SANTA CLARA — Each season brings about new hope with a clean slate ahead. Last year, the San Francisco 49ers began the season with a new coach in Chip Kelly proceeding the firing of Jim Tomsula, who also spent several years as the Niners defensive line coach. Kelly came in with a very unique offense in the sense that it was a fast-break basketball on-the-field approach. This strategy ultimately backfired. Then there was the big political stance taken that drew national attention, not only in the sports following world, but also in national news with Colin Kaepernick taking knee to bring attention to people in this country who were and are being oppressed.
Fast forward to the 2017-2018 offseason and a lot has changed. The 49ers and Jed York fired a General Manager who was, to say the least, not a fan favorite. York then brought in a breath of fresh air in former all-pro, perennial pro bowler, John Lynch to be the new front face of the organization. Lynch brought on several exectives to assist him in this next phase of his professional football career; the main two being Martin Mayhew (former General Manager of the Detroit Lions) and Adam Peters (last with the Denver Broncos).
Lynch then went on to hire a new head coach in Kyle Shanahan, who helped coach the Atlanta Falcons to having the number one offense in the NFL and a trip to the Super Bowl-among having two top rushers and an MVP quarterback in Matt Ryan.
Now, the 49ers are nowhere near as stacked as the Falcons were and are. However, since Lynch arrived, they have added several pieces to the team. These pieces are not just any old pieces either. These players are players that fit the scheme and what Shanahan wants to do both on offense and defense. Lynch and Shanahan teamed up and targeted players with certain skill sets that work in this scheme.
Here are all the players that the 49ers have added this far (excluding the draft which takes place April 27th-29th):
Brian Hoyer (Last Team: Bears – QB), Pierre Garçon (Last Team – Redskins – WR), Earl Mitchell (Last Team: Dolphins – DT), Kyle Juszcyk (Last Team: Ravens – FB), Logan Paulson (Last Team: Redskins – TE), K’Waun Williams (Last Team: Browns – CB), Malcolm Smith (Last Team: Raiders – LB), Marquiuse Goodwin (Last Team: Buffalo – WR), DeAndre Carter (Last Team: Ravens – WR), Robbie Gould (Last Team: Giants – K), Matt Barkley (Last Team: Bears – QB), Brock Coyle (Last Team: Seahawks – LB), Aldrick Robinson (Last Team: Falcons – WR), Don Jones (Last Team: Dolphins – DB), Dekoda Watson (Last Team: Broncos – LB), Tim Hightower (Last Team: Saints – RB), Jason DiManche (Last Team: Bengals – LB), Gary Gilliam (Last Team: Seahawks – OL).
In total, there have been 20 free agent signings including two players that were on the roster last year in running back, DuJuan Harris and defensive tackle, Chris Jones who came on strong toward the end of last season for the 49ers.
The Niners will start their season the same as every team in the NFL will with 90-players. As the preseason progresses, each team will need to get their rosters down to 53-players; excluding the practice squad players. Part of the process of filling out this roster to make 90 will be through the draft.
With that said, below I will take a look at some of the Niners glaring holes still along with some of the best college players coming out and how they may fit. I will break it down per round(the Top 4) along with the players that may be selected to the Niners in that said round.
I do believe that the Niners will take a best player available in this round. In having the #2 overall pick in the draft, the 49ers will get a top player entering. The expectations for taking a player with this selection will be very high. They will be expected to contribute immediately.
Myles Garrett for much of the pre-draft process has been the consensus number one player. However, around the recent rumor mills, it seems as though the Browns may not be completely sold. If that is the case, it will not take more than a few seconds for the 49ers to tunr their pick in. A defensive line that featured Arik Armstead (2015’s first round pick), DeForest Buckner (2016’s first round pick), and an assumed first rounder with Garrett would make them the best and most versatile offensive line in the NFL.
The alternate pick and most popular among mock drafts is sending Solomon Thomas, defensive lineman from Stanford the Niners. This seems the most likely.
