Round 1, Pick No. 18: Offensive Lineman Kyle Long, Oregon
Original Pick: Safety Eric Reid
It’s important to remember the Niners traded up from No. 31 to No. 18 in Round 1 of the draft to select former LSU safety Eric Reid.
San Francisco 49ers
The move made perfect sense at the time. San Francisco let former safety Dashon Goldson walk via free agency, and Reid was going to be the hard-hitting defensive back set to replace him.
Reid produced Pro Bowl efforts his rookie season. But injuries and inconsistency has left the remainder of his tenure with the 49ers a little less than exemplary.
Instead of taking Reid, the Niners should have still traded up to No. 18 — sending off a third-round pick in the process — to acquire former Oregon offensive lineman Kyle Long at this spot.
Long is a three-time Pro Bowler with the Chicago Bears now, who was probably on a trajectory to earn his fourth before an injury cut his 2016 season short.
With hindsight being 20-20, one can only imagine the need the 49ers had to replace offensive guard Mike Iupati in 2015, when he left via free agency. Instead of a player like Long, the Niners had to rely on Jordan Devey. And they haven’t exactly found better-than-average guards ever since Iupati left.
Long over Reid likely would have meant the Niners would start former safety Craig Dahl, which creates some headaches.
But it all starts up front, right?