No. 2: Using a Pick in the 2020 NFL Draft
The lack of financial resources could ultimately mean the 49ers get as cheap as possible at free safety in Jimmie Ward’s stead.
And a cheaper route would suggest the NFL Draft as a real means for San Francisco.
Like the cap situation, though, the Niners have problems here, too. After engineering trades in 2019 for Emmanuel Sanders and EDGE Dee Ford, the Niners are armed with only six picks in April’s draft, and only one of them, No. 31 overall, falls within the first four rounds. It wouldn’t be a shock to see John Lynch trade down out of this spot, accruing more draft capital in the process. But that would also likely cut into the team’s ability to cash in on what’s being looked at as a relatively weak NFL Draft class at safety.
There are some options, however, as pointed out by Niner Noise’s Jeremy Wohlfart.
Alabama’s Xavier McKinney is widely viewed as the top prospect at this position, yet him falling to San Francisco at No. 31 is going to be tough. Instead, someone like LSU’s Grant Delpit might be a bit more plausible an option.
And if the 49ers are able to trade back down, perhaps a name like Cal’s Ashtyn Davis or Minnesota’s Antoine Winfield Jr. would be feasible.
Yet this prompts the age-old adage about young defensive backs frequently struggling early in their transition to the pro ranks, which would be something the Niners have to absorb if a rookie ends up assuming the starting role in 2020.