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.
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.”