San Francisco 49ers: A plan for Days 2 and 3 of the 2019 NFL Draft

Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers with general manager John Lynch (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
Head coach Kyle Shanahan of the San Francisco 49ers with general manager John Lynch (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

With Round 1 of the 2019 NFL Draft in the books, and Nick Bosa the newest member of the San Francisco 49ers, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan will look to continue the rebuild in days two and three. What should be the Niners’ plan moving forward?

Round 2, 36th overall

One of the glaring weaknesses in the 49ers team last year was their overall ability to stop the other team from scoring, as they finished 28th in total defense in 2018 according to Pro Football Reference, while giving up an average of 2.25 points per drive, good for just 17th in the league. Lynch and Shanahan believe that stopping the pass starts with a strong front-7, as evidenced by their signing of Kwon Alexander in free agency, their trading for Dee Ford and signing him to a long term contract and the selection of Bosa in round 1. Still, the back half of the defense is in major flux and could definitely do for an influx of talent. With only five remaining selections—barring a trade—in 2019, it would behoove the team to grab one of the overlooked cornerbacks—like Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy or Justin Layne—or safeties—such as Juan Thornhill or Nassir Adderley—at this slot. I wouldn’t be upset if the pick was a wide receiver like Deebo Samuel or AJ Brown, but given the swath of unknowns in the secondary, that feels like the best move to make at 36.

Round 3, 67th overall

The third round selection should probably just be the reverse of whatever the 49ers choose to do in round 2. So if they select a receiver, this has to be a cornerback; if they go coverage at 36, then 67 should be a pass catcher. Since my plan of attack calls for the best remaining cornerback in round 2, in this round I’ll call for a pass catcher of some kind. The likelihood is that names like Brown and Samuel are gone, but players like Kelvin Harmon out of NC State, Miles Boykin out of Notre Dame and maybe even JJ Arcega-Whiteside from Stanford could still be around, depending on how board falls. Either way, getting Jimmy Garoppolo another weapon to throw to this season and beyond feels like the right call in round 3.

Round 4, 104th overall

These mid-to-late rounds, especially at this point in the process, are especially difficult to predict, but with only three picks left, again barring any trades, Lynch will have to make good use of what he’s got at this point. The secondary remains something to pay attention to, and so  either doubling down at cornerback or going after a safety to push incumbents Adrian Colbert, Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt could be worth looking into. The problem is that this middle rounds have been where the 49ers have found guys like Akhello Witherspoon and Tarvarius Moore in years past, so you have to wonder if the team is willing to dip into that well again. An interesting selection here might be on the offensive line, where they could draft either an heir apparent to Joe Staley (or Mike McGlinchey, depending on if the team elects to keep last year’s first round pick at RT or move him over to LT once Staley retires) or find an interior OL guy who can spell at all three spots in a pinch and possibly push Laken Tomlinson or be ready to take over for Mike Person next year. This feels like the sweet spot for roster depth and someone who might develop into a starter at offensive line.

Round 6, 176th & 212th overall

With no picks in either rounds 5 or 7, at this moment, it’ll be a long wait between picks for the 49ers on Saturday. I’ll handle both round 6 picks together, since, much like the round 4 selection, the level of speculation is even higher than earlier rounds. The assumption here is that the 49ers already have Bosa, a first-round-talent cornerback, a wide receiver and an offensive lineman, so where does that leave the final two picks? At this point in the draft, teams tend to get a little more lenient in terms of what they’re looking for. While in rounds 1-3 most are looking for a combination of athleticism and production, later rounds allow teams to select players with specific traits—maybe someone who is a freak athlete or is exceptionally fast—or someone who produced at a high level in spite of athletic deficiencies and hope they can either coach the athlete into a productive player or that the production of the latter player will continue into the pros. That’s where a guy like Colbert comes from (although it doesn’t explain Tom Brady in the least). The general strategy here—and the one the 49ers brass has shown to favor thus far—is to find those athletic traits and see if they stick. At this point in the draft, I’d say they’ll look for another cornerback or safety who has excellent size or speed but never put it together in college, or possibly a linebacker who can be molded into the type of coverage first player the team needs at the position.

Next. 5 targets for the 49ers in Round 2 of the 2019 NFL Draft. dark

From there, the team will hit the open market and see who they can bring in as Undrafted Free Agents, and let these late round picks and UDFAs fight to make the squad in 2019.