49ers

49ers GM John Lynch believes free agency work set team up for NFL draft

49ers GM John Lynch believes free agency work set team up for NFL draft

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Through the first wave of NFL free agency, 49ers general manager John Lynch said he believes the club has set up itself for the next month's draft.

“In terms of what we did, it gave us flexibility,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday at Ohio State’s Pro Day. “We had some ideas of areas where we had to get better. And what we did gave us flexibility to just focus on going out and getting the best player available, particularly with that top spot, regardless of the position.”

The 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick in the draft. Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters spent the past two days getting to better know two of the top candidates for the 49ers’ first-round selection.

Lynch and Peters were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, on Tuesday and met with Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. On Wednesday, Lynch and Peters were heading off to have a late lunch with former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.

“He’s a great kid and a tremendous player,” Lynch said of the meeting with Williams. “I enjoyed it.”

Lynch first met Bosa in Pasadena when he attended an Ohio State practice before Rose Bowl. Bosa withdrew from school in November to focus on his rehabilitation from core muscle surgery. Bosa was working out in Southern California and came by to support his former teammates when he met Lynch. The 49ers also met with Bosa last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“He’s a good kid,” Lynch said of Bosa. “We’re looking forward to spending more time with him.”

Lynch said the 49ers have not compiled their list of 30 official pre-draft visits, but Williams and Bosa appear to be strong candidates to make a visit to Santa Clara before the draft, too.

Neither Williams nor Bosa worked out at their pro days, opting to stand on their results from the combine. Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen, whose pro day is Friday, will also not work out. Lynch and Peters will not attend Kentucky’s pro day.

“Most of the top guys aren’t working out, especially if they did well at the combine,” Lynch said. “But you have an opportunity to come sit with them and talk with them.

“I think it’s good to be out for a number of reasons. The schools we visited the last couple of days, Alabama and Ohio State, I don’t think they’re going anywhere. They’re going to be producing players, so it’s good to continue to foster those relationships that we can help them and they can help us. And it’s really invaluable to just spend time with these guys.”

Lynch said the 49ers are still in the preliminary process of putting together their draft strategy with the No. 2 overall pick. Bosa, Williams and Allen are the prohibitive favorites.

“We’ve done a lot of work on those guys,” Lynch said. “We’ve done a lot of work on the entire draft class, but it really gets hyper-focused now. We’ve condensed a lot of the information. Now the coaches come up and we put it all together.”

Part of the puzzle for the team's plan for the draft was the first week of the NFL free-agent signing period. The 49ers signed starting linebacker Kwon Alexander and acquired starting defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.

The 49ers also added potential starters at cornerback with Jason Verrett and safety with the re-signing of Jimmie Ward. The signing of wide receiver Jordan Matthews gives the 49ers a needed veteran presence to compete for significant playing time.

[RELATED: Why Quinnen Williams remains so humble before NFL draft]

The 49ers have 75 players under contract and are $37.2 million under the NFL's salary cap, according to NFLPA figures.

Lynch acknowledged the 49ers are rolling the dice on Verrett, a first-round draft pick in 2014 who has appeared in just 25 games in five seasons due to a variety of injuries.

“We recruited him hard because there were a number of people that were interested, and we’re glad we landed him,” Lynch said of Verrett. “You’re always thinking risk-reward. The potential reward with that one is pretty special. He’s made of the right stuff. We just got to see if we can help him and he can find a way to stay healthy.”

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

49ers' Nick Bosa says benefits of healthy offseason will show on field

Nick Bosa was voted the best rookie in the NFL last season.

The 49ers’ defensive end is approaching the 2020 season with even-bigger expectations for himself.

“I’ve got some pretty concrete things that I’ve been focusing on,” said Bosa, the consensus NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and chosen as the overall Rookie of the Year by the Pro Football Writers of America.

Bosa registered nine sacks during the regular season with a total of 80 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus. He added four more sacks in three postseason games.

Bosa came to the NFL with a reputation as an advanced technician. This season, he believes he will be better prepared mentally to become more of a down-to-down force.

