The Niners currently have 9 picks in the 2021 draft and could add a 10th as compensation if Robert Salah lands a head coaching job which is a certainty. They will need as many picks as they can get as the Niners have 41 free agents looking for new jobs. The Niners select #12 overall.
In my last post, I listed the 41 free agents and which ones Lynch and Shanahan should try to keep. In his final press conference of a disappointing year, Shanahan said that he is glad that the 2020 season is over and all he wants is to get all his players back for the 2021 season. The sad reality is that he won’t be able to keep many of the players on his current roster due to salary cap restrictions.
Thus, it is imperative that the Niners get as many draft picks as possible. I’m hoping that they do not try to move up in the draft costing them valuable picks. As good as this roster is, they’ll have to replace some key players in key positions to remain competitive.
They have the 12th pick in Round 1. Who they select will depend on who they can re-sign and which free agents they can potentially land from other teams. I won’t even try to address other teams’ free agents as they all will have large $ signs in front of their names.
Roster upgrade needs:
- O-line: If they can’t re-sign LT Trent Williams, then LT becomes their highest priority. Even if they are able to re-sign Trent, the Niners must upgrade at Center and Right Guard. I like Ben Garland at either Center or Right Guard but he is on IR and becomes a free agent. I’m hoping that he recovers fully and they are able to re-sign him. Daniel Brunskill is a versatile backup whom we should retain, Colton McKivitz is a rookie who needs to improve and Justin Skule simply is not the answer. I watched Ohio State dominate a very good Clemson defense. Wyatt Davis (Right Guard) and Josh Myers (Center) stood out. Also, Creed Humphrey (Center from Oklahoma) should be in the Niners shopping cart. All three are 1st round pick material but all three may be available to the Niners at #12. In terms of LT’s, Penei Sewell (Oregon) will be picked in the top 5, but Samuel Cosmi (Texas) and Alex Leatherwood (Alabama) will be available at #12. One last thing about the O-Line. Mike McGlinchy is an elite run blocker but a piss-poor pass protection blocker. If he doesn’t improve his pass blocking, the likelihood of more QB injuries will remain high.
- Corner Backs: Even if the Niners can re-sign Jason Verrett, Emanuel Moseley and K-Wuan Williams, the CB position remains a critical need as they are in a division with DeAndre Hopkins, DK Metcalf, and Cooper Kupp. The top three CB’s in the draft are Caleb Farley (Virginia Tech), Patrick Surtain III (Alabama), and Jaycee Horn (South Carolina). All three will be picked in the 1st round. One or two of them may fall to the Niners at #12.
- Edge: If the Niners can’t retain Kerry Hyder, then this position may become their highest priority. The Niners must make a decision on Dee Ford. He is a dominant player when he plays but he has been injured more often than he has played. Gregory Rousseau (Miami) stands out and may be available at #12.
- Safety: Jaquiski Tartt most likely played his last game as a Niner. With Jimmie Ward, Tarvarious Moore, and Marcel Harris, this group looks fairly solid. But, if the Niners loose either Moore or Harris to free agency, finding another Safety becomes very important. There isn’t an impact safety in this year’s draft so the Niners can look for a diamond in the rough with a lower round pick.
- Backup QB: After further assessment of Jimmy Garoppolo, he is the best option as the Niner QB going forward. In a previous post, I predicted that Alex Smith can come back to the Niners and hold down the fort while he trains the next franchise QB that the Niners draft. After all, Alex trained Kaepernick and Mahomes who both became Super Bowl QB’s. Nothing can be ruled out. There are already 6 head coaching vacancies. Every new coach will want to bring in their guy so there could be a lot of QB movements. I’m particularly interested to see what happens with Sam Darnold if the new Jets coach selects Justin Fields or Zach Wilson with their #2 pick. Darnold is a very good young QB having a low salary who was not given the chance to prove himself playing for a very bad organization. Also, every “elite” QB in the league has had some mediocre performances this year (including the old ones like Brady, Brees, Roethlisberger, and Rivers) so there could be some surprising QB movements. Jimmy G has a 22-8 record as a Niner starter and he took them to the Super Bowl last year. The Niners are 6-24 with Mullens and Beathard. While Jimmy G is expensive, his salary is in the middle of the pack for QB’s. The more worry-some issue with Jimmy G is that he has missed 30 games due to injuries. This is the reason that I feel that upgrading the O-line is a top priority for the Niners. Both Shanahan and Lynch have publically said that Jimmy is their QB going forward. But nothing is a guarantee. If Bill Belichick or Robert Saleh or any other team with a new coach offers the Niners a deal that they can’t refuse for Jimmy G., they may pull the trigger. The top tier QB’s in this year’s draft will most likely be gone before the #12 pick. Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson will all be drafted in the top 10 while there is a possibility that Trey Lance and Mac Jones may be available. As I feel the O-Line, CB and Edge are higher priority, I would not draft a QB with the 12th pick unless Zach Wilson or perhaps Trey Lance falls to #12. If these top tier QB’s are gone by 12, then I like QB Jamie Newman (Georgia) as a third round pick if he is still there. Newman opted out of playing this year due to COVID. He is a mobile QB with a big arm. Shanahan did say that he may want to shift to a QB like Kyler Murray and Russel Wilson as they present so many problems for defenses.
So, hold on tight as free agency signings will have a direct impact on what the Niners do in the draft. My only hope is that they hang onto all of their 10 picks instead of packaging a lot of valuable picks to move up and draft a QB who may or not work out. Just ask the Washington Football Team who drafted Dwayne Haskins (Ohio State) with the 15th overall pick in the 2019 draft. They released him this year…