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PFF ranks 49ers GM John Lynch as the fifth-worst general manager when it comes to ‘Draft-Day Trades’ since 2017

We just hit the one-year anniversary for the 49ers moving up to pick No. 3 in the 2021 NFL Draft

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NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Los Angeles Rams Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The conversation surrounding general managers in the NFL is primarily one-sided. 49ers’ general manager John Lynch is a perfect example. Lynch won’t get credit for Nick Bosa or Deebo Samuel falling in his lap. He drafted All-Pro players in the third round (Fred Warner) and fifth-round (George Kittle) while trading for the best left tackle in the league, Trent Williams, for a Day 3 pick.

There are countless players on the roster ranging from impact players in their specific roles to competent starters that help give the Niners one of the best rosters in the NFC. But because the team hasn’t thrown cash at specific free agents, still rosters a quarterback with a $25 million cap hit who won’t start in 2022, or has a few holes on the roster, you’ll see some fans calling for Lynch’s job for one reason or another.

PFF analyzed the past five drafts to see who lost and gained the most value in the NFL. The minimum was five trades, which eliminated just under half of the NFL. The logic is that trading down gives general managers a better chance of hitting on the draft pick since the draft is viewed as a crapshoot. The more picks you have, the more players you can draft. The more players you draft, the better odds you have of drafting multiple good players.

That’s the summation of PFF explaining their draft value charts, so it explains why Lynch ranks 12th out of 17th:

12. John Lynch – San Francisco 49ers

Best Trade Down: Mitchell Trubisky @ pick 2 (gained 1885 points, 9th overall)

Worst Trade Up: Trey Lance @ pick 3 (lost 1983 points, 7th overall)

Explanation: Following an extremely sharp pick swap with Chicago for the right to select Trubisky in 2017, Lynch had full reign to trade up on three separate occasions in his maiden draft. Since then, he has shown the same proclivity for losing value while trading up, which culminated in an aggressive blockbuster move to acquire Lance while still trading up for Trey Sermon later on Day 2.

It should be noted that the teams lower than the Niners are the Chiefs, Patriots, Packers, Cardinals, and Saints, while the Panthers and Seahawks are the top two teams.

Lance doesn’t have to turn into a superstar by Year 3 for the 49ers to have won this trade. We have to factor in why the 49ers traded up for a quarterback — the 2022 NFL Draft played a significant factor in that.

Lance would have run away as the No. 1 overall pick during this cycle had he played in college this past season. Instead, Lance went before established quarterbacks such as Mac Jones and Justin Fields last season. I have a hard time believing anyone in the 2022 QB class turns out to be better than Lance.

It’s fair to question San Francisco about why they felt the need to part ways with a 2023 first-round pick. As for the previous trades, such as Sermon, the early returns weren’t promising in Year 1. It’s not fair to shut the door on Sermon as a player, but Elijah Mitchell’s production as a sixth-rounder won’t make it easy to argue in Sermon’s favor.

Still, I’d rather root for a team with an aggressive mindset like the 49ers have as opposed to a team that sits idle and only believes in one way to build. We’re still in a “wait-and-see-mode” with Lance. It’s not hyperbole to say the near future rests on the success of the young quarterback. When you give up the draft capital San Francisco did for Lance, that’s to be expected.