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Three players the 49ers could target after their fifth-year option was declined

John Lynch has been consistently aggressive as the 49ers’ GM. 13 players from the 2017 draft class had their options declined, here are three San Francisco may look at.

San Francisco 49ers v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers have done an excellent job of finding players that fit their scheme in the last two offseasons. Bringing in Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Kwon Alexander are easy examples, but Daniel Brunskill, Ben Garland, and Dre Greenlaw are even better ones. One thing that’s clear is general manager John Lynch is not afraid to be aggressive. We saw that when he traded for Emmanuel Sanders midway through the year last season, and DeForest Buckner this offseason, as well as finding a last-minute replacement for Joe Staley.

Recently, the 2017 draft class had half of the players selected in the top-10 see their fifth-year option declined. Could we see another scenario where Lynch makes a pre or midseason trade for a player with one year left in his deal? Here are three options the 49ers may consider.

Edge rusher, Takkarist McKinley, Atlanta

McKinley was selected in the first round by the Falcons the season Kyle Shanahan was named the Niners head coach. We still can’t start this list with anyone but a Falcon. San Francisco was rumored to have Dee Ford on the trading block earlier this offseason. Whether that’s true or not, the 49ers could be looking to get out of Ford’s contract after this season if he can’t stay healthy.

McKinley is a significant drop-off from Ford as a player. On this defense, everyone gets a bump in performance, though. McKinley wouldn’t cost much as he hasn’t done enough to warrant a big contract. His 2019 isn’t far off from Ford’s, though. From a production standpoint, at least. McKinley finished with four sacks in 2019, ten QB hits, and 19 pressures on 298 pass-rushing snaps. Ford rushed the passer 252 times and finished with eight sacks, three QB hits, and 22 pressures. McKinley could be that “other” edge rusher the 49ers are looking for right now, and eventually replace Ford if he pans out down the line.

Malik Hooker, free safety, Indianapolis

Hooker is easily the most popular player and still fresh in a lot of fans’ minds from the draft. Draftniks thought Hooker would be the next Ed Reed. That was unfair to him. Hooker has untapped potential, but it’s always been “almosts” and “what ifs” with the former Buckeye. Also, he hasn’t played a full season in three years. Do you want to, in this scenario, replace a free safety that couldn’t stay healthy with another safety that struggles to stay on the field? The Colts just drafted a safety in the third round, so the pressure is on Malik to perform.

If Hooker is healthy, he’d bring a level of playmaking that Jimmie Ward doesn’t. That said, Hooker also gives up his fair share of plays. A popular name, but I’d be out on him.

Gareon Conley, CB, Texans

I’ve seen the John Ross floated around. Shanahan would have a field day with him. I’m going with another Buckeye and a bigger position of need. The 49ers don’t have depth at cornerback in the future, or even starters when you look ahead. Conley isn’t going to wow you, but he’s a talented player that’s worth rolling the dice on. Conley could be a player that takes the spot of K’Waun Williams in the slot if he chooses not to re-sign. Conley’s success rate was 1% higher than Richard Sherman’s in 2019. As with most cornerbacks, you’re going to look better when you have the Niners defensive line rushing the passer. Conley would be a safe, cheap option that can help right away. Plus, it’s Bill O’Brien.

Here is the list of players from the 2017 NFL Draft that had their fifth-year option declined:

  • Mitchell Trubisky, QB (Bears, No. 2)
  • Solomon Thomas, DE (49ers, No. 3)
  • Leonard Fournette, RB (Jaguars, No. 4)
  • Corey Davis, WR (Titans, No. 5)
  • John Ross, WR (Bengals, No. 9)
  • Haason Reddick, LB (Cardinals, No. 13)
  • Malik Hooker, S (Colts, No. 15)
  • Garett Bolles, OT (Broncos, No. 20)
  • Jarrad Davis, LB (Lions, No. 21)
  • Charles Harris, DE (Falcons, from Dolphins, No. 22)
  • Gareon Conley, CB (Texans, No. 24):
  • Takkarist McKinley, DE (Falcons, No. 26)
  • Reuben Foster, LB (Redskins, No. 31)

Is there any player you’d like to see San Francisco go after?