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The NFC Pro Bowl roster proves the 49ers' front office has an eye for talent

If you can play football at a high level, they’ll find you

Bill Parcells famously once said, “If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.” On today’s Gold Standard podcast, we discussed how the recently released Pro Bowl rosters tell us one thing: the people shopping for the 49ers’ groceries are doing a damn good job.

First, let’s just look at the raw numbers. San Francisco has six players on the NFC squad this year. Only the Eagles, Cowboys, and Chiefs have more. Now throw in the fact that the 49ers also have seven players that were named alternates for the game, and you get a pretty good picture of how talented this year’s group of players truly is.

However, how and when these players were acquired tells us a deeper story about the quality of the team’s front office and scouting staff. All told, we’re talking about 13 players in total. Let’s see where they came from:

5 came via free agency (Kyle Juszczyk, Robbie Gould, Ray-Ray McCloud, Mooney Ward, Jake Brendel)

2 came via trade (Trent Williams, and Christian McCaffrey)

1 came via first-round pick (Nick Bosa)

1 came via second-round pick (Deebo Samuel)

1 came via third-round pick (Fred Warner)

1 came via fourth-round pick (Mitch Wishnowsky)

2 came via fifth-round picks (George Kittle, Talanoa Hufanga)

So what does this tell us?

First, this front office has a very specific idea of what they’re looking for in free agency, and they mostly hit their target. Of course, that doesn’t mean every free agent signing has worked out, but there aren’t many teams that can say they’ve pulled five Pro Bowl-level players out of the free agency scrum over the past few years.

Second, this team isn’t afraid to pay a premium in a trade as long as they get a premium in return. Yes, they gave up a lot of picks for Christian McCaffrey, but CMC is leading all NFC running backs in yards from scrimmage, and the offense is scoring eight more points per game since his arrival.

Trent Williams only cost a third and a fifth-round pick, but San Francisco was willing to give up a lot more than when they initially tried to acquire him in 2019. Williams has remained the best left tackle in the league after his arrival.

Third, you need to start watching day three of the NFL Draft. When most teams are taking shots in the dark and fans have long since turned off the TV, the 49ers do their best work. Just as many Pro Bowl-type players have come from day three for this team as they did from days one and two, some would say that that might have more to do with whiffs in the early rounds than anything else, but I don’t think that’s accurate.

Look at the Niners' production from rounds four, five, six, and seven in the Kyle Shanahan/John Lynch regime. Even if you ignore the players listed above, that still leaves starting right guard Spencer Burford in round four, snub-of-all-snubs Dre Greenlaw and now-CB2 Deommodore Lenoir in round five, pre-CMC starting running back Elijah Mitchell in round six, and season-savior Brock Purdy and Mr. Third Down Jauan Jennings in round seven. Not to mention late-round picks that are now key contributors on other teams, like DJ Reed (5th round), DJ Jones (6th), and Richie James (7th).

Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, Adam Peters, Ran Carthon, Tariq Ahmad, Martin Mayhew, and others deserve praise and recognition for building one of the most complete rosters in the entire National Football League from every possible source of player acquisition.

Other topics in today’s show

Pro Bowl rosters are out, and CMC got screwed (2:52)

Jake Brendel is a Pro Bowl alternate - who saw that coming? (5:27)

Talanoa Hufanga is a well-deserved Pro Bowler (6:44)

This team’s late-round drafting has been incredible (7:27)

Dre Greenlaw will never get the recognition he deserves (9:50)

This is a trap game for the 49ers (16:22)

Brock Purdy has to protect the football (19:46)

Kyle Shanahan’s philosophy on resting players down the stretch (28:07)

How the Niners end up with the #1 seed (31:32)

Proof this defense is historically good (39:54)

Score predictions (42:19)

Levin’s holiday plans were ruined (49:00)

How Rob rescheduled his family’s entire Christmas Eve to watch the 49ers (52:46)