The San Francisco 49ers are a couple of weeks away from one of the most significant drafts in franchise history. The quarterback selected at No. 3 will define this draft. It feels like most fanbase is enamored with a certain Ohio State quarterback, and for a good reason, but even he gets pushback.
“You never draft quarterbacks who played at Ohio State.” These types of statements are littered all overdraft conversations. Rarely any of them hold weight, as the discussions are never apples to apples.
Today, we’ll discuss three do’s and don’ts for the Niners draft. The team is in a position where they don’t have to force a specific need. There are needs, but even a running back at the end of the third round wouldn’t be a huge surprise. Let’s start with our do’s.
Double down in the secondary. It might look good on the surface, but once we get past the multiple one-year deals, the Niners are thin and cornerback and safety after this season. There’s a risk relying on a couple of the players the team re-signed, which is even more of a reason to select more than one defensive back in this draft.
I’d also like to see the team continue to take advantage of these wide receiver classes that are loaded with talent. San Francisco has a strong core of pass-catchers, and building on strength will only make your offense more unstoppable and life easier on your No. 3 overall pick.
Plus, bet on high upside athletes along the defensive line. If the goal is to be dominant with four rushers — something general manager John Lynch has been consistent about — then that’s probably the answer to what position No. 43 overall is this year.
Draft an interior offensive lineman on day two. It may not be as pressing as needs at corner or wide receiver, but the inside of the offensive line has been an issue for too long. A young player at either center or guard would both improve the depth this year and allow the team to save money in the future.
Add depth in the secondary. While the 49ers were able to re-sign the likes of Jason Verrett, Emmanuel Moseley, and K’Waun Williams to round out their starting lineup in the defensive backfield, the depth behind them remains a question mark. Add in the fact that those three players missed 15 games combined last season, and the 49ers are a few nicks and bruises away from having another Brian Allen situation next season.
While the team hasn’t prioritized adding secondary depth via premium draft picks, it’s something they should consider in this upcoming draft.
I really wanted to say “Take Mac Jones,” but that was low-hanging fruit that I felt was a little too obvious. But the 49ers should not bank on the healthy return of Jalen Hurd to add to a young receiving corps. Hurd’s dealt with major injuries in back-to-back seasons and should be viewed as found money. If Hurd returns and plays a role this season, the 49ers should consider it as a win, but that should not stop them from adding receiving depth in another deep class of pass catchers.
Be afraid to continue to take big swings at the plate. The 49ers haven’t been conservative under the current regime, which remained true by trading up to No. 3. If you believe Trey Lance has the best chance to be a star out of all of the available quarterbacks, then take him.
If you fell in love with a player during the 2019 college season, but he opted out of the 2020 collegiate season — think Stanford’s Paulson Adebo or Washington’s Joe Tryon — don’t let that influence you. These guys didn’t forget how to play football, nor did they stop training or practicing.
The 49ers should pull the plug on drafting Day 3 tight ends. It seems as though they haven’t gotten the type of production from their “prototype,” as the team has tried to find help for George Kittle, so he doesn’t have to play every snap. Perhaps it’s time to bet on an athlete at the position.
Out-think the room. You take Justin Fields at number three, and you don’t look back. Many times the answers in the draft are complex. This is not one of those times. There is no better combination of supreme athleticism, accuracy, and pocket presence in this draft. If Fields fulfills his potential, this draft will be a massive success no matter what else happens.