I present the case for the Niners to pick Christian McCaffrey with their first pick regardless of whether it is at #2 overall or a lower 1st round pick if they are able to trade down. In my previous mocks, I had wanted them to pick the best available LB with Haason Reddick being my choice. After thinking about the Niners offense, what they have done during the off-season, and who they currently have, McCaffrey would be a perfect fit for Shanahan’s offense.
McCaffrey has special talents that nobody else in the draft has. His ability to run with speed, shiftiness, and power present unique problems for the defense. On top of that, he has great hands which will allow Shanahan to use him as a slot receiver. He’d be brilliant for screen passes out of the back field, also. Lastly, he is very skilled as a punt returner. I wouldn’t use him on kick-off returns as that is the most dangerous play in football. Thus, with his versatility, Shanahan can draw up plays that present matchup nightmares for the defense.
With the signing of bruising FB Kyle Zuszczyk and our own RB Carlos Hyde, we may have something very special on offense. The signing of WR Pierre Garcon and WR Marquise Goodwin were much needed in a weak receiving core that one can argue may have been the worst in the NFL last year.
If the Niners aren’t able to trade down and they still pick McCaffrey at #2 overall, the “experts” will say that it is not a good “value” pick. By definition, value means how valuable can a player be for the team throughout the season and career with that team. If McCaffrey can make a positive impact on the Niners, does it really matter when he was picked in the draft?
Additionally, I think that Lynch/Shanahan are doing a very smart thing by letting teams know of their interests in QB Michell Trubisky and RB Leonard Fournette. They may indeed have real interests in these talented players, but they may also be using them as a smoke-screen to entice teams to move up to the Niners overall #2 pick. I think the overall success of this year’s draft class for the Niners will be dependent upon being able to trade down and get additional picks. The draft is fairly deep in LB’s, CB’s, Safeties, and WR’s… all positions of need for the Niners. In term of the QB, the Niners should go with Brian Hoyer this year, then acquire Kirk Cousins in free agency next year. Additionally, they will have plenty of draft picks next year so I’d like to see them package picks and/or players to go after USC QB Sam Darnold to be their future.
Thus, let’s pick McCaffrey and begin a new special era for the Niners.