I can’t wait to see how the momentum shifts, or if it does at all, when Trey Lance throws in front of the 49ers next Monday.
9) John Lynch, 49ers
- Best pick: George Kittle | Round 5 (No. 146), 2017
- Worst pick: Reuben Foster | Round 1 (No. 31), 2017
Drafting Solomon Thomas No. 3 overall and Reuben Foster later in the first round of 2017 got the Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era off to a messy start, before George Kittle fell to them in the fifth round. The 2018 class included tackle Mike McGlinchey and linebacker Fred Warner, while 2019 picks Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel helped the team get to a Super Bowl. Brandon Aiyuk, a 2020 first-rounder, looks like another foundational piece. Since the 2017 misfires, the 49ers have mostly made their premium picks count.
If you’re wondering why you should listen to the 10-time Pro Bowler, it’s because he’s very familiar with Kyle Shanahan, who once served as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator. Although Thomas and Shanahan only spent one year together, they were close enough that the offensive lineman made sure to mention Shanahan during his retirement speech in March 2018.
CROCKER: “It seems tough to have the 49ers put a lot of resources into that position, especially in the first two rounds where some people want Najee Harris. I just can’t see them doing that, especially because they know if the backs they have now stay healthy, they have a nice, solid one-two punch. Now, you can’t count on them to stay healthy, because they’ve shown they just can’t do it.
“But if they were to draft a running back, I watched a lot of North Carolina wide receiver Dyami Brown, and I noticed they had two running backs, No. 25 (Javonte Williams) and No. 8 (Michael Carter), and both were just getting off. They ran all through Miami. And they both were good running outside zone. Every game, these dudes made guys miss in space and ripped off big runs.
“Now, do they run 4.3s like the 49ers running backs do now? I don’t think so. If the 49ers want somebody who plays more with that speed, they might want to go with Chuba Hubbard from Oklahoma State. Everybody thought he was going to run 4.3. I think he ran 4.5, but he plays more at a 4.3-type speed, and the 49ers might like that. He’s somebody who may drop down to the fourth or fifth round because he didn’t test great, but if you’re looking for a running back who gives you that big-play ability, I think you’d like him in the fifth round.”
John Elway is still trying to find the next quarterback to take this franchise over. It’s a search that began after Peyton Manning’s retirement following the 2015 season. Now that San Francisco has made it known that they intend on selecting a quarterback in April’s draft, Denver has an opportunity to swoop in to snag Garoppolo for a one-year trial.
The Broncos have more draft capital than their New England counterparts. As things stand right now they also have more cap space. What’s intriguing about Garoppolo’s contract is that he can be released without a significant cap hit starting in 2022. Elway and Co. adding a veteran on a team-friendly deal can pay dividends for a team with a lot of young talent. Players like Jerry Jeudy and Noah Fant would definitely benefit from an experienced presence, especially if Drew Lock continues struggling.
But being overlooked or unwanted won’t faze Jones.
“He’s always been the underdog,” Holly said in a phone interview. “That’s the role he thrives in.”
And if the 49ers are looking for someone to efficiently run a complex offense and distribute the ball to a talented group of playmakers, Dickinson and others said Jones ought to be their choice. That’s largely what earned Alabama a national title, after all.
“I like what Kyle Shanahan does,” said Dickinson, whose long list of quarterback pupils includes Troy Aikman, Bubby Brister — who was a backup with Mike Shananan’s Broncos at the time — and current 49ers quarterback Josh Johnson. “There’s a lot of creativity. He enjoys running the football. It’s a quarterback-friendly offense. In my opinion, it would be a great fit.”