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49ers used only three of eight 2019 NFL Draft picks on defense

Apr 27, 2019 at 1:36 PM


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Unless the San Francisco 49ers trade back into the 2019 NFL Draft, general manager John Lynch's class this year will be complete. And his strategy might have been something a bit "out of the box."


A year ago, the San Francisco 49ers allowed only 5,546 yards, which was 13th best in the league, yet boasted the NFL's fifth-worst scoring defense. Coordinator Robert Saleh's unit finished tied for 22nd in sack production, with 37 quarterback takedowns, and ranked dead last in defensive takeaways, boasting just two interceptions over the entirety of 2018.

Pro Football Focus also ranked the Niners secondary 32nd out of 32 teams after last season. And while the 49ers made some modest efforts to upgrade the defense through free agency, one would figure general manager John Lynch and his staff would use a defensively deep 2019 NFL Draft to land even more talent and depth.

And they did, well... sort of.

The 49ers used the No. 2 overall pick in the draft on arguably this year's top prospect, Ohio State edge rusher Nick Bosa. But Bosa was one of just three defensive selections the Niners made over the course of all seven rounds, which panned out to be the following:

  1. EDGE Nick Bosa, Ohio State
  2. Wide Receiver Deebo Samuel, South Carolina
  3. Wide Receiver Jalen Hurd, Baylor
  4. Punter Mitch Wishnowsky, Utah
  5. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw, Arkansas
  6. Tight End Kaden Smith, Stanford
  7. Offensive Tackle Justin Skule, Vanderbilt
  8. Cornerback Tim Harris, Virginia

Just three defensive selections. Three out of an eventual eight picks Lynch had at his disposal. That's a bit strange of an approach, especially considering San Francisco used a fourth rounder to target a specialist, Mitch Wishnowsky, who was the first punter taken in this year's NFL Draft. During that particular point in the draft, there was still quite a deep cast of second- and third-round graded defenders available.

The 49ers must not have been interested at all.

Equally interesting is San Francisco's decision to avoid the secondary until its final pick, grabbing Tim Harris. Perhaps Dre Greenlaw, who has good movement skills, winds up filling some sort of safety role. But that's speculation at its fullest.

Regardless, it was a little strange to see the Niners use the majority of their picks to bolster the offense, which wasn't exactly viewed as a top problem entering 2019. Outside of wide receiver, of course, and the 49ers shouldn't have any depth problems there after their day-two picks of Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. Perhaps the team is banking on Bosa, along with some of the earlier offseason additions of EDGE Dee Ford and linebacker Kwon Alexander, being a huge part of the equation for the defense.

If so, great. If not, however, it's going to be pretty easy questioning the offensive nature of Lynch's most recent NFL Draft class.
  • Written by:
    Peter Panacy has been writing about the 49ers since 2011 for outlets like Bleacher Report, Niner Noise, 49ers Webzone, and is occasionally heard as a guest on San Francisco's 95.7 FM The Game and the Niners' flagship station, KNBR 680. Feel free to follow him, or direct any inquiries to his Twitter account.
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.


1 Comment

  • Bob
    You don't just look at stats from an injury-ravaged defense and decide you have to draft defense. The object is to find players that are an upgrade or potential upgrade to guys already on the roster. Just because there were defenders available doesn't mean you draft them no matter what their guru-grade if they are unlikely to make the team. Second guessing is part of the fun but your article is very shallow compared to what a GM of an actual roster is weighing in making these decisions.
    Apr 27, 2019 at 2:29 PM
    1


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