SF 49ers get another D-lineman in latest Draft Network mock

Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19) Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19) Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /

The folks over at The Draft Network have the SF 49ers addressing their defensive line again in their post-Super Bowl mock NFL Draft.

Wait, the SF 49ers can’t possibly use yet another first-round NFL Draft pick on a defensive lineman again, could they?

Well, that’s what the folks over at The Draft Network suggest could happen this April.

TDN’s Kyle Crabbs just released his post-Super Bowl mock draft, and he has a number of wild trades taking place over the first 10 picks. While the Niners have been involved in plenty of trade speculation so far this offseason, general manager John Lynch actually elects to hold onto the No. 12 overall selection in this year’s draft.

And with that pick, Crabbs has San Francisco grabbing Michigan EDGE Kwity Paye:

"San Francisco is another team who figures to be in the market for a quarterback but their lukewarm offer for Stafford (they reportedly did not offer their first-round pick) seems to indicate that the 49ers could take or leave major investments into upgrades at quarterback. After all, the team has found plenty of success with a healthy Jimmy Garoppolo. The challenge for San Francisco is that no one was healthy last year. The 49ers’ current team identity was forged by investing premium picks in the trenches. Kwity Paye? Opposite a healthy Nick Bosa? That’ll keep the heat on Stafford, Wilson, and Murray in the NFC West."

Crabbs is holding onto the notion Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan are comfortable enough with Jimmy G under center, which is equally as part of the discussion surrounding a would-be upgrade.

And it would certainly reinforce the pro-Garoppolo crowd by citing the quarterback’s success when healthy back in 2019.

As far as quarterbacking went anyway, Crabbs’ mock had plenty of blockbuster moves, which included the Miami Dolphins trading for disgruntled Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. That was part of a massive run at quarterbacks in the draft, which saw Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, BYU’s Zach Wilson, Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance all selected in the top seven picks.

SF 49ers drafting Kwity Paye would indicate an end for Dee Ford

Super Bowl LV showed why having an elite pass-rushing duo can be so effective at stopping high-profile quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes.

The SF 49ers had this a year ago with Bosa and fellow EDGE Dee Ford, although the latter’s back injury has cast doubt on his ability to be ready for 2021. Of course, the Niners have invested heavily in the defensive line in recent years, including drafting Bosa at No. 2 overall back in 2019 and also sending away a second-round pick to the Kansas City Chiefs that year for Ford.

And last year, San Francisco drafted defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 13 overall, too.

But Ford could be a cap casualty this offseason, as Niners Nation’s Kyle Posey pointed out. If the SF 49ers can wait until after June 1, cutting Ford would generate $15.2 million in cap savings with $4.7 in dead money.

As far as Paye goes, he’s looked at as one of the few premier pass-rushers in this year’s draft class, which is considered thin at the position for 2021.

Kwity Paye Defense & Fumbles Table
TacklesDef IntFumbles
*2017MichiganBig TenFRDL20441.51.0000000
*2018MichiganBig TenSODL10216275.52.0000101
*2019MichiganBig TenJRDL1226245012.56.5000000
2020MichiganBig TenSRDL4124164.02.0000000

Provided by CFB at Sports Reference
Generated 2/8/2021.

Paye doesn’t have the overly impressive sack totals one might like for a first-round pass-rusher. But his pure build at 6-foot-4 and 272 pounds, combined with sheer athleticism and imposing prowess, could translate into him becoming one of the top-performing EDGEs from this year’s class.

If developed properly, he could provide the perfect one-two combination with Bosa.

Next. 49ers post-Senior Bowl 3-round mock NFL Draft. dark

There are certainly other needs the Niners have in this year’s draft, particularly at cornerback and along the offensive line. But getting that lethal pass rush back into the range where it was a year ago could be a vital step towards ensuring San Francisco stays in Super Bowl contention in 2021 and beyond.