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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Why John Lynch believes the 2023 NFL Draft aligns with 49ers’ current situation

Mar 6, 2023 at 10:34 AM--

The San Francisco 49ers lack a first- or second-round pick in the upcoming draft. However, the team has done well with late-round picks in the past, finding gems like tight end George Kittle, linebackers Fred Warner and Dre Greenlaw, and safety Talanoa Hufanga in the third round or later.

Just last year, the 49ers selected quarterback Brock Purdy with the last overall pick, selection No. 262. He ended up in third place for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

"I think it's something we've done well in our tenure here, and I really believe it speaks to the synergies we have as a personnel staff and coaching staff," general manager John Lynch recently told 49ers.com's Lindsey Pallares when asked about the team's good fortune with late-round picks. "I think it starts with [head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] and I. We enjoy being around each other. We enjoy challenging each other's views and arriving at conclusions as to who can help us. I think we're good at mapping out a plan.

"It's looking like 10, maybe 11 picks. We'll see on some of these comp picks. None of them being before about pick 100. And so you have to make them count, and you can't use that as an excuse. You constantly have to be replenishing your roster. It's just the way it is with turnover, and we look forward to that opportunity. That's what it is. It's a great opportunity to make yourself better."

Lynch isn't overly concerned about the 49ers' lack of early-round draft capital. They didn't own a first-round pick last year either, making their first selection with pick No. 61. Why the nonchalance toward their current situation?

"I think the draft this year, to me, kind of aligns with where we're at because I don't know if it's necessarily some of the top-end guys that have been there in the past," Lynch said, "but it is very deep, with really good players. So we're going to make the most of it and look forward to the opportunity."

The 49ers made the most of one opportunity last year with the selection of Purdy. The rookie came through for the team. He replaced Jimmy Garoppolo after the veteran suffered a broken foot on December 4, winning each of his ensuing seven starts before suffering a torn ligament in his elbow in the NFC Championship Game. He will undergo surgery on Friday.

"Everything that Brock has done has just always been steady," Lynch said. "I think what we found out this year is that he was a lot more than just steady. He performed at a really high level in a tough circumstance, getting thrown in there, in the midst of a game against a good team like the Miami Dolphins, and he never blinked.

"… We did wait until the end of the draft, and so shame on us as well. But Brock, thank God we did turn that pick in. Brock's a fantastic player, and I think will be for a long time in this league."

With the NFL Scouting Combine in the rearview mirror, the 49ers will shift focus to free agency, which kicks off next week. That, paired with next month's draft, will help the team replenish its roster for 2023 and beyond.

"Free agency is important to supplement your team, but the draft is really the lifeblood," Lynch noted. "I love the fact that we have 10 picks. Some people might say, 'Not ideal,' because a lot of them aren't early, but like I said, we've just got to make them all count, and I think we have a track record of doing that and doing it well."


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