We will ramp up our NFL draft coverage with the NFL Combine a week away. The San Francisco 49ers needs heading into the offseason is right guard, cornerback, then possibly safety, wide receiver, and edge rusher. In CBS Sports’ latest Mock Draft, the Niners selected
Wisconsin’s edge rusher Zack Baun:
PROSPECT RNK 45th
POSITION RNK 4th
I know the 49ers have plenty of talent all over their defensive front seven, but I don’t think that will stop them from improving a strength of the team from last year to give them depth and options moving forward.
One of the biggest issues and decisions teams have to make is drafting a position of need or drafting the best player available. We don’t know what the 49ers “big board” looks like, but if they love Baun, and he’s No. 45 on their board, look for John Lynch to move out of the first round. That’d be an ideal scenario if Baun is indeed their guy. Teams reach for need far too often, and it rarely ends up as they want it to.
I try and find Mock Drafts that have new names, so we’re not going to talk about the same players over and over. I’ve never watched Baun play, but PFF has him as the only draft-eligible edge rusher with 100+ coverage snaps. It sounds good, but if I’m taking a pass rusher in the first round, he better be able to get after the quarterback. Fred Warner, Kwon Alexander, and Dre Greenlaw provide enough depth in coverage at the second level. As far as their grades go for Baun, he had an 89.9 grade, and 91.2 was rushing the passer. That’s good news. Baun finished the season with 12.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. He also had an interception returned for a touchdown, two passes defended, and two forced fumbles. Baun’s box scores are impressive. There were six games where he had at least two tackles for loss.
This is all dependent on what the team does with Arik Armstead. If he’s franchised and traded, like Kansas City did with Dee Ford, that opens up a hole and a glaring need on the edge. It also makes you worse in two spots. Armstead plays on the edge during early downs and kicks inside when the 49ers are healthy and go into their sub-package look. There aren’t many players in football that can play at the level Armstead can play at both spots. So while the move saves the 49ers money, they’d almost assuredly take a step back without Armstead on the roster.