With the NFL Draft quickly approaching and teams finalizing their draft boards, we look at what the San Francisco 49ers should and shouldn’t do on draft night.
1. Trade down (for the right price)
Having the second overall pick has never been so bittersweet as it is this year. At the top of the draft, there’s Myles Garrett, who’s likely the first overall pick. Then there’s everyone else. That’s not to say there are no other good players in this draft, but Garrett is in a tier of his own. There’s not a lot of separation between the second best player in this draft and the 15th, so trading down and acquiring more picks is the best option if you’re the 49ers. The question is can they find someone willing to trade up, because there aren’t many prospects here worth giving up a ton of picks for.
2. Take the best player available
If the 49ers can’t find a willing trade partner, then the next step is to take the highest rated player on their draft board. Don’t overthink it and reach for a lesser player at a position of need; when you’re coming off of a 2-14 season, every position is up for grabs. There has been a lot of speculation that the 49ers are really high on Leonard Fournette. It may not be a popular pick, but if they think Fournette is the second best player in this draft, go for it.
3. Be aggressive in trading up
Like I mentioned earlier, there’s not much separating the top players in this draft after Myles Garrett. This could lead to a good player falling on draft day. If the 49ers see someone they really like falling, don’t sit and hope he’s there when your pick comes up, go get him. The previous regime did something similar last year with trading up to pick 28 to get Joshua Garnett (though he easily would’ve been there at their next pick), and though it appears they got burned on that deal, the new regime shouldn’t let that scare them.
1. Reach for a quarterback
The 49ers absolutely should not take a quarterback with the second pick. There are none worth taking over Malik Hooker, Jamal Adams, Leonard Fournette, Marshon Lattimore, and so on. Yes, the quarterback is the most important position on the field. No, that does not warrant taking a vastly inferior player when there are plenty of other options on the board. Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch signed six-year contracts, they don’t need to find their quarterback this year, there’s plenty of time to wait for the right guy, and that right guy probably isn’t in this draft.
2. Trade the number two pick for Kirk Cousins
After reports of a deal between the San Francisco 49ers and Washington Redskins for quarterback Kirk Cousins being “a done deal” were proven wrong by months of silence, there’s still speculation that this trade could happen. Trading any draft picks for Cousins would be a big mistake for a few reasons. First, he’s a free agent next year, and Washington won’t franchise tag him again. Second, he’s soon to be 29 years old and the 49ers are years from being a playoff contender. Lastly, he’s a good but not great quarterback. Cousins usually won’t sink your team, but he needs talent around him to be effective and the 49ers don’t have that.
3. Try to fix everything in this draft
When you have as many positions of weakness as the 49ers do, it’s impossible to fix everything in one draft. Instead of trying to take a player at each position, pick a few groups and work on them and make sure they’re fixed. If that ends up resulting in a defense-heavy draft, so be it. If all our picks are on offense, let it be. Use draft capital wisely and remember that this team will not be contending for a playoff spot next year barring an absolute miracle; you can’t fix one of the league’s worst offenses and defenses in three days. When the 49ers finish drafting there will still be weaknesses that were unaddressed, and that’s alright. John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan have time to make this team relevant again, so no need to rush and set us back even further.
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