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Who is the 49ers’ Mystery Man?

Apr 26, 2017 at 10:08 AM


There have been a plethora of changes made in Santa Clara since the end of the 2016 season. As we know, the 49ers have essentially hit the reset button from top to bottom. Chip Kelly has been replaced by Kyle Shanahan, Trent Baalke has been replaced by John Lynch, and we've seen the additions of Broncos Personnel Executive Adam Peters, along with former Lions GM Martin Mayhew to the front office.

Both Lynch and Shanahan are rookies in their respective positions, so we don't have a previous track record to refer to regarding personnel decisions. Compared to the previous regime, the 49ers have been tight-lipped. They haven't allowed any information to be leaked out to the media. The difference is like night and day. As a result, there has been a wide range of names floated around from draft prognosticators around the NFL. No one really knows what Lynch and Shanahan have up their sleeves.

Through deductive reasoning, I'm going to attempt to predict who the 49ers will select in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.

First of all, I have to give John Lynch some credit. He has tried every trick in the book to move down and acquire more picks, but there doesn't appear to be much interest from other teams to move up. Although this class has good depth at a few positions, there aren't many game-changers at the top of the draft, most notably the quarterbacks. For that reason, I think they will stay at the number two overall pick.

The player most often connected to the 49ers in mock drafts is Stanford DL Solomon Thomas. He's been selected in 42 mock drafts according to the Webzone's database. Even though I like Solomon Thomas, I don't think he's worthy of such a high pick. Where would he fit in our new 4-3 scheme? Can he play the LEO position? Statistically, there are better pass rushers in this class. I believe he's better suited inside at DT. The 49ers have used their past two top draft picks on defensive lineman. In 2015, they selected Arik Armstead out of Oregon. In 2016, they selected DeForest Buckner, again, out of Oregon. I highly doubt we would draft a defensive lineman three years in a row. Cross Solomon Thomas off the list!

Next is the quarterback position. As I mentioned briefly, the quarterbacks in this class are considered very weak overall. There is talent, but most of them are inexperienced and need at least a year of NFL coaching to be ready. The 49ers have met with many of the top names in this class, (Trubisky, Watson, Mahomes, Kizer, Webb) but again, I don't think any of them are worthy of such a high pick. Cross the QB position off the list!

As for RB, LSU's Leonard Fournette has been gaining momentum in recent weeks. He could be a game changer and someone around whom Kyle Shanahan could build his offense. However, the RB position has been devalued over the years as most teams have gone with a "RB by committee" approach. Shanahan has brought longtime RB coach Bobby Turner along with him. Turner has had a lengthy history with Shanahan's father, Mike Shanahan. It was a very good hire. History shows that although Turner has developed a long list of good RBs, most of them were not high draft picks. Add the handful of RBs we already have, including Carlos Hyde, and that's why I don't believe Leonard Fournette will be the pick. Much like Hyde, I'm also concerned about Fournette's physical running style leaving him susceptible to injuries.

I'm also going to cross off a pair of defensive backs, CB Marshon Lattimore and safety Malik Hooker from Ohio State. I like both players, but I'm concerned about injuries and durability. One of the red-flags on Lattimore is the fact that he dealt with hamstring injuries throughout his collegiate career and I'm concerned that it could become a nagging problem. Additionally, he has only one year of production. For those reasons I don't think he'll be selected as high as some have projected.

Malik Hooker has that ball hawking skill and returner-like vision. No question he put together some impressive tape last season, however, he's really only played one season. According to CSN Chicago, "Hooker redshirted 2014, barely played in 2015 and then exploded last fall. One year of tape isn't much — even if it's excellent tape — which makes Hooker more of a projection. It's worth noting that Hooker played hurt at the end of the year and underwent hip surgery to repair a torn labrum and sports hernia surgeries on both sides in January, too. While Hooker said at the combine he's expecting to be ready to participate in rookie minicamp in mid-May, he carries a risk for a team picking in the top five." I say "Buyer Beware" with Marshon Lattimore and Malik Hooker.

This leads me to my prediction for the 49ers first round draft choice. With the second pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers select: Safety Jamal Adams from LSU!

By many accounts, Jamal Adams is the cleanest pick in the draft, having played for three years at LSU without any injury related red flags or off-the-field issues. Adams is a very impressive young man. He's the son of a former NFL running back, George Adams, who was a first-round pick of the NY Giants in 1985 and part of their Super Bowl Championship winning team in '86. Although some think he's merely an "in the box" strong safety, I believe he's versatile enough to play both free safety and strong safety at the next level. John Lynch and new 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh have made it known just how important the safety position is in the new 4-3 under scheme. Through my research, I've noticed that Adams has been getting comparisons to his contemporaries such as Eric Berry and Earl Thomas. In addition, it has been well-documented that Adams is a natural leader inside the locker room. In my opinion, Jamal Adams is a tone-setter for the type of players GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan are looking for as they rebuild the 49ers and reestablish our championship-winning culture.
The opinions within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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