The 49ers’ 2023 NFL Draft will be a success if John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan follow some hard guidelines this upcoming April.
It’s easy for fans to be critical of their team’s actions or inactions during any particular NFL Draft, and there is no shortage of draft criticism directed at the San Francisco 49ers’ tandem of general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan.
Among others in the Niners’ front office, Lynch and Shanahan do catch a lot of heat for their misses in previous draft classes.
In fairness, though, every team’s front office has massive whiffs.
That said, San Francisco could stand to improve upon some areas where drafting has been problematic in years prior.
Luckily for Lynch and Shanahan, we’ve created a three-step program for the 49ers to absolutely nail the 2023 NFL Draft in late April.
All they need to do is follow three simple rules, and the Niners’ draft class will be a successful one.
Rule No. 1: 49ers must not draft a running back in Round 3
San Francisco tried this unsuccessfully two years in a row, grabbing a halfback in the third round.
In 2021, it was Ohio State’s Trey Sermon, who netted a mere 167 rush yards his rookie season and was off the team a year later. In 2022, LSU’s Tyrion Davis-Price was the Round 3 addition, and he made about as substantial an impact as Sermon’s rookie year with the 49ers.
With All-Pro Christian McCaffrey already in tow, perhaps Shanahan and Lynch won’t be tempted to use one of their three compensatory third-round selections on a running back.
But, that was a general feeling a year ago, too.
The Niners can grab a kicker, a punter or even a long-snapper in Round 3. They just can’t waste such a pick on another running back.
Rule No. 2: 49ers must take a tight end at some point
It’s a bad year for teams to draft offensive linemen or outside pass-rushers. It’s much better for teams looking at cornerbacks.
Or tight ends.
With Kittle advancing in age, perhaps Shanahan might even seek someone to eventually replace No. 85 on the roster in the not-too-distant future.
San Francisco already has Charlie Woerner and Ross Dwelley on the roster to support Kittle, but neither qualifies as a complementary threat.
There are plenty of potentially wonderful complementary threats at tight end who could be had on day three of the draft where the 49ers own eight selections.
Lynch and Shanahan must use one of them on a tight end.
Rule No. 3: 49ers must let NFL Draft come to them, take best player available
It’s an argument every year for every team: Should the priority be on a team’s needs or should it be going after the best player available?
How about the Niners?
Well, considering San Francisco is still returning an overwhelming chunk of its starters from last year but also added defensive tackle Javon Hargrave, defensive back Isaiah Oliver and offensive lineman Jon Feliciano, it’s not quite like the 49ers have 11 holes to fill with their 11 draft picks.
Related Story: Should Niners draft for need or best player available?
This is a case for Lynch and Shanahan to sit tight at their respective spots and simply grab the best player available.
It almost doesn’t matter for which position, as the Niners do have question marks about depth. But, what is almost a guarantee is that each rookie won’t be tabbed as a starter right away, meaning San Francisco doesn’t have to be picky about positions at all.
Unless it’s a tight end, of course. Or avoiding a running back in Round 3. Those rules still apply.
The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off on Thursday, April 27.