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NFL evaluator: If the 49ers knew earlier that Staley was retiring, do they not trade Buckner?

Plus, a look at seven players who were selected with the 49ers original draft choices

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Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

For those that don’t know, the San Francisco 49ers didn’t draft at any of their original selections during the NFL Draft. Here is who their original selections were drafted by and the player:

Vikings - CB Jeff Gladney
Chiefs - LB Willie Gay
Broncos - McTellvin Agim
Jaguars - CB Josiah Scott
Vikings - K.J. Osborn
Eagles - Prince Tega Wanoghoo
Bucs - Raymond Calais

Someone is sure to bring those names up a couple of years down the road if the Niners draft class doesn’t pan out.

The Athletic’s Mike Sando spoke to league coaches, executives, and evaluators around the league to discuss each team’s draft. Here is what the NFL is saying about the 49ers:

For the 49ers, this draft process was about resolving a contract dilemma involving star defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, adding another offensive piece for coach Kyle Shanahan and securing a successor to retiring left tackle Joe Staley. There were tradeoffs. Buckner’s departure by trade returned the 13th overall pick, used for replacement Javon Kinlaw after a one-spot trade down, while enabling the team to direct scarce salary resources elsewhere, notably for re-signing fellow defensive lineman Arik Armstead. The picture brightened when San Francisco, operating in a climate that made player trades infrequent, acquired left tackle Trent Williams from Washington for a fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-rounder.

“If the 49ers knew earlier that Staley was retiring, do they not trade Buckner?” an evaluator asked.

It’s an interesting point to consider, but the decision on Buckner looked like a choice between one defensive lineman (Buckner) or another (Armstead, who did sign an extension).

“Buckner cost so much more than Armstead in guaranteed money and they could get a first-round pick for Buckner, which they could not have gotten for Armstead,” an exec said. “They basically got Armstead and Jimmie Ward signed for what Buckner cost and got a first-rounder on top of it, so that was the appeal there.”

The question is whether San Francisco drafted too much for need by selecting Kinlaw instead of Wirfs. As one exec put it, the 49ers essentially traded Wirfs and the 31st overall pick for Kinlaw and Aiyuk. Their ability to acquire Williams from Washington does alter the equation, but if Wirfs winds up being far better than Kinlaw, a “good job manipulating the board” won’t feel quite the same.

“I do like what the Niners did,” an exec said. “You trade a future third and a fifth for Trent Williams and use Kinlaw as the Buckner replacement and trade back up to get Brandon Aiyuk, which should be great, another Deebo Samuel type for that Shanahan offense. Basically, they trade down one spot from 13, which allowed them to trade up to get Aiyuk. Good job manipulating the board and getting three starters.”

Everyone wants the Buckner situation to be a one for one, and all of the information we’ve gotten points to the contrary. Buckner wanted Aaron Donald money and was not prepared to move off that stance, so San Francisco did what any logical team would; sell high. Throwing Staley in the mix is asking for too many hypotheticals and “what if” moments.

Every team always says they’re drafting for the best player available/value, and every year it turns out to be their biggest needs. As for the exec comparing Kinlaw and Wirfs, you’re ignoring the Niners other first-rounder. If Aiyuk ends up better than Kinlaw and Wirfs, then what? In San Francisco’s case, they replaced their two biggest needs, and are counting on a few young players to take the next step in their development so the team can return to the big game.

The goal is to come out of the draft with starters. If Solomon Thomas were a competent starter, the 49ers would have had a difficult decision to make about his fifth-year option, and there wouldn’t be talks about Thomas being a bust. It looks as if the Niners will come out of this draft with three starters that can contribute right away. Not many other teams can say that.