While the 49ers have plenty of issues to address in the 2022 NFL Draft, this lone item remains the No. 1 burning question heading into late April.
A year ago, the predominant question surrounding the San Francisco 49ers’ plans in the 2021 NFL Draft was which quarterback they’d select after boldly trading up to No. 3 overall.
Was it going to be Alabama’s Mac Jones? Perhaps Ohio State’s Justin Fields?
As it turned out, Trey Lance was the selection. That put an end to the weeks of talk speculating on which quarterback head coach Kyle Shanahan liked the most out of those he’d likely have available.
Now, heading into the 2022 NFL Draft, the Niners will again be discussed with regards to their quarterback situation.
Lance won’t be the focal point of the matter, though. At least not entirely. No, the discussion will center around whether or not the next phase of San Francisco’s attempts to trade veteran signal-caller Jimmy Garoppolo will actually pan out with desired results. The 49ers tried moving Garoppolo at the start of the league new year, of course, but those efforts led nowhere. Garoppolo is still very much on the Niners’ offseason roster.
Unfortunately, this has led to Jimmy G’s presence being the No. 1 discussion point for San Francisco entering the draft, and it was on NFL.com’s list of the “top burning questions” every team must face when Round 1 kicks off on Thursday, April 28.
It shouldn’t be that way for the 49ers, though.
Would the Niners trade Garoppolo in the middle of the draft? Of course, they would.
However, general manager John Lynch is on record saying San Francisco isn’t going to give Garoppolo away for nothing. No, the 49ers are likely to wait this one out, especially if no teams come calling for a Garoppolo trade.
So, if Garoppolo isn’t the biggest burning question the Niners face this NFL Draft, what is?
49ers’ No. 1 burning question entering 2022 NFL Draft
San Francisco has a playoff-caliber roster already in place. But it’s far from perfect. And with Garoppolo still on the roster, Lynch and Co. were prevented from supplementing the depth chart with high-quality free agents to further support Lance.
As such, that’ll be the big-ticket approach the 49ers have to take when their numbers are called on draft day.
The 2021 draft will be defined by how Lance pans out. The 2022 draft should be solely about putting as many pieces together as possible to support Lance, albeit with some defensive prospects thrown into the mix, too. It’s a good year for pass-rushers and defensive backs, and the Niners need those.
However, the biggest question will be how well San Francisco can upgrade its offense, one which flamed out during the postseason in January and February with Garoppolo at the helm.
Read More: Niners’ 3 biggest needs in 2022 NFL Draft
The 49ers need upgrades and depth for the interior of their offensive line to protect Lance, particularly at the two guard spots. Grabbing a wide receiver to put in tandem with incumbents like Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk should be on the docket, too, and it’s not out of the question to see the Niners add another tight end to pair with George Kittle.
In short, San Francisco needs to do as much as it possibly can to ensure Lance’s success. How well the 49ers achieve this goal will ultimately define whether or not their efforts in the 2022 draft were worthwhile.
Although trading Garoppolo in the middle of the draft might be helpful, too.