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Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

John Lynch says 49ers adding Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk made for a ‘tremendous draft’

Jun 23, 2020 at 9:44 PM--

As NFL teams continue to practice social distancing amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Francisco 49ers are holding their State of the Franchise this week — virtually. General manager John Lynch spoke with the voice of the 49ers, Greg Papa, as part of the event, and discussed the team's two first-round picks in April's draft — defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.

San Francisco selected Kinlaw out of South Carolina with the No. 14 overall pick. The team initially owned the No. 13 overall selection, thanks to the trade that sent DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts, but moved down one spot and still acquired the player they coveted.

"Going in, I would say, with the 13th pick, we had probably three guys that we were going to stand pat," Lynch said. "If they were there, we were drafting them. When we arrived at 13, those three were still there. And so, at that point, we start saying, 'Wow, let's try to find a trade partner.' But we don't want to go back too far because Kinlaw was No. 1 on that list.'

"Tampa wanted to come up. We were able to move back one spot, and we had a good idea they weren't taking Javon Kinlaw. So we were able to accrue some more draft capital and get the player that we wanted."

The 49ers' next selection was at No. 31. Of course, the team didn't stay there. It fell in love with Aiyuk but knew he probably wouldn't last until the end of the round. After a while, Lynch and the 49ers' brain trust saw the former Arizona State receiver falling closer and closer to their next selection. Not content with letting him slip away, the 49ers made their move to the No. 25 spot.

"With 31, I can tell you that was a big surprise for us," Lynch explained. "If anything, I thought we were getting out, moving back, because we needed some more picks. But Aiyuk was one of those players that we talked about. He had gained so much favor in our process that there was this scenario where we would take him at 13. When he got by 21, we just put everyone on their Zoom ... 'Make the calls. Let's see if we can find a trade partner.'

"Fortunately, it was Minnesota that we were able to do a deal with, and we moved up, and we were able to get Brandon Aiyuk, a player who we think fits us extremely well. We just felt like that was too good of an opportunity."

Lynch is confident about how the 49ers' draft played out. He believes the team acquired the difference-makers it needed and found a replacement for retiring offensive tackle Joe Staley in the process.

"So to come out of the first round with two guys that we might have taken at 13, I felt was a banner day for us," Lynch continued. "Then you throw in the trade we were able to do, not on the first day, but later on; [Washington] kept us sweating with Trent Williams. It just made it a tremendous draft, along with our other draft picks."

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