The San Francisco 49ers are settled at the quarterback position, which puts them in a strong position in the 2018 NFL Draft. The much-talked about quarterback class could result in three quarterbacks going 1-2-3, and four going in the first five or six picks. If four quarterbacks go before the 49ers, that guarantees they will get one of their top five non-quarterbacks.
SB Nation’s Dan Kadar put together his latest 2018 NFL mock draft, and he offers an intriguing scenario to the 49ers. He has Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, and Baker Mayfield going in the top three, with Josh Allen going No. 5 to the Denver Broncos. The non-QBs that are selected include DE Bradley Chubb to the Cleveland Browns at No. 4, RB Saquon Barkley to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 6, OG Quenton Nelson to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 7, and CB Denzel Ward to the Chicago Bears at No. 8.
This all drops Alabama defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick to the 49ers at No. 9. Here’s what Kadar had to say about the pick.
Ideally the 49ers may hope that Nelson slides to them, or they can trade out and target an offensive lineman like Connor Williams of Texas or Isaiah Wynn of Georgia. If they stay here and the board falls in this fashion, it becomes a best player available choice. For me, it’s Fitzpatrick just over Georgia linebacker Roquan Smith. Jimmie Ward’s fifth-year option may have been picked up, but he’s struggled to stay healthy and hasn’t been a consistent standout when he does play. Like Ward, Fitzpatrick can play a number of positions and give the 49ers flexibility.
Aside from quarterback and center, none of the 49ers offseason contracts have removed the corresponding position from the draft. Richard Sherman is likely starting this fall, but he’s not a long term option. Jerry Attaouchu is an intriguing pass rusher, but he doesn’t lock down the role. And even exercising Jimmie Ward’s fifth year option guarantees nothing at the safety position.
With a guy like Fitzpatrick, the 49ers get much needed depth in the secondary. If Ward, Jaquiski Tartt, and Adrian Colbert all stay healthy and excel, Fitzpatrick could be a great nickel option. K’Waun Williams entered the offseason as the nickel back, but the 49ers will use six defensive back sets enough that they can get creative. Adding Fitzpatrick offers the secondary a ton of versatility. This is a unit that has some intriguing versatility as is thanks to the emergence of Colbert, but Fitzpatrick would take it to a huge new level.