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The first round of the draft could hardly have gone better from the 49ers’ perspective. When Arizona turned in their card with Kyler Murray’s name on it, the 49ers were presumably left with all 184 players on their board, which, made for an easy choice at number two. In his pre-draft press conference, John Lynch said that it would take an offer that was “too good to be true” to trade down, apparently no “Godfather” offer was made and Nick Bosa was the pick.
Bosa is tailor-made to play in new defensive line coach Kris Kocurek’s Wide-9 alignment and with Ford coming off the opposite edge and Buckner up the middle, the opponents’ protection schemes will be put to the test. Now that both edges of the line have been solidified, the roles become clearer for Solomon Thomas and Arik Armstead, both of whom have been the subject of recent trade rumors although Lynch dispelled the rumors at least as far as Thomas is concerned, but might the front office dangle Armstead in an effort to acquire more picks? Bosa is an every down player who can play the run as well as the pass which will allow Thomas to finally be played inside at his natural position. Kris Kocurek’s mantra is “go as hard as you can for as long as you can,” and the 49ers have a defensive line rotation that should allow them to practice what Kocurek preaches.
Adding Nick Bosa to Dee Ford and DeForest Buckner gives the 49ers the pieces to make life miserable for quarterbacks and some of the team’s 2019 opponents have already started their doomsday preparations.
Division rival Arizona took the unheard-of step of selecting a quarterback (Kyler Murray) with the first overall pick after tacking one in the top ten the previous year. In 2018, the Cardinals traded up in the draft to take Josh Rosen but at 6-foot-4-inches tall Rosen would be an easy target for the 49ers pass rushers. In Murray, the Cardinals get a much smaller, more elusive, more mobile target at quarterback and as a former baseball player Murray is plenty used to sliding. One could criticize the Cardinals for their poor use of draft capital, but in their defense, it is easier to use one pick on a mobile signal caller than it is to replace five offensive linemen.
At least, Arizona is doing something, which, is more than could be said for the 49ers other two divisional opponents, the Rams and the Seahawks. By trading out of the first round, the Rams appear to be using the ostrich defense, which consists of hoping the threat will go away by ignoring it. And as foolhardy as that is it is still more effective than whatever it is the Seahawks are doing. In taking L.J. Collier in the first round, it looks as though head coach Pete Carroll and general manager John Schneider are looking to establish their insanity defense for when they go on trail for getting Russell Wilson killed.
Even some of the 49ers’ non-division opponents took steps to fortify themselves against the likes of Ford, Buckner and Bosa despite not having to play them twice a year. Their Week 2 opponent, the Cincinnati Bengals, took the first offensive lineman off the board with the selection of Jonah Williams. Williams is a versatile player who could be a starter at all five offensive line positions (unfortunately for quarterback Andy Dalton, Williams cannot start at all five positions at the same time).
The Atlanta Falcons doubled down on the approach taken by the Bengals and selected Chris Lindstrom, an offensive lineman out of Boston College, with the fourteenth pick in the first round and then traded back into round one at pick 31 to take offensive lineman Kaleb McGary from the University of Washington.
After losing Alex Smith to what is most likely a career-ending broken leg last season Washington has decided to take the Costco approach at quarterback and buy in bulk. Washington added off-brand Kirk Cousins a.k.a. Case Keenum to a roster that already includes Colt McCoy a.k.a. off-brand Baker Mayfield, and in the first round of the draft selected Ohio State quarterback Dwayne Haskins. For Haskins’ sake I hope that Washington upgrades the pass protection before the 49ers come to town in Week 7.
With six rounds and two hundred twenty-two more picks still to come in the 2019 draft there is plenty of opportunity for the 49ers’ other opponents to prepare for what is coming their way and for the 49ers to continue to stockpile talent. Despite what the song says, draft time is the most wonderful time of the year.
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