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Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch are entering into their third NFL draft together at the helm of the San Francisco 49ers and for the third consecutive year, they hold a top ten selection. The front office has been extremely hit or miss with their picks. For every George Kittle and Fred Warner there is a Reuben Foster or C.J. Beathard. The goal for this year is very simple: fill needs, get good value and, most importantly, do not punt it to the moon.
During the 2017 draft, Lynch and Shanahan were stuck with one of the worst rosters in all of football. They were allowed to approach each selection and take whatever player they believed to be the best available. Last season, the roster had more of an identity which left fewer gaping holes for many of the position groups. The 2018 draft class appears to be much stronger than Lynch and Shanahan’s first group of players but not all picks were home runs.
Now, in 2019, the training wheels are off. Sitting with the second overall pick, the 49ers have to hit a grand slam in the first round. Whether that means staying put or trading back, whoever has their name called to suit up in the red and gold must be immediate impact starters. The most obvious position to address to ensure that happens is at edge and the draft’s premiere edge rusher, Ohio State’s Nick Bosa, could very well fall into their laps. If not Bosa at 2, Alabama’s Quinnen Williams could be the selection, however, riots may occur if John Lynch makes Williams the fourth defensive interior drafted in the five seasons.
That, of course, now leaves the option of trading back. The 49ers enter with only six selections in a very deep draft class among many of their positions of need. Teams like the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers both possess multiple first-round picks. Plenty of other teams could be willing to overpay to move up for their perceived quarterback of the future, especially if the Arizona Cardinals elect to not pick QB Kyler Murray first overall. Even with a trade back, the goal has to remain the same: plug-and-play starter who can produce at a high level from day one.
The rest of the selections need to be a delicate balance of filling needs across the roster without reaching and overdrafting their guys. After finding pass rush help in the first round, the 49ers have needs at wide receiver, free safety, interior offensive line and cornerback, many of which fall in line with the strengths of this year’s draft class. They must find starters with their second- and third-round selections and quality depth for all the picks afterwards.
The roster is not completely devoid of talent as it was in 2017, but depth at many positions is a concern. This is a make or break year for John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan as they are out of excuses. Their jobs may depend on how this young group of players performs this year.
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