No pressure – Shanahan and Lynch only have to come close to replicating Walsh’s 1986 masterpiece

Hopefully you didn’t click the link hoping for a mock draft. As I’ve written probably 10 times since starting this site, I would never be confused for a YouTube scout. I don’t know who has the best hip fluidity, who sets the edge best, who has the best motor, who would be better suited for a 4-3, a 3-4, a power scheme or a zone blocking scheme.

And I don’t watch the NFL meat market, err, Combine.

All I really know about college football is what I’ve seen, and since I’m a de facto Washington fan (my wife is a UW alum), all I can tell you is whoever gets Kevin King or Budda Baker will be very pleased with their selection. John Ross could be in that category too, but I’m still on the fence with him. Lots of speed with Ross, but he’s not the biggest and I seem to remember a few drops that could’ve been avoided.

Anyway, and far more relevant than my interest in the Huskies, the 49ers face a draft situation tonight that is totally bonkers. They have the No. 2 overall pick in a draft without a top-two quarterback (as far as we know). If Cleveland takes Myles Garrett, the 49ers could either draft Solomon Thomas, one of the top safeties (Jamal Adams seems likeliest, but who knows), or they could go nuts and draft DeShaun Watson or Leonard Fournette to excite the fans and rankle the draftniks.

They could trade down from No. 2 if they find anyone willing to move up, but this draft is bereft of no-doubt-he’ll-be-elite QBs. If the Browns do something really Brownish and select someone other than Garrett, the 49ers could either get the pass rusher everyone knows they need, or hold out and trade the pick to a team that wants Garrett even more, and reap the benefits of several draft picks that’ll boost a team with numerous needs.

Here’s what I know: Even though Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch have six-year deals that indicate excellent job stability, they can’t just hit a home run during this draft. They have to throw a perfect freaking game. They need a haul that tops even the 49ers’ 1981 draft, which brought the team Ronnie Lott, Eric Wright (the earlier, far better version), Carlton Williamson and Pete Kugler. The roster is so porous, Shanahan and Lynch need a draft like the franchise’s all-time best, the 1986 class, when Bill Walsh (with John McVay manning the phones) grabbed EIGHT starters (Larry Roberts, Tom Rathman, Tim McKyer, John Taylor, Charles Haley, Steve Wallace, Kevin Fagan, Don Griffin) out of their first NINE picks.

The 49ers did this less than two years after winning a Super Bowl, and this draft — along with a one or two productive players selected in every other draft in the ’80s (other than ’89), and the Steve Young trade — allowed the dynasty to flourish for over a decade instead of fizzling out in the late-’80s.

  • The 49ers could use a starting tight end to make Vance McDonald a secondary option at the position and push Garrett Celek to the bench.
  • They need a speedy running back. Who knows, if they don’t like Carlos Hyde (I’m not a huge fan, since he insists on stubbornly chasing contact instead of avoiding), they could trade him if another team is willing to give up a second or third round pick or a productive player at another position.
  • They need wide receivers of all shapes and sizes, including little slot guys because they can’t count on Bruce Ellington to get over his array of soft tissue injuries.
  • How about linebackers? Yeah, they need a few. Inside, outside, Mike, Sam, Will, whatever.
  • They just released a starting cornerback — for good reason, but the hole there just grew a lot bigger.
  • Trent Baalke’s gambles on Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt haven’t exactly paid off to a large degree, and if the 49ers are going to copy Seattle, they need a reasonable facsimile of Earl Thomas (which is why, if I had to guess, Adams will be the pick — not to mention Lynch played the position).
  • And, as we all know, they need a quarterback around whom to build.

I already know the obvious response here, which is: Hey, the 49ers have time! They’ve sucked for a 2.5 seasons now, so why not exercise some patience?

That makes sense, but the patience should be reserved for the rookies they draft over the next few days to blossom into starters and hopefully All-Pros. If Shanahan and Lynch botch this draft, the rebuilding process doesn’t just last an extra year, it lasts much longer — because EVERY personnel director in the NFL will give their own high draft choices more chances to succeed than they deserve, until it’s beyond obvious to everyone that they don’t have what it takes (and by “they,” I mean the players and the men who chose them). We don’t need to wade through the list of Trent Baalke picks to think of several mediocre guys who meet this criteria.

And with our old pal Trader Trent in mind, here’s a short list of requests for the 49ers from someone who’ll never be called the “Next Mel Kiper Jr.”

  1. If the 49ers trade down, make sure it’s early, and for first, second and third round choices. None of this “our fourth this year for a later fourth and a sixth” or “our fifth round pick for a sixth-rounder and two seventh-rounders next year” BS. Maybe it wasn’t a massive problem that they did this, but late-round maneuvering seemed to take up too way much of the previous regime’s energy, along with Baalke’s obsession with guys who missed large chunks of their final college seasons. Just draft the best guys available and only swap later picks if the deal is too ridiculously good to turn down. Keep it simple, Shanny.
  2. Stock up on players who produced in college. If Shanahan and Lynch have to use their imaginations to envision a player being productive in the NFL, they should stay away.
  3. Select guys who are healthy. NFL football (and that includes NFL doctor behavior) isn’t conducive to healing. I shouldn’t even have to suggest any of this, but … well, you know.
  4. If they trade down from No. 2, figure out a way to get Baker and/or King. Sorry, had to fit that one in.
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