The San Francisco 49ers might lose some ground in the draft race with their win on Sunday, but they will still have a prominent first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. The decision to trade for Jimmy Garoppolo puts them in a position to have a lot of flexibility when it comes time to make their selection.
The top of the 2018 NFL Draft could feature two or three quarterbacks going in short order. If a quarterback is there, the 49ers would be in position to deal down for a haul of picks. If not, or if they simply cannot find the right deal for their pick, they could go in a number of different directions.
Former NFL scout Bucky Brooks and Pro Football Focus each took a look at top team needs for the first round. Brooks thinks an offensive playmaker could be the right call, while PFF thinks a defensive playmaker makes the most sense.
1) San Francisco 49ers: offensive playmaker. With Jimmy Garoppolo in the fold, the 49ers can focus their efforts on upgrading the supporting cast on offense. Although a pass catcher would make sense, the team could get more bang for the buck with a dynamic running back who can excel as a runner or receiver. Considering the immediate impact Ezekiel Elliott and Leonard Fournette made on their respective squads, it's no longer taboo to take a running back in the top 10.
Edge: Even with the addition of Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall last season, the 49ers have more work to do in order to generate a more consistent pass-rush. Thomas is excellent against the run, but perhaps better suited to rush from the interior and the San Francisco four-man rush needs a classic, explosive rusher off the edge. LSU’s Arden Key and Boston College’s Harold Landry are two names to watch.
The 49ers have some building blocks in place, but they could look at almost every position and justify a selection. Once you remove quarterback from the equation, at least for the 2018 NFL Draft, there is enormous flexibility.
We saw heavy investment on defense this past year, including two first round picks. But if the 49ers can get another difference-maker for the unit, it could make sense. On the other hand, Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch will likely want to find playmakers for Jimmy Garoppolo. They do also have a ton of cap space, and they could address some prominent needs if they feel like splurging. With quarterback appearing to be off the table, free agency could shape things in a big way.