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Gold Standard: Will the 49ers find a way back into the first round of the draft?

History overwhelmingly says they will

Now that the 2021 season is officially in the books, the eyes of the Faithful turn to the offseason tent pole events - the Combine, free agency, and the draft. We’re all aware by now that the 49ers don’t have a pick in the first round until 2024 - but will it stay that way? Levin Black and I discussed that and more on today’s Gold Standard podcast.

Speaking purely from a statistical standpoint, it’s far more likely that the 49ers end up with two first-round picks than they don’t make one at all. Since 2000, the 49ers have made multiple first-round selections seven times. Conversely, in that time, they’ve never had a year without a first-round draft choice.

In fact, to find the last time the 49ers didn’t pick a player in round one of the draft, you have to go all the way back to 1996. San Francisco traded that pick away the year before so they could move up from number 30 to number 10 in order to select (gulp) wide receiver JJ Stokes. They actually gave up two first-round picks in the deal, plus a third-round pick, plus a fourth-round pick!

(Luckily for the 49ers, they drafted a little-known wide receiver out of Tennessee-Chattanooga in the third round in 1996 that turned out to be a pretty good player.)

So, with that history in mind, will the 49ers let the first round go by without a selection for only the 10th time in franchise history?

“Here’s the thing about getting a first for Jimmy Garoppolo,” Levin said, “There’s nothing stopping the 49ers from adding a draft pick to get a first round pick in return. I don’t think they could get the 11th pick from Washington, but could somebody in the twenties say, ‘Hey we’ll give you number 20, you give us your second round pick and Jimmy.”

Personally, I don’t think I would make that specific deal, but it is entirely possible that the 49ers package one of their extra picks in the middle rounds in a trade to obtain a first round pick. They could even try and engineer a three team trade. While uncommon in NFL history, they have happened - most notably when the Colts, Rams, and Bills got together in a deal that sent Eric Dickerson to Indianapolis, Cornelius Bennett to Buffalo and a massive haul of draft picks to Los Angeles.

The point is that while it might seem like San Francisco is at a draft disadvantage right now, they actually have a lot of options at their disposal. The true test will be how creative Kyle Shanahan, John Lynch, and Paraag Marathe will be when it comes to moving on from Jimmy Garoppolo.