ESPN does annual re-drafts after each season, where the beat writer for every team has the benefit of hindsight. How much of a surprise would it be to know 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy was taken No. 4 overall by none other than Robert Saleh and the New York Jets?
Original pick: Sauce Gardner, CB
New pick: Brock Purdy, QB
Yes, Purdy will be on the shelf for at least six months with a UCL tear to this throwing elbow, but we’re thinking long term not short term. It hasn’t worked out with Zach Wilson — the No. 2 overall pick in 2021 — so it’s time to change direction at quarterback. Purdy was Mr. Irrelevant in the real draft, but he’d be very relevant to the Jets. He’d look good in Gotham, especially if they fail to land veterans Aaron Rodgers or Derek Carr this offseason. In eight starts and four relief appearances — three starts in the playoffs — Purdy completed 66.5% of his passes, throwing for 1,943 yards with 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. — Rich Cimini
From the last pick in the draft to a top-5 selection. Despite a UCL tear, the perception of Purdy couldn’t be any more different than it was this time last year, or even six months ago.
Kenny Pickett was the only other quarterback taken in the first round, as he landed at No. 16 overall.
I go back and forth on Purdy’s value. For a rookie with no experience, he came in and looked like a seasoned veteran from the get go. Purdy started 46 straight games to end his career at Iowa State, and it showed at the NFL level. He looked more comfortable than Trey Lance and, at times, Jimmy Garoppolo.
But I always come back to how much better Purdy will get, and am left wondering why Lance wouldn’t look the same if not better had he been afforded a handful of games with the same offense.
In an ideal world, both Purdy and Lance are healthy for training camp, and we’ll find out who is the better fit for the 49ers. It feels like the job is Purdy’s to lose, but Lance oozes with physical talent that few possess, and traits are what wins in this league.
The Niners find their right tackle of the future in the re-draft:
Original pick: Drake Jackson, OLB
New pick: Abraham Lucas, OT
The Niners still have high hopes for Jackson, who has flashed promise as a pass-rusher, but the chance to nab Lucas here is too good to pass up. He started 16 games for the Seahawks and ranked 17th among all offensive tackles in pass block win rate (91.9%). With Mike McGlinchey set to become a free agent who might have priced himself out of the Niners’ range, a solid tackle on a rookie contract would be nice to have in the pipeline, much like San Francisco did with guard Aaron Banks in 2021. — Nick Wagoner
McGlinchey’s market will be one of the bigger stories of the 49ers free agency.
McGlinchey’s evaluation is the easy part. You know you’re getting a dominant run blocker who will have an occasional lowlight, but is a net positive and closer to a Pro-Bowl caliber player than many are willing to admit. That sounds like a hot take, but if the 49ers are unable to retain McGlinchey, it’ll be because the NFL agrees with that assessment.
The toughest part about McGlinchey is his valuation. He just turned 29 in January. He played 94 percent of the snaps last season, and is comfortably the best right tackle on the market. When you’re in the top three of your position, teams are willing to slightly overpay.
Will the 49ers? Or will they go for a lesser known quantity like Isaiah Wynn or Jawaan Taylor? Or, to really save money, hope one of Colton McKivitz, Nick Zakelj (I’d guess he has a better chance at replacing Jake Brendel at center) Daniel Brunskill (he’s also an unrestricted free agent), or Spencer Burford can play tackle? That’s a big ask. The more you talk through potential replacements, the more likely you’d want McGlinchey, or a tackle on a rookie contract.