The San Francisco 49ers have their sights set on free agency beginning on March 13 and the 2019 NFL Draft beginning on April 25. Draft Network analyst Kyle Crabbs released his latest 7-round mock NFL Draft, projecting all six picks for general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan. Let’s take a look at the selections and how they fit on the 49ers’ roster.
Round 1, Pick 2: Josh Allen, EDGE, Kentucky
Prior to 2018, the 49ers invested three consecutive first-round picks into the defensive front with the selections of Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas. Of the three, Buckner has developed into the defense’s most reliable weapon, generating 12 sacks from the interior last season. But the unit has underwhelmed as a whole and the 49ers still lack an edge rusher to complement the interior investments. With Ohio State’s Nick Bosa going No. 1 overall to the Arizona Cardinals, Josh Allen is the next best thing:
The 2017 selection of Solomon Thomas has left the 49ers sorely missing in the outside pass rush department. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but ignoring Thomas’ pedestrian potential on the boundary is only going to further complicate the matter. The 49ers need help here.
Why not Kentucky’s Josh Allen? He has prototypical size, explosiveness, length and heaven forbid he develops into a more consistent pass rusher, he’s got a future at off-ball linebacker that would be worth exploring. Allen brings multiple avenues to success…most importantly he can be a big time, impact pass rusher.
Allen (6 feet, five inches, 260 pounds) is tailor-made for defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s defense. He possesses the speed and athleticism to function as the SAM linebacker on base downs, while rushing the passer in sub-packages and obvious passing situations. In 2018, Allen racked up 88 total tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 17 sacks, five forced fumbles and four pass breakups at Kentucky. The 49ers’ selection of Allen represents a combination need and value at No. 2 overall.
Round 2 - Pick 36: Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, S, Florida
Safety is among the 49ers’ most depleted position groups, fielding eight different combinations in 2018. Starting duo Adrian Colbert and Jaquiski Tartt struggled during the season before both landed on injured reserve. The unit is need of upgrades.
Gardner-Johnson can play the nickel and he can start at either safety spot and I’m confident he’d be an upgrade. No player improved more from 2017 to 2018. Period. Gardner-Johnson played like a man possessed in 2018 and his blend of quickness, explosiveness and versatility would make him a welcomed piece to any secondary.
Gardner-Johnson (6 feet, 210 pounds) totaled 71 tackles in 2018, along with nine tackles for loss, three sacks, four interceptions and two pass breakups. Saleh could insert Gardner-Johnson at free safety and have an immediate upgrade at yet another position of need for the 49ers.
Round 3 - Pick 67: Jakobi Meyers, WR, NC State
The 49ers aren’t expected to retain veteran Pierre Garçon after two disappointing seasons, leaving an already lackluster receiving corps in need of further upgrade. Former undrafted free agent Kendrick Bourne’s 42 receptions for 487 yards were enough to lead the group. Meyers totaled 92 receptions, 1,047 yards and four touchdowns in 2018 for NC State. At 6 feet, 2 inches, and 210 pounds, Myers would provide quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo with a bigger target among a group of smaller receivers.
Round 4 - Pick 98: Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State
Cornerback is another position in which the 49ers are dangerously thin. Opposite Richard Sherman, second-year starter Ahkello Witherspoon struggled with the added attention. His turbulent 2018 ended on injury reserve with a knee injury late in the season and was replaced by rookie Tarvarius Moore in a performance that was inconsistent at best. Layne (6 feet, 3 inches, 185 pounds) would immediately compete for a starting role. Made in the mold of the 49ers’ taller and longer corners, Layne totaled 44 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 15 pass breakups and an interception in 2018.
Round 6 - Pick 163: Demarcus Christmas, DL, Florida State
In addition to Garçon, the 49ers are also expected to part ways with defensive lineman Earl Mitchell. The veteran played most of his snaps during base downs in a more traditional nose tackle role opposite the center. D.J. Jones is expected to take up Mitchell’s role, but the 49ers will still need to add young talent into the rotation. Christmas (6 feet, 4 inches, 305 pounds) totaled 28 tackles and three tackles for loss in 2018.
Round 7 - Pick 193: Martez Ivy, OT, Florida
The 49ers drafted tackle Trent Brown in the seventh-round of the 2015 draft. He became a standout starter for the 49ers before being traded to the New England Patriots last offseason in exchange for a third-round pick. He’s expected to garner a significant payday come free agency. Like Brown, seventh-round picks are often meant to be players with more upside than production. This is a similar approach in Ivy, a former 5-star recruit who measures in at 6 feet, five inches, and 305 pounds.