their new secret weapon in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft. They chose a standout versatile offensive player, Jalen Hurd, who can affect the game in more ways than just being a receiver.
During his college football career, Hurd performed remarkably as both a Tennessee Volunteer and Baylor Bear. He will need to prove himself at the wide receiver spot to show what he can do when lined up wherever Kyle Shanahan wants him to be. He played receiver only in his last season in college.
Once Hurd provides that assurance to Shanahan that he can produce at the receiver position then it will open the door to many possibilities. Most importantly, to how Jalen Hurd can be an x-factor for the 49ers’ offense.
3. A Reliable Option in the Slot
Something that made Hurd an intriguing player to get in the draft was his production as a slot receiver.
Jalen Hurd had the sixth most slot yards of any receiver in the 2019 draft class.
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) July 18, 2019
He ranked sixth among all receivers taken in the 2019 Draft for yards coming from the slot. During his time in college he put together 1,438 receiving yards. And 921 of those yards came from him being a slot receiver. Making up for approximately 64 percent of his total yardage receiving.
Hurd has a frame that can take the punishment of being a slot receiver going over the middle and providing additional yards after the catch and after contact. It’s something that Shanahan is known for creating with the offense that he implements in getting receivers extra yards once they get the ball.
Hurd will be a welcome addition to a receiving corp that knows how to do extraordinary things when they have an open field in front of them.
Both #49ers projected starting WRs were elite returners in college.
Dante Pettis set NCAA record with 9 punt return TDs. Deebo Samuel brought back 4 kickoffs for scores.
George Kittle just set NFL record for yards after catch by TE.
All dynamic with the ball in their hands.
— Evan Silva (@evansilva) July 15, 2019
2. A Target in the Red Zone
Jalen Hurd’s combine results show that he is 6’5″ and 226 pounds. This type of size and leverage will help him greatly in red-zone situations.
It’s something that San Francisco struggled with throughout 2018. The 49ers ranked dead last in red-zone scoring percentage with a putrid 41.18 last season. That was a severe drop from their already woeful mark as the sixth-worst team in that category in 2017.
Allowing Hurd to utilitze his size and athleticism in jump-ball and inside-route situations will help San Francisco. The 49ers have had few red-zone threats over the years, but with their recent haul in the 2019 draft, they should be more confident in scoring seven points on long drives.
1. Versatility From His Time as a Running Back
The reason for Hurd switching to receiver was his large frame. During his time as a running back in college, he put together some impressive numbers rushing the ball.
He finished his college career with 2,844 rushing yards (averaging 4.5 yards per carry) and 23 touchdowns. Most of this came from his time at Tennessee when he was a running back. During that time, he rushed for 2,635 rushing yards and 20 touchdowns and provided an exceptional option out of the backfield as a receiver, not just a rusher.
That kind of versatility and talent can seperate him from the rest of the receivers once he proves himself. Once given the green light, Hurd should be able to not only get touches as a receiver, but also as a running back. Plus, with his size and frame, he should be a great option if the 49ers, in a short-yardage situation, need him to jump over the pile for a touchdown.
Jalen Hurd can affect the Niners’ offense in so many ways if given the chance. If or when he shows Shanahan that he can take over as a receiver, he should be able to show everyone why he’s worth that third-round pick.