We love hypotheticals and talking through “what if” scenarios to get us through the dead times during the offseason. NFL re-drafts make for fun discussions since we have hindsight.
Looking back at the 49ers 2020 draft, they took a swing at an athletic defensive tackle that had all the potential in the world. Javon Kinlaw didn’t come without concerns, as he left the Senior Bowl with injuries.
Unfortunately, his rookie contract hasn’t panned out the way San Francisco had hoped. The team went into the NFL Draft knowing they needed to replace DeForest Buckner. Years later, it looks foolish, but at the time, the risk seemed worth it.
In a re-draft by The Athletic’s Diante Lee, the Niners take a quarterback a year before Trey Lance as the future of the franchise. Brandon Aiyuk went No. 11 overall to the Jets.
Kinlaw was a big swing for the 49ers as they looked to replace DeForest Buckner. He has the tools to be a better run defender than he has shown, but the issues with Kinlaw as a top-15 pick are his lack of production as an interior pass rusher and his struggles to stay on the field.
So let’s get Shanahan his Jimmy Garoppolo replacement. Hurts is unafraid of gaining tough yards, a threat to keep the ball on bootlegs and a willing passer on the perimeter when one-on-ones are available. He would have a difficult time adjusting to making on-time, middle-of-the-field throws in this offense, but everything else about his game would fit snugly into an attack desperate for an added dimension at quarterback.
Diante’s point about Hurts playing on time and seeing the open read quick enough probably eliminates him as a Shanahan quarterback. Still, Jalen has the athleticism and arm that make it tough for any play-caller to ignore. The 49ers running game would destroy the rest of the league with Hurts under center.
Fans would have been impatient with Hurts’ development. The product we saw on the field in 2022 and in the Super Bowl was not the same as in year’s past. Shanahan has a QB-friendly offense, but Hurts’s accuracy was inconsistent at best before this year.
With their second first round selection, the 49ers went against their history and selected a cornerback in the first round:
25. San Francisco 49ers: Jaylon Johnson, CB, Utah
Original pick: Aiyuk
Selfishly, there’s little I would enjoy more than giving the 49ers’ defense a tough corner with 4.5 speed and great feel for the ball.
Initially, Johnson was dropped into an unfair position, being asked to take on CB1 duties for a Chicago defense that was stripping itself to the studs. But he has grown into a core piece, so giving him the benefit of the San Francisco pass rush would fast-track his development.
Johnson is sound in coverage, and has the awareness and ability to play the ball in the air that’s led to three straight seasons of allowing a completion percentage of 50. But I could see the 49ers not investing in the former Ute, as he’s proven to be a subpar tackler during his NFL career. This past season, Johnson missed 25 percent of his tackling opportunities, per Sports Info Solutions. Mooney Ward missed 2.2 percent.
It’s one giant fantasy, but could you envision a scenario where Hurts is the quarterback of the 49ers?