Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rams’ Sean McVay believes 49ers are confident in their draft strategy

Apr 16, 2021 at 5:46 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers' move up nine spots from the No. 12 overall pick last month sent shockwaves across the NFL. News of the blockbuster move broke during Zach Wilson's pro day, taking a little away from the event as everyone tried to wrap their heads around the impact — not just on the draft but on the NFC West and NFL landscape for years to come.

The move up to the No. 3 spot leaves San Francisco without a first-round pick in each of the next two years. Someone who knows a thing or two about building a roster without first-round picks is the coach of the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams — Sean McVay.

McVay and 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan are close friends, but you can bet the Rams coach is being kept in the dark about the Bay Area team's plans.

Many wonder what Shanahan and general manager John Lynch's strategy will be on April 29, when the first round of the draft kicks off. Did the 49ers have someone in mind when they executed the move, or are they so comfortable with the options that might be there that moving up over a month before the start of the draft seemed like a no-brainer?

"I think that there was an intentionality that no matter what happened with those first two picks, we're going to feel great about giving this up, and what we're going to acquire in the player that we choose at the three spot," McVay told Rich Eisen this week on the Rich Eisen Show when asked about the thinking inside the 49ers' headquarters.

The nice thing about making a move in March is that Shanahan and Lynch don't have to work in the shadows while evaluating the top quarterback prospects. They can attend pro days, and have been doing so, without shrouding themselves in secrecy. Both were in Tuscaloosa on March 30 to watch Mac Jones of Alabama. They were in Columbus on Wednesday to see Justin Fields of Ohio State throw. On Monday, the duo will be in Fargo to see Trey Lance of North Dakota State.

Maybe the 49ers did have someone specific in mind when they traded up, but they are still doing their homework on the top prospects who might be available.

"I do know this, and this is what you always respect about Kyle, and when I worked for Mike (Shanahan), they're going to do their work, they're going to be convicted in their beliefs," McVay said. "There's a security that exists where they trust the expertise and their due diligence. I know Kyle's going to be studying the heck out of these guys that are possibilities."

McVay is among those who find it hard to believe that Shanahan and the 49ers pulled off such a massive move without a well-thought-out strategy when it comes to the potential targets.

"I do think that everything was done with a plan in mind, while also knowing that I'm sure they're really kind of really ironing it out to make sure," McVay added. "But I have a tough time, knowing how intentional Kyle is about everything, and John, and those guys in San Francisco, that they didn't feel good, no matter what the scenario is about either one or two guys — or a few — that would be available at that third pick when you give that much up to go up."

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