The consensus guessing has the San Francisco 49ers taking a wide receiver at No. 13 overall in the 2020 NFL Draft. But what if general manager John Lynch goes with the offensive line instead?
Instead of having to wait to No. 31 overall, the Niners’ own selection, general manager John Lynch now has a much wider array of prospects likely to be available when San Francisco’s number is called first in Round 1.
Given the reality there isn’t much proven depth on the roster behind Deebo Samuel and Kendrick Bourne, it’s understandable why the general consensus believes Lynch’s first target will be a wide receiver.
Especially considering just how deep and talented this year’s receiving class is.
But what if Lynch goes with a much different out-of-the-box route at No. 13 instead?
Aside from wide receiver, cornerback and the offensive line appear to be two pressing needs. On the surface, it appears as if San Francisco has just one plausible opening along the O-line, right guard, where Mike Person is no longer on the roster, and Tom Compton and Daniel Brunskill are poised to battle it out for starting duties in 2020.
Yet there are more subtle needs, too, namely at left tackle where the veteran, Joe Staley, will turn 36 years old before the regular season kicks off.
Staley hasn’t hinted at retirement just yet. But the clock is ticking. And it’s possible Lynch tipped a hand while sharing a home-scouting video on his Twitter account. As NBC Sports Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco pointed out, the likely only player Lynch was watching was Louisville offensive tackle Mekhi Becton:
"Lynch also wanted to give 49ers fans a glimpse of how the 49ers are going about preparing for the draft. In the background on Lynch’s TV was a paused scene from Kentucky’s Nov. 30 game against Louisville. …So which prospect was Lynch watching?Kentucky did not have any defensive players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. And the only player Louisville sent to the combine was offensive tackle Mekhi Becton."
Becton is widely viewed as a top-15 target in this year’s NFL Draft and as a literal plug-and-play prospect in most blocking schemes, particularly zone, which is what the 49ers operate.
Such a move isn’t without precedent, either. In 2018, the Niners owned the ninth overall pick in that year’s draft. Rather than grabbing one of the highly touted defenders, such as now-Los Angeles Chargers safety Derwin James, Lynch and Co. selected Notre Dame offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey with the pick.
Is history about to repeat itself again?
Granted, there’s always the simple possibility Lynch is merely doing his due diligence: checking out a player to see his capabilities, particularly if he winds up falling in Round 1 for whatever the reasons, how slight they may be.
And it isn’t as if Staley’s inevitable replacement has to be found now. Maybe Lynch only wanted to see if the hype Becton created at the 2020 NFL Combine was warranted with the film.
Or, just as reasonably, Lynch didn’t want to tip his hand by sharing some film on, let’s say, Oklahoma wide receiver CeeDee Lamb or someone else of that ilk.
Regardless, the discovery by Maiocco adds another small wrinkle to the NFL Draft puzzle. And it reinforces the notion the 49ers may not necessarily do what many think they will.