49ers

49ers could land two first-round NFL draft picks in trade back from No. 2

49ers could land two first-round NFL draft picks in trade back from No. 2

When the 49ers made the trade with the Chicago Bears two years ago to move back one spot in the NFL draft, there was some sense of mystery in their draft room. The 49ers were not sure if the Bears were going to select the player San Francisco would have taken in that spot.

Team executive Paraag Marathe figured the Bears were targeting Mitchell Trubisky because he felt it was unlikely a team would pay the price to move up that high in the draft to select a player at a position other than quarterback.

The 49ers had Solomon Thomas rated as the draft's No. 2 prospect behind Myles Garrett. Thomas still was available when the 49ers went back on the clock.

Again, the 49ers have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft. And, it seems logical, that if they have the opportunity to trade back, it would be with a team that has its eyes on a quarterback.

Another question is whether there is a team selecting in some proximity to the 49ers that would be determined to add a quarterback -- most likely, Kyler Murray. That would mean the Cardinals ultimately decide to go with a defensive player -- Nick Bosa or Quinnen Williams -- with the No. 1 overall selection.

If another team has interest in moving up to No. 2, the 49ers would be able to pick up at least a second first-round draft pick, giving them three selections within the first 36 slots in the draft.

If Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock want Murray fully assimilated for the Raiders’ move to Las Vegas in 2020, they certainly have the draft capital to make a deal with the 49ers.

In such a scenario, the Raiders could send the 49ers their picks at Nos. 4 and 24 overall. The 49ers, most likely, also would acquire the Raiders’ fourth-round pick (No. 106) while shipping back a sixth-round selection (No. 176).

Then the 49ers could end up with Kentucky edge rusher Josh Allen at No. 4, and perhaps pick up a top cornerback, such as Rock Ya-Sin of Temple or Washington’s Byron Murphy, at No. 24 overall.

The New York Giants are expected to select a quarterback who would be viewed as Eli Manning’s heir apparent at some point in this week's draft. The Giants wanted the 49ers’ pick at No. 2 in a proposed trade for Odell Beckham, but they were not willing to give up the No. 6 overall spot.

In order for the Giants to make a deal for the 49ers’ first-round selection, they would have to hand over their first-round picks at Nos. 6 and 17, along with a likely fifth-round pick at No. 132 overall.

[RELATED: 49ers should find starters at edge rusher, wide receiver]

Perhaps the 49ers still could select Allen at No. 6. And at No. 17, the 49ers could think outside the box and pair tight end George Kittle with his former Iowa teammate, Noah Fant. The 49ers need another threat or two in the passing game, and No. 17 is likely too high for any of the wide receivers.

Here is a look at the 49ers' current list of picks for the NFL draft:

49ERS 2019 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: No. 2 overall
2. Second round: No. 36 overall
3. Third round: No. 67 overall
4. Fourth round: No. 104 overall
5. Sixth round: No. 176 overall
6. Sixth round: No. 212 overall (compensatory)

49ers roster analysis: Future secondary needs warrant action now

49ers roster analysis: Future secondary needs warrant action now

This is the eighth installment of a nine-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020, and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

Today, a look at the 49ers’ defensive backs.

Under contract (signed through)

-CB Richard Sherman (2020)
-S Jaquiski Tartt (2020)
-CB K’Waun Williams (2020)
-CB Ahkello Witherspoon (2020)
-S Tarvarius Moore (2021)
-CB/S D.J. Reed (2021)
-S Marcell Harris (2020)
-CB Tim Harris (2022)
-CB Teez Tabor (2020)
-S Jacob Thieneman (2021)
-CB Jermaine Kelly (2021)
-S Chris Edwards (2021)
-S Derrick Kindred (2020)

Sherman enters the third year of the three-year, $27.15 million contract he negotiated with the 49ers after the Seattle Seahawks released him in March of 2018. Tartt and Williams also are on the final years of their contracts, so the 49ers could look to extend any of them during the offseason.

Expiring contracts

-S Jimmie Ward (UFA)
-CB Jason Verrett (UFA)
-CB Dontae Johnson (UFA)
-CB Emmanuel Moseley (EFA)

Ward is a priority to re-sign. It’s just a matter of how much attention he receives on the open market (if he gets that far) and how far the 49ers will go to re-sign him.

A year ago, Verrett signed a one-year, prove-it contract. He went on injured reserve early in the season.

Moseley will be back on the team. He has no outside negotiating power because of his status as an exclusive-rights free agent.

What needs to happen

The defensive backfield situation might be the most complex to figure out for the 49ers this offseason. Ward is scheduled to be a free agent, but the 49ers also have three of their other top-five defensive backs entering the final years of their contracts.

