Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports


49ers thoughts after the 2019 NFL Draft

Al Sacco
Apr 30, 2019 at 8:45 AM2


The 2019 NFL Draft is in the books and we now have a pretty good idea of what the San Francisco 49ers will look like this upcoming campaign. Overall, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan did a good job of adding talent throughout the offseason, and it's hard not to be at least a little optimistic that fortunes are about to improve for a team that's seemed to be snake bitten the past couple of years. Here are my thoughts as to where things currently stand with the Niners:

1) Nick Bosa was the right pick. There was some debate as to whether the 49ers would go with the Ohio State star or Alabama's Quinnen Williams, but in the end the edge rusher won out. What the addition of Bosa does is bring in another edge player who has the ability to wreck a game and also close out wins. Bosa has a high motor, works hard and is a student of the game. Barring injury, he'll at worst be a good NFL player, and has the ceiling to be an elite threat.

Now, San Francisco has a complete and devastating defensive line with Bosa, Dee Ford, DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Solomon Thomas. It also has depth with the likes of D.J. Jones, Sheldon Day, Ronald Blair and Kentavius Street. The last time the Niners had at least three players with 10 or more sacks in a season was back in 1997 when Dana Stubblefield (15), Chris Doleman (12) and Kevin Greene (10.5) accomplished the feat. It's not crazy to think that Bosa, Ford and Buckner have a chance to do it again.

2) There was a lot of talk about the team addressing the secondary, but they didn't do so until the sixth-round when Virginia cornerback Tim Harris was selected. The reason Lynch and company didn't make a move earlier to improve the back end of the defense is because San Francisco had already invested five picks on the secondary in the 2017 and 2018 drafts. At some point, you have to stay the course and let the young guys develop. It doesn't make sense to keep drafting the same position over and over when you're still unsure as to what you actually have there in the first place.

Could this approach backfire? Absolutely. Richard Sherman is a year older and beyond him cornerback is nothing but question marks. There's also uncertainty at safety as Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward can't stay on the field. Unless those two have spent the offseason getting Adamantium injected into their bodies, safety could be another revolving door situation in 2019.

3) The interior of the offensive line worries me, and it should worry you too. The 49ers gave up 125 quarterback hits last season (second worst in the NFL) and a lot of that was due to the inconsistent play at guard and center. Jimmy Garoppolo alone was sacked 13 times and hit a total of 22 times in three starts in 2018. It's unacceptable to have your quarterback take that kind of punishment.

The health of center Weston Richburg is something to watch here, as he battled injuries throughout last season. A return to form for him could have a ripple effect on the entire line, and sure up what appears to be a weak link at the moment. San Francisco did sign undrafted free agent Ross Reynolds from Iowa and also former Atlanta Falcon Ben Garland as competition at guard, but right now it's hard to see either of those players making a significant contribution. The recently released Brandon Fusco, who started all 16 games for the 49ers in 2017, could be a name to watch if the team is considering bringing in more competition.

4) Did the wide receivers get put on notice or what? The Niners were the only team in the NFL in 2018 to not have anyone at the position group gain at least 500 receiving yards and were one of only two teams to not have a wide out catch at least 45 passes. A big reason for that was four of the top five guys on the depth chart missed games due to injury.

To combat what was without a doubt one of the weak points of the roster, Shanahan identified two players to help reshape this unit in Deebo Samuel and Jalen Hurd. Samuel is strong, physical and can play inside or outside, but will probably end up replacing Pierre Garçon as the 49ers' "Z" receiver. Samuel has the ability to shine in Shanahan's offense, however, like the rest of this group, has some durability concerns as his Freshman and Junior seasons were cut short due to injuries.

Hurd is more of a project, but for a creative offensive mind he could end up being an interesting chess piece to work with. At 6'5, he brings size to go along with versatility, having played both receiver and running back in college. Shanahan will no doubt use him all over the field with regularity.

With Sameul, Hurd and Dante Pettis all but assured big roles, what to watch now is who will be left out. Marquise Goodwin is probably safe as a part-time, Taylor Gabriel type, but beyond that it will be fierce competition for the other one or two spots.

5) Overall, I thought the 49ers had a pretty good draft. I loved the Bosa and Samuel picks, and understood the thought process with Hurd. Day three got a little weird for me though with the selection of Mitch Wishnowsky in the fourth-round. I figured a punter was on the agenda at some point in the weekend considering they didn't really have one, but I thought it would come much later. Some would argue if he's the player you want just take him, but for me a punter at that point doesn't make sense. Definitely a polarizing debate.

Beyond that I did like the Kaden Smith pick, as he's an efficient blocking tight end who can also provide value as a possession receiver. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw seems destined to be a special teamer to me, while tackle Justin Skule and Harris might have a hard time making the team. If I had to grade the draft I'd probably give it a solid B, maybe even a B+ because the first two picks were so strong in my opinion.

6) Look, it may seem like I'm nitpicking at some things here but the truth of the matter is that the 49ers should be greatly improved in 2019. If they can escape the injury bug, or at least minimize it, this is a 10-win team. Even last season, as ugly as it seemed at times, they were only a few plays away from seven or eight wins. Shanahan is 9-7 as a head coach with Garoppolo or Nick Mullens behind center. When you take that into account, there's no reason San Francisco can't at least challenge for a playoff spot this upcoming season.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


2 Comments

  • Paul
    The secondary should greatly benefit from the more pressure that is expected. I'm concerned with all the projects, and over payment of players. The FB Jus...was way too expensive. Richburg isn't special, but was way overpaid. Kwon, I hope is great but he is coming of a major injury, and they paid a lot for him. Why, do the 49ers keeps paying premium prices for injured players? How many great College kick off and punt returners do they need? Every year some draft person says the new 49er can help in the return game. What happened to the previous years Devin Hester? Pettis and Reed joined a team that already had a capable returner in Trent Taylor. The punter isn't the worst move ever. Pinion was he wasn't even all ACC, and nobody would have drafted that guy a few years ago.
    May 2, 2019 at 11:05 AM
    1
  • Jack Buchanan
    A great article by Al Sacco. Well reasoned and complete. The Wishnowsky thing is a difficult question.But I'm giving the Shanlynch team a mulligan on this one. They say about the draft that if you really want someone you go and get them. They really wanted this guy. Because he won the best punter in college ball Award twice. There are a whole lot of punters that can kick it far but many fewer are able to kick it both high AND far . Wishnowsky can do that all the time. He has incredible hang time which neutralizes the opposing receiver to little or no return. Wishnowsky can change field position consistently to the Niners advantage. He can spin the ball in various ways and is very accurate on the all important kick out of bounds. He was the most accomplished punter in the draft. He will be able to come in in right away and be a legit starter. And they get him on a rookie 4 year deal. They anticipate Wishnowsky will punt for them for 10 years. He can also kick off for them and is a very good holder. Maybe Robbie Gould would stay if he knew he had a good holder. Yes, we paid a heavy price for him but we got a guy who can flip a game with a single kick-pinning the enemy deep in t
    Apr 30, 2019 at 8:26 PM
    3
    Response: Thanks Jack!

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