And so, we’re reaching the end of a long four-month haul for the San Francisco 49ers. They fired nearly everyone, they hired a new general manager, a new coach and finally had the backbone to ignore Blaine Gabbert. Plus, the new brass is finally running the organization like adults. 4949 Centennial Boulevard is as leak-proof as a float in a hillside pool cabana!
With a few days before the 2017 NFL draft hits the primetime airwaves, fans and pundits alike are furiously cranking out mock drafts like M1 Garand’s from a World War II munitions factory. But, you won’t see a 7 round, 253 pick board from me Gentle Reader. At some point, we need to come to the realization that we don’t know who the 49ers will take with pick 146 this year. But, I will provide the 49ers executive staff three brilliant options and precisely who to draft should one of these options unfold.
Option One: Stay Put
A top five draft position isn’t an honor; no, it’s a red badge of courage reflecting the infinite sadness of the previous season’s depths of horror and despair. However, in the darkest corners of a general manager’s heart, he’s not completely upset with drafting in this position. Unless you’re the Browns, what better way to rebuild a hobbled franchise than by choosing from the best the NCAA has to offer?
Should Lynch and Shanahan stay put in the second position, the choice is between two men: Myles Garrett or Jonathan Allen.
The Browns could continue down the long, strange trip of nightmare draft selections and choose Mitchell Trubisky with the first selection. If so, the clear choice for Lynch is Myles Garrett. It is then up to Kyle Shanahan to find a spot on the defense for our new savior, especially if that means bidding adieu to Ahmad Brooks, Ray-Ray Armstrong, Carl Bradford or Wynton McManis.
Let’s say the Browns burnt some sage and exorcised the demons buried under their headquarters. They finally make the right choice and select Myles Garrett. The 49ers need not fret, and politely take Jonathan Allen with their selection. Allen is the draft’s most versatile defensive linemen, playing any position from nose to a wide-9. I understand the appeal of Solomon Thomas, but I’d rather see the 49ers rebuild their defensive line around a player like Allen.
Option Two: Trade Down
Lynch made public statements that the number two pick is open to offers, which isn’t a bad strategy. If Lynch can leverage this year’s high pick to build for the future – whether through additional draft picks this year or next – then he should make every attempt to execute the plan.
Like in option one, I’d like to see the 49ers take a defensive player if Lynch ends up trading down to pick 15 or beyond. Zach Cunningham, Jabril Peppers or Haason Reddick are ideal picks in this position and help patch up a defense that’s suffered injury, retirement and lowly coaching during the last three seasons.
But, I wouldn’t be upset if Lynch picked an offensive player mid-to-late round, so long as it’s Dan Feeney from Indiana. Before investing in a quarterback not named Brian Hoyer, Lynch needs to shore up the interior line as soon as possible. Zane Beadles is a nice Band-Aid, but he’s not a long-term solution. I’d be willing to bet Feeney could beat Beadles out for a starting position during training camp as well.
Option Three: Double the First-Round Picks
Lynch can win the hearts and minds of skeptical 49ers fans by doing one thing this draft: Get absurdly aggressive. That means trading down between picks 15-20, trading back into a position between 25-32. If you want to get really crazy, Lynch should somehow land back-to-back first round choices.
Let’s look the back-to-back option: Lynch somehow maneuvers to get picks 17 and 18. What’s a boy to do with all that capital? Easy. Draft Dan Feeney at 17 and Garrett Bolles at 18. As stated before, Feeney can come in right away and take over for Beadles. Bolles, on the other hand, may not start right away but is going to give Trent Brown and John Theus a run for the starting position. At the very worst, the 49ers are forced to thin out the unproductive offensive linemen they’ve hoarded and begin keeping lineman with actual talent.
Where Do We Go from Here?
The NFL draft is the ultimate game of chance, with each team hoping to get a least 100 games out of their new recruits. But 49ers fans are ready to feast on chance, so long as John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan can draft productive players and develop talent that meets their needs. No matter where you point, the team has holes to fill at nearly every position on both sides of the football. But, we’re ready to see Lynch and Shanahan forge their relationship in gold, and finally get a glimpse into the future of the team.