49ers win Round 1 of NFL Draft thanks to the Panthers
Related to the Jimmy Garoppolo story, one could make the argument Niners fans had the second-most interest in what the Carolina Panthers would do with their top pick, No. 6 overall, only behind the highly anticipated Jets’ actions in Round 1.
Carolina is one of only a handful of teams still in on a quarterback, one needed to upgrade over Sam Darnold. And if it grabbed someone like Kenny Pickett or Malik Willis at No. 6 overall, one could have essentially crossed off the possibility of San Francisco trading Garoppolo there.
However, the Panthers decided to draft Ikem Ekwonu, the offensive tackle out of NC State, instead.
Compounding how this possibly benefits the 49ers, Carolina now isn’t poised to select until Round 4, meaning its chances for any sort of upgrade under center are almost impossible if the NFL Draft is viewed as the means to do it.
Unless the Panthers are content with Darnold for another season (they shouldn’t be), they’ll have to trade for someone.
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Someone like Garoppolo. Or, perhaps just as likely, soon-to-be on-the-outs quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.
The Niners should like those odds, though. And while they won’t get anything they initially had hoped for with a Garoppolo trade, something is surely better than an outright release later this offseason.
A trade is still very much in play.
Day two of the 2022 NFL Draft kicks off on Friday, April 29 at 7 p.m. ET.