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ESPN’s 2020 re-draft: Do the 49ers stick with Kinlaw and Aiyuk?

With the benefit of hindsight, should San Francisco have switched up their selections?

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San Francisco 49ers v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

That San Francisco 49ers received quality snaps and production from their 2020 rookie class. Defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw flashed enough to make you believe that he has the potential that warranted him to be taken so early in the draft. At the same time, Brandon Aiyuk seems poised to be a No. 1 receiver in the NFL sooner than later.

Many Niners fans preferred either CeeDee Lamb or Jerry Jeudy, but I think they’re satisfied with Aiyuk after what he showed during 2020. With the benefit of hindsight, ESPN put out a -redraft of last year’s top 64 selections. San Francisco only had the first two picks, as a trade for Dee Ford the offseason prior sent their second-rounder to Kansas City.

2020 re-draft

This time around, Washington took Justin Herbert at No. 2, though the Bengals should have selected him first if I were drafting. Chase Young and Tristan Wirfs were the following two picks, while Tua stayed at No. 5 to Miami.

The Cardinals paired Lamb with his former teammate Kyler Murray, while Justin Jefferson cracked the top-10 and went to Jacksonville at No. 9. By the time we get to No. 13, the 49ers select...Brandon Aiyuk:

The 49ers were fortunate enough to get Aiyuk with their second of two first-round picks in the real draft but it’s unlikely they’d be able to wait that long this time around. Although Aiyuk was limited to 12 games because of injury and COVID-19 protocols, he lived up to every expectation the 49ers had for him, finishing with 60 catches for 748 yards and five touchdowns. The Niners believe Aiyuk has all the makings of a foundational player for the long haul and would be more than happy to draft him all over again. — Nick Wagoner

There’s that “foundational player” term that was brought up last season.

For Aiyuk, it fits. Fair or not, San Francisco needs Aiyuk to develop into that level of player. Another perimeter threat for this offense is desperately needed. Teams won’t be taking away George Kittle any time soon, but as long as he’s on the field, Aiyuk should have plenty of space to operate for the coming seasons.

With hindsight in our back pocket, the 49ers had a chance to find a player who was more productive as a rookie than Kinlaw at No. 31 since there were no trades. Wagoner stuck with Javon Kinlaw:

The 49ers were quite pleased with how their first-round played out in the actual draft and would be again in this scenario with Kinlaw slipping back to them at the bottom of the first round. Kinlaw was up and down as a rookie but flashed enough potential that they are still strong believers in his upside. With a full season under his belt and the anticipated return of Nick Bosa, Kinlaw should have a chance for a breakout 2021 season. — Nick Wagoner

I might have gone in a different direction because of hindsight, though I do believe Kinlaw played much better than given credit for and will be just fine as a player. ‘Fine’ isn’t the first impression you want from your top pick, though.

In this hypothetical scenario, I would have selected a cornerback with the benefit of knowing how the season played out. L’Jarius Sneed or Cameron Dantzler were available. Both played very well this past season, and you’d enter 2021 without feeling the pressure to re-sign multiple cornerbacks as Sneed can play in the slot.

It’s time to put your general manager hat on. In a re-draft, are you changing up the Niners 2020 selections?