49ers: Baldinger loves what John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan did in the draft

May 5, 2020 at 3:10 PM--


It's going to be some time before we can fairly judge how San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan managed this year's draft. But if you ask NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger, the duo did a fantastic job bolstering their contending roster.

Lynch and Shanahan made the difficult decision to trade Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, one of the dominant defense's best young players, to the Indianapolis Colts while acquiring the No. 13 overall pick in the process.

"They knew they couldn't pay everyone," Baldinger said.

San Francisco ended up trading down one spot and selecting defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw at No. 14. He will cost significantly less than Buckner over the next four to five years, and the transition away from an established player has allowed the 49ers to keep the defense mostly together.

"I think that Javon Kinlaw has a chance to be the best defensive player in this draft," Baldinger explained. "Now, it's all up to him. When you look at 6-5 and change, 325 pounds -- go turn on the Alabama game and watch him chase the ball 50 yards down the field. If his motor runs hot, the way Nick Bosa's did last year, he is a wrecking ball in the middle of the defensive line.

"I said that defensive line for the 49ers last year, it was like watching Shark Week, and I think they can keep the trenches strong."

Then the 49ers traded up from their second first-round pick to select wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk at No. 25.

"Unbelievable off-the-charts production," Baldinger said of Aiyuk. "You go with George Kittle (at) tight end, what Deebo Samuel did for them last year, and then what Brandon Aiyuk did [in 2019], kind of in a breakout season, when he had a chance to be the guy at Arizona State.

"The ability from the route-runner standpoint, from being a returner [as] a punt returner, the kickoff-return game, to be a guy who can play inside, he can play outside. He played outside at Arizona State, and I think that's where they'll play him."

Both Lynch and Shanahan stated that, had the dominos fallen differently, they would have been comfortable selecting Aiyuk at No. 13. It was one of the best rookie receivers classes in recent memory, and the 49ers feel they got tremendous value by picking up two players they would have been willing to draft with their first selection.

"He's got great route-running ability," Baldinger continued, "and I can see him fitting into this Forty-Niner offense. With all the play-action that they do, all the misdirection that they do, I think he's a natural fit.

"I think the 49ers just bolstered the receiving core and the whole defense with who they took with the first two picks in that first round, and I applaud the 49ers for what they did. I give them a solid A because I think they got two guys that they really liked, that they can plug and play the first week of the season."





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