As I predicted in my last post, the Niners did indeed pick Trey Lance as their future franchise QB. He was the only choice that made sense as Lance can be an effective pocket passer and provide the other weapon for Shanahan’s offense, mobility with speed and power.
Speaking of power, the Niners then drafted a huge guard, Aaron Banks, 6’ 5” 330 pounds, who will play next to another Golden Domer, Mike McGlinchey. He is an absolute road grater and did not allow any QB sacks. Right Guard was the weakest position on the O-Line last year and with Banks in the fold, the Niners will field one of the best O-lines in the league (LT Trent Williams, LG Laken Tomlinson, C Alex Mack, RG Aaron Banks, and RT Mike McGlinchey). In a later round, they also drafted OG Jaylon Moore, 6’ 4” 311 pounds, who is versatile and can play either Guard or Tackle. He is highly graded and was a steal in the 5th round. Daniel Brunskill has re-signed and can play any O-line position including Center. With this group, the hope is that they can keep Jimmy Garoppolo upright and healthy all season while Lance learns Shanahan’s playbook.
Keeping with the power playbook, the Niners drafted one of the best running backs in the draft, Trey Sermon. He runs with “quick” power and fits nicely into Shanahan’s run scheme. They weren’t finished with improving the running game as they also drafted RB Elijah Mitchell, another powerful and shifty runner who analysts call an absolute steal in the 6th round. The Niners are now stacked with great RB’s in Raheem Mostert, Jeff Wilson, Trey Sermon, Elijah Mitchell and Wayne Gallman who played for the NY Giants last year. Along with Juice at FB, the Niners now sport one of the best backfields in the league.
The Niners draft strategy was clear… get their future QB, then protect their QB’s, and get back to the power run game that sent them to the Super Bowl in 2019.
To round out this year’s draft, the Niners finally addressed their Defensive Backfield by drafting CB Ambrey Thomas in the 3rd round and S Talanoa Huganga in the 5th round. Thomas opted out in 2020 but had a very productive 2019 with 54 tackles, 4 INT’s and 5 fumble recoveries. He runs a blazing 4.37 40 yard dash and has good size, 5’ 11” 191 pounds and plays stronger than he looks. Huganga may be the steal of the entire draft. He was the Player of the Year in the Pac-12. Talanoa had 62 tackles (5.5 for losses), 4 INT’s and 3 QB sacks. His goal in his first year is to make the All Pro team on Special Teams. He is an absolute missile and hits like a ton of bricks. Looking at his highlights, he looks like other famous USC Safeties, Troy Polamalu and Ronnie Lott. You can bet that both Troy and Ronnie will give him valuable NFL tips. With the possibility that Richard Sherman may re-sign, he will be the on-field coach in developing the skills of both Thomas and Huganga.
Lynch and Shanahan learned from last year from all of the injuries the team suffered. In filling out this year’s roster through free agency and the draft, they made sure that they stocked up on players in key positions where injuries hit them especially hard. And, in doing so, they also set themselves up for a grueling 17 game season. I can’t think of any other NFL team that planned for a 17 game season like Lynch and Shanahan did in the 2021 NFL Draft.
As all drafts, we won’t really know how these picks will turn out but if some Lombardi Trophies can be raised in SF in the next few years, we can then properly grade them.