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49ers, Raiders could be competing in NFL draft again this year

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One underrated aspect of the DeForest Buckner trade is that it could, for the third straight year, leave both the 49ers and Raiders coveting the same player atop the NFL draft.

There’s compelling evidence the 49ers snatched the guy the Raiders also targeted in the first round of the past two drafts by taking Mike McGlinchey and Nick Bosa. But this time it could be the Raiders spoiling the 49ers’ plans at the draft — still scheduled for April 23 in Las Vegas, albeit without the draftniks in the audience.

After acquiring the Colts’ first pick (No. 13 overall) for Buckner on Monday, the 49ers are now scheduled to choose right after the Raiders make the 12th pick in the draft. And, as fate would have it, both of the teams’ needs seem to be aligned again.

Whereas both teams identified and chose offensive tackles (in 2018) and defensive ends (last year) to satisfy needs with their top picks in the last two drafts, this year they each seem to desire a game-changing wide receiver.

The Raiders, who were fooled badly last summer when All-Pro Antonio Brown became the antagonist and not the answer, are desperately seeking a go-to target for Derek Carr (or, if it comes to it, Marcus Mariota). Injuries or not, Tyrell Williams still seems a complementary receiver.

Meanwhile, the 49ers may be forced to prioritize receiver because of salary cap implications. Emmanuel Sanders proved an effective lead receiver after he was acquired at the trade deadline — 36 catches for 502 yards and three touchdowns and some big plays down the stretch. On the other hand, he turns 33 on Tuesday and he’s a free agent who could earn a bigger deal elsewhere than the 49ers can afford. Should Sanders not return, it would leave last year’s standout rookie Deebo Samuel and three-year veteran Kendrick Bourne as their only reliable receivers.

Fortunately for both teams, this draft is loaded with talented wide receivers. The best of the bunch, Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, may even last until it’s the Raiders’ turn to pick and perhaps turn the tables on San Francisco.

Depending on whom you talk with, draft experts and NFL scouts have Jeudy, Ruggs and Lamb ranked a bit differently but still atop the positional rankings. TCU’s Jalen Reagor, LSU’s Justin Jefferson and Colorado’s Laviska Shaunault Jr. are also seen as first-round talents, but it’s Jeudy, Ruggs and Lamb who stand out.

Superlatives have been synonymous with Jeudy, who had 77 catches for 1,163 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide last year. ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper Jr. says the Biletnikoff Award winner “can run every route and has elite ball skills” and is flat out the most talented receiver to come into the NFL since Julio Jones and A.J. Green arrived in 2011.

Given how NFL play-callers are using sub-4.4 sprinters to terrorize defenses, Ruggs is an appealing first-round target. The speedy Ruggs may have ceded the No. 1 receiver spot to Jeudy at Alabama, but with a 4.27 40 time it’s the only race he’s lost in a long time. Still, he averaged 18.6 yards per catch last season and had 18 touchdown catches the past two years.

Oklahoma’s Lamb doesn’t possess Ruggs’ speed, but he also dazzled the past two years with 25 TD catches. Lamb, who averaged 21.4 yards per grab last year, is described as an advanced route runner with outstanding hands.

It’s conceivable that even if the 49ers and Raiders both decide to take a receiver first next month, they’ll have differing opinions of which one is best. Right, Raiders fans?

(This is where we remind readers about the 2009 draft, when Al Davis inexplicably took speedy Darrius Heyward-Bey of Maryland with the No. 7 overall pick, leaving Texas Tech All-American Michael Crabtree for the 49ers to grab at No. 10).

At least the Raiders have excuses for how they lost out to the 49ers at the draft recently. Their apologists can blame a lost coin flip and an ill-timed upset win for getting one-upped by the 49ers on the last two opening nights of the draft.

The Raiders had the inside track at earning the No. 2 overall pick in the 2019 draft — and the right to take Bosa after the Cardinals chose Kyler Murray at No. 1. But they dropped to No. 4 and allowed the 49ers to leapfrog them to the second spot after the Raiders pulled off a Week 16 upset victory over the Broncos on Christmas Eve. The 49ers, Raiders and Jets all finished at 4-12, but the 49ers won the strength-of-schedule tiebreaker. Thus, the Raiders’ win over Denver effectively delivered Bosa to the 49ers.

The Raiders, like every team, had Bosa as the top-ranked edge rusher available. With the fourth overall pick, they settled for Clelin Ferrell, who was steady but not spectacular in his rookie year in Oakland.

Two years ago, the Raiders and 49ers found themselves in another tie for the 9th pick in the draft. A coin flip was needed to break this tie and Rod Woodson, who played with both teams, did the flipping at the 2018 NFL combine when the coin landed with the 49ers logo facing up.

A strong showing at the combine reportedly shot McGlinchey up on many draft boards, including San Francisco’s. The 49ers took McGlinchey with the No. 9 pick, which reportedly led the Raiders to trade down from their 10th overall pick before choosing another tackle, UCLA’s Kolton Miller, at No. 15.

Two years later, both teams are satisfied with their first-round tackles.

But the man still most pleased with how the coin landed at the 2018 combine is McGlinchey.

“It’s obviously not even a guarantee that (the Raiders) would have picked me. But that’s what the rumors were,” McGlinchey said in 2018. “I think I’m fortunate to be here. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Raiders, but I lucked into a great situation here.”

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