First things first, they have to figure out how to approach Ward. They would like to retain him, but there might also be some hesitancy because of his injury history. Ward finally played a 16-game season, but that was only after missing the first three games, then picking up three games in the postseason.

Sherman, who turns 32 next month, had an outstanding regular season. Do the 49ers open talks with him about extending his contract?

On the other side, Moseley ended up as the starter over Witherspoon, who enters the final year of his deal. After the demotion, Witherspoon asked to play more special teams. Moseley generally played well, but he was in the middle of the biggest play of Super Bowl LIV.

Tartt, the starting strong safety, also enters the final year of his contract. He and Ward were high-school teammates and work well together.

Williams, one of the top nickel backs in the league, also is entering the final year of his deal.

The 49ers have just one pick in the first four rounds of the draft. This is why it makes a lot of sense to trade back (and trade back and trade back) to acquire selections in the second, third and fourth rounds.

This is a good draft for defensive backs. And while drafting for need is not often advisable, it becomes a lot better of a plan when it is a need that is projected a year down the road.

[RELATED: Ascending linebackers should make group better in 2020]

Expectations

The 49ers had the best pass defense in the league last season. Despite playing with a lead for most games, the 49ers allowed just 169.2 yards passing per game. That was the lowest average passing yards allowed in the NFL in more than a decade.

It will be nearly impossible to match that level of pass defense of a year ago. So much of the success the 49ers experienced against the pass was a product of the team’s pass rush. That will likely have to be the case again next season.

Teams generally shied away from Sherman’s side. But Sherman gave up a couple of big plays in the postseason, including one late in the Super Bowl. He likely will be challenged more in 2020, which will give him more opportunities to add to his career total of 39 interceptions (including postseason).

The 49ers must find more consistency on the other side. Moseley enters the offseason as the starter. Witherspoon is competing for a role. Tartt appears locked in as one starting safety, but the other spot is wide open at this point.

If Ward does not return to the team, Moore could be next in line to step in as a starter.

If the 49ers use an early draft pick on a safety or cornerback (or both), then competition could potentially lead to a rookie or two in the team’s starting defensive backfield.

49ers roster analysis: Ascending linebackers should make group better in 2020

49ers roster analysis: Ascending linebackers should make group better in 2020

This is the seventh installment of a nine-part series that examines the 49ers’ roster coming out of the 2019 season, looks ahead to 2020 and outlines the offseason challenges facing general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan on a position-by-position basis.

Today, a look at the 49ers’ linebackers.

Under contract (signed through)

-Kwon Alexander (2022)
-Fred Warner (2021)
-Dre Greenlaw (2022)
-Mark Nzeocha (2021)
-Azeez Al-Shaair (2021)
-Joey Alfieri (2021)
-Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles (2021)

The 49ers and Alexander agreed to a contract restructure in November that saves the team more than $8 million in cap space for the 2020 season. His salary is set to leap to $12.55 million in 2021. Three voidable years were added to his contract. He is still scheduled for unrestricted free agency after the 2022 season.

Expiring contracts

-Elijah Lee (RFA)

Lee was among the 49ers’ final cuts and was signed to the practice squad. He was promoted to the active roster for the final eight games of the regular season after Alexander went on injured reserve. Lee saw action in each of the 49ers’ three postseason games as a core special-teams contributor.

What needs to happen

The 49ers’ only real decision is with Lee, who is a restricted free agent. The lowest tender of $2.144 million is probably too much, but the 49ers can look to re-sign him to a minimum level contract.

But even with some uncertainty surrounding Lee, the 49ers appear set with their starters and backups. The 49ers certainly do not need to spend free-agent money to add a player. And they do not need to use one of their top draft picks to bring in a linebacker, either.

[RELATED: 49ers roster analysis: Work needed to keep up defensive line dominance]

Expectations

This position group is comprised of players who are all ascending. The unit was good in 2019. It should be better in 2020.

Warner was one of the breakout stars for the 49ers as a second-year player. He had an interception of Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl that looked, at the time, to be one of the big plays in that game. Warner believes he can make improvements in all areas, including the production of more game-changing types of plays.

Alexander sustained a torn pectoral in the middle of the season. Then, worked hard to get back for the playoffs. Although he settled back into the 49ers’ defense as a part-time player, Alexander still served an important role on the team due to his leadership and energy.

Greenlaw became an every-down player after Alexander’s injury and made one of the most memorable plays of the season when he stopped Seattle Seahawks tight end Jacob Hollister just inches short of the goal line to preserve the 49ers’ Week 17 win to clinch the NFC West and home-field advantage in the playoffs. It will be difficult to keep Greenlaw off the field.

Al-Shaair, who defied the odds to win his roster spot last season as an undrafted rookie, and Nzeocha are solid backups and core special-teams players, too.