”Last year, I didn’t really know what was going to work and what wasn’t and what was my go-to,” he said. “So just coming into games with a better plan of not wasting any time out there because you only get so many opportunities and you want to get those big numbers and help your team as best as you can and get the ball out. You have to come in with a plan and not waste any rushes.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Bosa said he has spent the past six months working on a couple of new pass-rush moves. Even before the draft last year, Bosa spoke about a cross-chop move that Aaron Donald has perfected on his way to becoming arguably the league’s best defensive player. Bosa has also been considering adding a spin move to his arsenal.

Bosa said he also has worked on making better use of his hands to ward off pass-blockers and get to the quarterback more effectively.

“I win a lot at the top of my rush, but a lot of the times I get washed by the quarterback or I don’t pose enough space and finish the plays, so that’s probably been the biggest emphasis for me,” he said. “And I’ve been working that in walk-throughs and drills all (off)-season.”

Bosa faced a number of obstacles as he prepared for his rookie season a year ago. He underwent core-muscle surgery that ended his final season at Ohio State after three games. Bosa spent months rehabbing and traveling the country to meet with teams during the pre-draft process.

After the 49ers selected Bosa with the No. 2 overall draft pick, a hamstring strain during the offseason program sidelined him until training camp. Then, early in camp he sustained a high-ankle sprain that kept him out until Week 1 of the regular season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa 'not going to blame the ref' for big Super Bowl no-call]

While the 49ers and the rest of the NFL canceled on-field work this spring, Bosa trained daily with his brother, Joey, and he believes he enters his second season much better prepared than a year ago.

“I think I’ve gotten all of the benefits and I’m feeling it out here in these workouts, in these runs we’re doing,” he said. “I feel like I’m, by far, in the best shape that I’ve ever been. I don’t look much different because we don’t train to body-build. We train to play football, and I think it’ll show.”

49ers' Nick Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for big Super Bowl no-call

49ers' Nick Bosa 'not going to blame ref' for big Super Bowl no-call

Third-and-15.

Three words that will forever be linked to the 49ers’ inability to close the door on the Kansas City Chiefs in the middle of the fourth quarter of their Super Bowl LIV loss at Hard Rock Stadium.

Third-and-15 conjures up a bunch of “what-if” scenarios. The 49ers led by 10 points. They'd lose the game by 11. That play on third-and-15 gave the Chiefs a chance.

It took a while for Tyreek Hill’s downfield route to develop. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes needed time in order for Hill to fool 49ers cornerback Emmanuel Moseley into believing his destination was the deep middle of the field. Mahomes had just enough time to allow Hill time to break his route back outside.

What happened at the beginning of the play made the 44-yard pass completion possible. Rookie defensive end Nick Bosa appeared to beat Kansas City left tackle Eric Fisher with an inside move. But Fisher steered Bosa clear of Mahomes with his right arm wrapped around Bosa’s right ribcage.

Months later, does Bosa believe he was held on the play?

“I’ve gotten that question a bunch,” he said with a laugh during a video call with Bay Area reporters.

“I don’t like thinking about that game very much, but I have gone back and watched up until the fourth quarter and, um, was I held? I mean, it comes down to the opinion of a human being. So that’s what refs are. They’re human beings. So if they think it’s holding, they think it’s holding. It could’ve been holding. It could’ve not been holding. It just depends on what he thinks.”

[49ERS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Referee Bill Vinovich did not reach for his flag, and the play stood.

Bosa did not have a chance after Fisher got his arm around him. Meanwhile, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who lined up inside of Bosa, was a split-second late in getting to Mahomes.

“I’m not going to say that’s the reason we lost the game because there were plenty of opportunities where I could’ve done better,” Bosa said of the no-call. “I could’ve done better on that move on third and 15. I’m sure Buck is kicking himself. He thinks he could’ve done better on the wrap and gotten there a little quicker. I’m not going to blame the ref, by any means.”

Buckner is now with the Indianapolis Colts after the 49ers traded him for a first-round draft pick that was used to select his replacement, Javon Kinlaw. Buckner is the only defensive starter who does not return for the 49ers this season.

[RELATED49ers' Bosa expects Kinlaw to 'kill it' in rookie season]

All the holdovers will use third-and-15 as “good motivation,” said Bosa. After all, his rookie season fell just short of the ultimate prize.

“First year, you get there and you’re seven minutes away and a nightmare of a situation happens,” Bosa said. “So you could bet we’re going to come back pretty strong this year if we’re able to get 16 games in and the playoffs.”