With that said, I do believe that San Francisco will be trying as hard as they can to trade back and acquire more picks to build for the future. Should that be the case, if they can find a trade partner, there are several popular picks among fans; Mitchell Trubisky, Deshaun Watson, Leonard Fournette, Mike Williams, Marshon Lattimore, Jamal Adams, Malik Hooker, and Reuben Foster to name a few. Among the names ranging from Myles Garrett to Reuben Foster, you can almost guarantee that one of these names mentioned will be dawning red and gold next season.
AUTHOR’S FAVORITE SELECTION: TRADE BACK – REUBEN FOSTER (LB)
Round two will have a lot of top tier talent and some of these players drafted will undoubtedly start in the NFL at some point. That’s a given. This could be a round where the Niners, should they not go offense in the first round, get a quarterback, running back, or wide receiver. This is a bit more tricky to predict as you never know which big names will slip.
For now, the Niners are stuck with pick #34 in the second round. Some of the quarterbacks that have been suggested here are Deshaun Watson (though that’s a stretch), Deshon Kizer, Patrick Mahomes, Davis Webb, and Nathan Peterman.
In regards to the running back position, here are some options there; Alvin Kamara, Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffery.
At the wide receiver position; Cooper Kupp, Zay Jones, JuJu Smith.
AUTHOR’S FAVORITE SELECTION: COOPER KUPP (WR)
Round three is a wild card round. It is fully contingent on what is drafted in the first couple of rounds. What voids have been filled. There is a multitude of places the Niners could go with this pick here. Despite what Shanahan and Lynch have said about sticking strictly to the big board and drafting the best player available, one has to think that they see the big areas of need. If they have a few players bunched together, it’s safe to assume that they would go with the best player available meets a need approach.
If the team does not go quarterback in the first couple rounds, it is a good chance, pending who is still on the board, to go with one here. If all the quarterbacks that they liked are gone, then maybe they wait until the later rounds and grab a guy like Chad Kelly, nephew of Bills former great quarterback, Jim Kelly.
Carlos Hyde has been solid while he has been on the field but that has been the issue, he has not had a fully healthy season yet. With how much success that Kyle Shanahan had with Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman in Atlanta, it is safe to assume that they go with another running back within the first four rounds. The considerations here could be; Samaje Perine, Joe Mixon, Marlon Mack, Kareem Hunt, D’onte Foreman.
AUTHOR’S FAVORITE SELECTION: SAMAJE PERINE (RB)
Linebacker, Defensive Line, Cornerback, Quarterback, Edge … these are all areas that the Niners could be addressing in this round. Running back is another potential area as well but it’s likely that they’ll get another in the first three rounds.
Linebacker; Elijah Lee, Kendall Beckwith, Jayon Brown, Ben Boulware, Hardy Nickerson Jr.
Defensive Line; Vincent Taylor, Eddie Vanderdoes, Jarron Jones, Josh Toupu
Cornerback; Fabian Moreau, Teez Tabor, Brian Allen, Corn Elder, Shaquill Griffin
Quarterback; Nathan Peterman, Joshua Dobbs, Chad Kelly, Seth Russell, Kenny Potter
Edge; Ryan Anderson, Tyus Bowser, Devonte Fields, Alex Anzalone, Jordan Willis
AUTHOR’S FAVORITE SELECTION: TEEZ TABOR (CB)
Predicting the draft is a crap shoot. You never really know what all 32 teams are thinking and how they have their big boards aligned; what each teams different criteria is. However, you can get a general idea of what teams need based on recent departures or where they were weak at the previous season.
The Niners clearly have a lot of work to do in a lot of places but with the additions of all the free agents that they added, and how their specific skill sets fit these systems, you can make a square bet that they will approach the draft in the same manner. They do not want to try and fit square pegs in to round holes like some of the previous management and coaches have in recent years. It really sounds like this new front office and coaching staff has a clear sense of direction.
Unfortunately, nobody is expecting this team to go to the Super Bowl this year but it’s anticipated that there will be a significant jump in growth from the abysmal 2-14 year that the team had last season.
Once again, the draft is April 27th-29th. Round 1 starts Thursday at 5pm PST. Rounds 2-3 start Friday at 4pm PST. Rounds 4-7 start Saturday at 9am PST. Tune in to find out which rookies will be joining the 49ers to help rebuild this storied franchise!