The 49ers rolled into the 2020 NFL Draft with two first-round picks, a couple desired prospects and left as one of the most improved teams in the NFL.
And no, this isn't hyperbole.
The 49ers traded down one spot from No. 13 to No. 14 and drafted South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw, a raw, powerful trench monster who can help fill the void left by DeForest Buckner. Later in the first round, the 49ers traded up to No. 25 overall and added Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk, an explosive athlete with a massive catch radius who excels after the catch. Head coach Kyle Shanahan claimed Aiyuk was the top receiver on the 49ers' board along with Oklahoma's CeeDee Lamb.
Then, on Day 3, the 49ers traded two draft picks to Washington for Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams to make up for the retirement of Joe Staley.
The 49ers have been seen as one of the winners of the 2020 NFL Draft and the praise has been flowing in ever since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell turned off the cameras and went back to eating M&Ms in solitude.
So, let's get to the praise.
"For the San Francisco 49ers to not have picks in the middle of this draft -- none in the second, third or fourth rounds -- and for John Lynch to say to us, 'We're looking to trade out. We need to trade out,'" Rich Eisen said. "For him to pick up a fourth-round pick by moving down one spot so the Bucs could take Tristan Wirfs, and then take the replacement for DeForest Buckner who you traded away for this pick ... You're getting younger in a kid Javon Kinlaw who the ruling evaluating class said was one of the best defensive tackles. He's 6-5, 324 pounds. He's a grown a-- man.
"We're going to take that fourth-round pick, put it in my back pocket and use it not in the fourth round but later on tonight to get Brandon Aiyuk," Eisen continued. "You get the receiver who you can pair with Deebo Samuel, you're already getting rid of Marquise Goodwin, so you know what your roster looks like. In terms of filling a need, Joe Staley is retiring, you know that, we don't. Washington may not. But for whatever reason, they could not get Trent Williams under contract ... You flip a five this year and a three next year, who your competitor Sean McVay said he needed a drink after it.
"So you get Trent Williams, who by the way the rest of the league needed. You get one of the best in business and you put him on the line and by the way, the reason you didn't have a two was Dee Ford. Who's on the line with Kinlaw and Armstead and Bosa. And you wound up six minutes shy of winning it all. So you improve your defending NFC championship and maybe you going up to 25 to get Aiyuk caused the Packers to say, 'OK, we can't get the guy we were identifying for our receiver. Let's go get Jordan Love.' And if that creates a huge problem in Green Bay with the quarterback and the front office, that is an added extra cherry on top, a sort of Jedi maneuver that would put John Lynch's name all over the GM of the Year trophy."
Don't worry, it doesn't stop there.
Everyone likes acing tests and Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio thinks the 49ers got an A-plus in this draft.
"I'm telling you, they should write a book about how they pulled this off," Florio said of the Williams trade. "This is the ultimate in NFL four-dimensional chess that the 49ers ended up with Trent Williams."
Chris Simms echoed the sentiments.
"This is the kind of moves and magic a really functional not dysfunctional franchise makes," Simms said, "It says a lot about the leadership of the 49ers not only Jed York but also Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch. There's no doubt, they knew Joe Staley was going to retire. They did a good job keeping that under wraps. Plus, because they treated Joe Staley and he has respect for Jed York and Kyle Shanahan and John Lynch, he kind of kept his mouth shut until they acquired the asset they wanted ... This is a big-time draft by the San Francisco 49ers. They got three guys who we can all sit here and say, 'Wow, they got three guys and high level at that.' The Trent Williams at left tackle, Aiyuk at receiver because they lost Emmanuel Sanders. Oh, we traded DeForest Buckner to the Colts? Hey, we got Javon Kinlaw."
NFL Network's Dan Hanzus capped off the parade of back-slapping for the 49ers on "Good Morning Football."
"They had holes to fill and John Lynch attacked those holes," Hanzus said. "Javon Kinlaw he takes DeForest Buckner's spot. You have Brandon Aiyuk who slides in for Emmanuel Sanders and he could be an upgrade. He's an amazing athlete and the type of guy you imagine Kyle Shanahan will get real excited scheming up ways to make him a real difference-maker on that offense. And then the Trent Williams move. That's exactly the type of thing that I love because teams always assume the Super Bowl window will stay open. Look at the Jaguars these things shut in a hurry. I thought the Niners were aggressive in building on potential weaknesses and turning them into strengths. Trent Williams is a potential Hall of Famer. You replace Joe Staley in retirement with a guy who has a lot to play for including a new contract and maybe a chip on his shoulder the way things ended in Washington."
There's no doubt the 49ers were one of the winners of the 2020 NFL Draft. But will they be able to take that success and translate it into another Super Bowl run?
With Kinlaw, Aiyuk and Williams on board, they certainly have to be the favorites to represent the NFC in Tampa Bay.
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