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NN mailbag: How many times will the 49ers trade back in the draft?

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What’s a mailbag without a question about OBJ?

TCU v Oklahoma Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

With the NFL Combine in full effect, this week’s mailbag will be centered around the draft. No matter what the topic is, there will always be some fans who believe the San Francisco 49ers should trade Jimmy Garoppolo. One of the responses were, “trade Jimmy GarbagO and Armstead, and the 31st pick for the Bengals No. 1 overall pick so we can draft Burrow and let Shanahan coach him into a Pro Bowl quarterback and have a quarterback that can win us the Super Bowl.” This was a real sentence that someone who breathes the same air as us typed. Love the internet!

Anyway, let’s get into the mailbag and some questions.

What first-round caliber wider receiver fits Kyle Shannahan’s scheme the best? Reagor? Shenault? or a bigger body like Tee Higgins? -Nell

The first two I wouldn’t take in the top 50 picks. Jalen Reagor is a speedy receiver from TCU that will likely run a sub 4.35 40-yard dash on Thursday. When the ball is in his hands, he’s great. Reagor is also a great deep threat. It’s everything in between like intermediate routes that he needs to improve on. Laviska Shenault is a player that we see in several analysts’ top-five, but I don’t see it. The Deebo Samuel comparisons are disrespectful to Samuel. Shenault is built like a running back and is terrific with the ball in his hands. As a receiver, let’s just say he leaves a lot to be desired. After Higgins runs on Thursday, you can kiss him being at No. 31 goodbye.

Realistically, the value isn’t there at the end of the first when looking at the receivers that will be available, assuming the “top names” will be gone. That’s yet another reason the 49ers should trade back. You can get additional picks and likely the same crop of the talent pool at receiver 15 or so picks later. If Oklahoma’s Ceedee Lamb slips in the draft because he runs a 4.6 40-yard dash, don’t hesitate.

We can’t keep everyone, how many new starters will there be next year? -James

This is a great question. There’s expected to be plenty of turnovers, but will there be changes in the starting lineup? I’ll say five. There will be a new starter at free safety, cornerback, wide receiver, right guard, and defensive tackle—which is kind of a copout considering it’ll be D.J. Jones. So four, I suppose. Emmanuel Sanders reportedly wants to be back with the 49ers. The Athletic’s Matt Barrows wrote how the 49ers are probably done with the contract restructures for this cycle. That means the team is unlikely to make moves to create cap space. If Arik Armstead is a priority, that means Jimmie Ward and Emmanuel Sanders become the odd men out. That’s how I read it.

Should we trade all of our picks plus Thomas for obj? -Chris

This time last year, all we talked about was Odell Beckham Jr., who had the quietest 1,000-yard season in 2019 I can remember. Talent has never been Beckham’s issue, and I don’t buy that he’s this locker room cancer that many make OBJ out to be. Beckham’s contract is pricey. If the Niners traded for him, and would likely have to give up a first-round pick, they’d also have to pay Beckham $14 million in 2020, and $15 million a season the next three years.

The 49ers need a reliable target on the roster that you can count on with experience. Sanders is a perfect example of that. While OBJ is talented, giving up a premium draft pick and investing that type of money in him when you have a draft this deep feels like bad business.

I feel like many are falling in love with the idea of a high pick on a WR. Plenty of talent to be had throughout the draft at that spot. I feel IOL and DB should be the priority. I’m all over Gladney. Thoughts? -Adam

Adam is correct. Receiver is a fun topic that is easy for everyone to discuss. I don’t think there is any question when you look at the roster and contracts that defensive back is a bigger priority. The interior offensive line is as well, but if I’m strapped for cash and not trying to make a big splash in free agency, I let Mike Person and Daniel Brunskill duke it out to see who starts at right guard.

If Ward does walk, you have Tarvarius Moore. Do the 49ers prioritize a veteran safety or cornerback? That will tell us what position the team will target in the draft. Free agency will be fun. For all of the talk about the wide receiver class, you can find quality starters in the draft on Day 2—which is even more of a reason for the team to trade back.

Over-under on 49ers trade backs at 2.5, do you dare take the under? -Bolo

Oh, man. I’ll say over because the question isn’t limited to the first round. Let’s assume there is a trade back from No. 31 to the middle of the second round and pick up a third-round pick. Another trade down from that third-round pick to scoop up a fourth is plausible. There are endless scenarios here. If a player the team loves falls in the fifth round—where the 49ers have multiple picks—could they trade up? I think so. Because of that, I’m taking the over.