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What if the ‘best player available’ is a defensive tackle?

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The 49ers have some questions to answer along the defensive line heading into the 2019 NFL Draft.

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The vast majority of mock drafts for this offseason will feature the San Francisco 49ers making some familiar moves. Edge rusher Josh Allen will be a regular pick. If a mock offers some trading, we might see Edge rusher Nick Bosa slip to No. 2, or maybe the 49ers move down. Otherwise, we might see cornerback Greedy Williams and apparently defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

Draft analyst Dane Brugler decided to dive into the mix with Quinnen Williams in his latest 2019 NFL mock draft for The Athletic. He had Nick Bosa going No. 1, and had this to say about Williams going to the 49ers.

Ideally, the 49ers will be targeting an edge rusher with this pick, but Williams’ ability to create interior disruption will make him tough to pass up. At such a young age, he shows the unique ability to interchangeably use his gifts to defeat blocks and live in the opponent’s backfield. With high draft picks, the goal should be to find impact players and Williams is special — the 49ers shouldn’t overthink it.

A perpetual question when it comes to the NFL Draft is how much a team should focus on the best player available. Outside of the quarterback position, do the 49ers look for the absolute best player they can find, or do they balance it more with a need? Whether they draft Allen, or Quinnen or Greedy Williams, they’ll be getting a player with huge potential. One question is how much better Williams may or may not be than Allen. If the 49ers decide they’re close enough, Allen would seem to be the more logical choice.

The follow-up question is what the 49ers will be doing with their interior line. DeForest Buckner isn’t going anywhere. Arik Armstead is entering the fifth year of his rookie contract and the 49ers have a decision to make before the start of the new league year on March 13. His fifth year option will become fully guaranteed at that point. The 49ers can afford it, but they might decide it’s worth looking in another direction, or maybe they’ll try and negotiate a contract extension that lowers the cap hit.

And then of course, there’s Solomon Thomas. The 49ers finally started getting him inside on nickel downs, but we don’t know what their plan is moving forward. Thomas has been solid on the edge against the run, but it wasn’t until he got inside on passing downs that we started to see more success. If the 49ers plan on sticking with him and Buckner inside, do they add another defensive tackle in Quinnen Williams?