49ers in Position to Land QB in 2018 after Draft-Day Trades

May 11, 2017

Though the 49ers did select C.J. Beathard in the third round, John Lynch finished his first draft as general manager without having selected a player seemingly capable of becoming San Francisco's next franchise quarterback.


The Niners' decision not to reach for a quarterback in a class that divided opinion is understandable and, while Kyle Shanahan may believe Beathard has what it takes to develop into an NFL starter, many feel San Francisco will be in a position to select one of the passers from what looks to be a loaded 2018 class.


However, there is a problem with such a line of thinking, which is that this revamped Niners roster has the look of a team capable of improving considerably on the two wins earned under Chip Kelly in 2016.


Yet even if the relative intrigue surrounding the 2017 49ers proves justified, Lynch's moves in his maiden draft have set San Francisco up well to be in the conversation to add one of the top 2018 quarterback prospects.




In 10 of their 14 defeats the 49ers held a lead and, according to Football Outsiders' Estimated Wins metric, which relies on a statistic known as Forest Index that puts an emphasis on consistency and performance in situations such as red zone defense and first-quarter offense, played well enough to earn 4.6 wins last term.


Football Outsiders' Pythagorean Wins metric, a projection of expected wins based solely on points scored and allowed, says the 49ers should have triumphed in 3.9 games in 2016.


Averaging those numbers out it is fair to suggest that the analytics show San Francisco should have claimed double the amount of victories they achieved under Kelly.


Of course four wins is far from impressive, but it has to remembered that the 49ers played the first five games of the season with Blaine Gabbert at quarterback, were starved at talent at the skill positions and possessed an historically bad defense almost completely incapable of stopping the run.


Furthermore, per Football Outsiders, the 49ers faced the 13th toughest schedule in the NFL last season, meaning a four-win season would have been a distinct over-achievement.


By contrast the 49ers, according to CBS Sports, go into 2017 with the 20th-hardest schedule in the league and do so with one of the finest offensive minds in the league in Shanahan and a much-improved roster on both sides of the ball.


San Francisco added a plethora of skill-position players in both free agency in the draft, and the Niners now have a legitimate starting receiver in Pierre Garcon, a deep threat in Marquise Williams and a fullback in Kyle Juszczyk who can be a multi-faceted threat.


The likes of Tim Hightower, Joe Williams, George Kittle and Trent Taylor all have what it takes to be immediately supplementary contributors, while on defense the 49ers have improved on all three levels through the additions of Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Ahkello Witherspoon, Earl Mitchell and K'Waun Williams.




Looking at that combination of an apparently easier schedule, improved talent, a highly rated head coach and a quarterback with past experience of the scheme, it is not ambitious to suggest the 49ers could substantially improve their win total from 2016.


The only problem with the Niners enjoying relative success is that it would potentially put other teams above them in the pecking order for the likes of Sam Darnold and Josh Rosen.


Lynch, though, has put the 49ers in a position to enjoy relative progress and still target a top quarterback in next year's draft, having acquired ample ammunition to move up should San Francisco land outside the first five picks in 2018.


With an extra second and third at his disposal in 2018 following trades with the Bears and Saints this year, Lynch can go into next year's draft confident of possessing enough bait to pull off a trade up should he wish to do so.


As a result of those additional selections -- barring them unexpectedly becoming a contender again in 2017 -- the 49ers cannot be ruled out of the discussion for the draft's top quarterbacks regardless of any strides made by the team.


The 49ers have an adequate placeholder for 2017, a developmental rookie in Beathard and know that Washington's Kirk Cousins could be on the market next year and they can end up in a good spot to draft a premier signal-caller next year.


San Francisco does not yet have its guy at quarterback, but Lynch has ensured the organization has the means to find him in 2018.

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