All off-season safety has been a hot topic for the 49ers. They signed George Odum, but not to a contract that signals he’d be a starter. Leading up to the NFL Draft, it felt like a forgone conclusion that the Niners would select a safety with one of their first couple of picks.
Edge rusher, running back, and wide receiver. That’s how the draft began for San Francisco. With nine picks, the team neglected to address safety. During the State of the Franchise event, general manager John Lynch had a telling quote that the 49ers had their eyes on a potential safety before being jumped:
We stayed pat because there were players there that we liked at every pick. That’s a cool thing when a plan comes together. There were some fun moments in the draft. And some not so fun. Like a player we really wanted and someone jumped us. That happens in every draft.
Lynch was referring to the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft when the Cincinnati Bengals leapfrogged the 49ers to select CB/S Cam Taylor-Britt, who was a player that would have been the best-case scenario, in my opinion, at No. 61:
if arnold ebiketie falls i’d trade up for him in a heartbeat.— KP (@KP_Show) April 29, 2022
players i like today and for the rest of the draft:
S jalen pitre
S jaquan brisker
DB cam taylor-britt
C luke fortner
OL logan bruss
C dohnovan west
WR george pickens
WR danny gray
RB jerome ford https://t.co/0hmsmPY604
Lynch and company walked away with West and Gray but snagging a speedy defensive back who can play all positions would have been a home-run selection.
I doubt Lynch intended to come off saying, “we wanted Taylor-Britt and Jackson was more of a consolation prize. You wonder why he said that publicly or what Lynch’s intentions were. By all accounts, Talanoa Hufanga looks better during the summer, so these comments could be moot.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan spoke about Jackson, and how he has the ability to be one of the best defensive lineman coming out of the draft:
The first time we watched Drake, he was like the 10th defensive lineman we watched, because we watched them based on where they’re projected to go. And his tape was better than the nine we watched before him.
It shows the potential of a guy. Yeah, there’s some things as to why we got him at 61. But when you see the things that he’s capable of doing, and I’m not trying to put pressure on him or anything, but you see the ability to be one of those top guys. And to have that advantage at 61, those are the things that change teams.
Calling Jackson the best defensive lineman you watched is high praise. The 49ers could benefit in a big way if Jackson is ready to perform as a rookie.
My guess is that it takes him a month or so to get acclimated to the NFL, then we start to see the flashes and, by season’s end, Jackson has a handful of sacks.