Photo via Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images
The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a great turnaround in the franchise despite the heartbreaking Super Bowl loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. In the 2019 NFL Draft, John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan took the best player with the number two overall pick in Nick Bosa, who bolstered their front seven to one of the best in the NFL. With the trade of their All-Pro defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the 49ers went into the draft with two 1st round picks. We will take a look at their draft selections and how each player will fit into the potential 53-man roster.
No. 14 overall pick: Javon Kinlaw, DT, South Carolina.
San Fransico have two glaring holes coming into the draft, wide receiver and secondary. Though both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb were on the board, they decided to pass on both to take the best pass rushing Defensive Tackle in Javon Kinlaw. In the offseason, Lynch traded DeForest Buckner, a pro bowl DT, to the Indianapolis Colts for the 13th pick. This move may confuse people, but it all comes down to the salary cap. The San Francsico 49ers sought a different route rather than paying DeForest Buckner to become the 2nd highest paid Defensive Tackle. Kinlaw frees up cap space for future extensions, but also going younger with potential of similar production. The 6’5” 324 pound defensive lineman has a great bull rush technique, but needs to find a way to control his power to reach his full potential. He can slide into Buckner’s former role without any problem, given that he will be lined up with Nick Bosa and Dee Ford.
No. 25 overall pick: Brandon Aiyuk, WR, Arizona State.
After trading back with Tampa Bay and receiving an additional 4th round pick, the 49ers traded back up to grab their guy in Brandon Aiyuk. Both Lynch and Shanahan both said that if Kinlaw was not available at their 14th pick, they would have chosen Aiyuk. With the departure of Emmanuel Sanders to the Saints and with the plan to move on from Marquise Goodwin, the 49ers needed to address Being thought of chosen ahead of prospects like Jerry Jeudy and Ceedee Lamb, Shanahan has big plans for the receiver out of Arizona State. Brandon Aiyuk has a similar build to another 49er receiver in Deebo Samuel. His skill sets compliment what Shanahan desires in his offensive players: being a great route runner, willing to be a blocker, and can be placed in more than 1 position. While he does sometimes struggle with press coverages, Shanahan orchestrates ways to free up his players.
No. 153 overall pick: Colton McKivitz, OT, West Virginia.
With their only 5th round pick, the 49ers selected the 6’6” 306-pound offensive lineman who could slide into guard if they needed him to. The 49ers needed to attend to the offensive line depth with injuries plaguing them every season. Being a four-year starter, he has the experience of facing the best pass rushers in the Big 12. McKivitz will most likely be used for depth, but also has a chance to start at the guard position with the departure of Mike Person, who started all but 2 games during his two-year tenure with the 49ers.
No. 190 overall pick: Charlie Woerner, TE, Georgia.
The 49ers decided to add another tight end to their arsenal of offensive weapons. Woerner did not put up numbers on the stat sheet, but was a great run blocker at Georgia. With Levine Toilolo signing with the New York Giants and Garrett Celek retiring after injuries, Woerner adds depth and lightens the load for George Kittle. The 6’5” 244 pound TE would have to compete with back-up TE Ross Dwelley, who was utilized a lot when Kyle Juszczyk went down.
No. 217 overall pick: Jauan Jennings, WR, Tennessee.
With their last pick of the draft, John Lynch picked the receiver out of Tennessee who may become a contributor if Jalen Hurd does not pan out. Standing at 6’3” and weighing 215 pounds, Jennings is not the typical Shanahan weapon. He plays big and makes defenders miss tackles just on his pure strength, but is not very elusive when trying to evade defenders. If he is put in the slot, he will most likely be someone who would be there on 3rd down plays to move the chains.
Additional Acquisition: Trent Williams, OT Redskins
The most surprising move during the draft was when Trent Williams was traded to the 49ers. This was the one move that I thought would never happen due to Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, ongoing hatred for Shanahan and his father, 3-time Super Bowl Champion, Mike. The fact that Joe Staley and the 49ers organization kept quiet about Staley’s retirement goes to show the mutual respect the two parties have for each other. Staley wants the 49ers to succeed and in keeping quiet, the 49ers were able to snag the seven-time Pro Bowler from Washington for a 2020 5th-rounder and a 2021 3rd-rounder. Williams started his career in the NFL the same time Kyle Shanahan joined the Redskins staff, so the two have a prior relationship. Williams will fit in really well with Shanahan’s zone blocking scheme.
With the limited draft capital, the 49ers were able to maneuver their way up and down the draft. In a division where you would have to face the Seahawks, who are always in games due to Russell Wilson, the young offensive guru of the Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay, and the Arizona Cardinals, who came away with a stellar offseason with both the free agent acquisitions and draft, the 49ers had to make moves in order to improve any way in order to get back into the Super Bowl picture.