By: Luke Shimer
The future of the 49ers is bright with third overall draft pick Trey Lance coming and seven more draft picks to add to their stellar team for the 2021-2022 season. This draft is extremely important with the 49ers coming off of a bad season finishing last in their division.
The big question is if Trey Lance will acquire the starting position as a quarterback over Jimmy Garoppolo. Many analysts predicted that the 49ers would pick Mac Jones or Justin Fields, which made their choice of Trey Lance a bit of a surprise. After finishing last in the NFC West, the 49ers have caused many to infer that they are headed for a comeback season and have the potential to make the playoffs.
The 49ers acquired the No. 3 overall pick from a trade with the Dolphins, and it sets them up to select one of the highly touted quarterbacks in this year’s draft. With Trevor Lawrence and Zach Wilson likely going one-two, Mac Jones was floated as an early favorite to land in San Francisco. However there were two other quarterback prospects, Trey Lance and Justin Fields, in the mix for the 49ers at No. 3, and head coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch seemed to be giving all three a long look. Shanahan and Lynch attended the second pro days of Ohio State’s Justin Fields and North Dakota State’s Trey Lance before making their decision with Lance. Picking Lance continues the 49ers’ trend of picking young dynamic quarterbacks for showing out during the season.
After the 49ers took their quarterback of choice in the first round, they turned their attention toward defensive holes. Nick Bosa’s ACL tear in Week Two exposed the lack of defensive line depth in 2020, especially since San Francisco traded away defensive tackle DeForest Buckner before the season began. This year’s draft provided a chance to bolster depth along the defensive line, beginning as early as the second round with the addition of guard Aaron Banks.
Last year, San Francisco saw multiple draft picks make an immediate impact on the field. This is what they hope for their newest recruits. The 49ers used the No. 14 overall pick in 2020 to take defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, who went on to start 12 games. Later in the first round, they selected receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who tallied 748 receiving yards in his impressive rookie season. Offensive tackle Colton McKivitz saw the field in 14 games and started three.
The running game is due for a significant overhaul. Shanahan drafted a pair of running backs, Trey Sermon and Eliah Mitchell, after not drafting one since 2017. They have just been rolling with a slew of former undrafted free agents in recent seasons. The team added a pair of guards, Aaron Banks and Jaylon Moore, to improve depth and potentially upgrade the team’s run blocking along the offensive line, particularly with Aaron Banks, whom they added in the second round and who’s projected to start.
There were also areas the team didn’t address. It was the first time since 2002 the team didn’t invest a draft pick in a receiver. Nor was there a backup tight end to complement George Kittle or an edge rusher to fill in behind Nick Bosa, Dee Ford and Samson Ebukam.
Will that hurt Shanahan and Lynch as they continue to tinker with the roster ahead of this summer’s training camp? Only time will tell. For now, it’s safe to say that the 49ers are well set up for success in the future.