SANTA CLARA -- It would have to take a special talent for the 49ers to, once again, invest their top draft pick in a defensive tackle.
Quinnen Williams could be that person, according to 49ers general manager John Lynch.
The 49ers have the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft Thursday night, and the top candidates to hear their names called in that spot are Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa and Williams, who started just one season at nose tackle at Alabama and finished eighth in the Heisman Trophy voting.
And, yes, just because the team has selected Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner and Solomon Thomas in the first rounds of drafts the past five years, Williams still is considered a legitimate option.
“Just because he’s an excellent football player,” Lynch said. “The season he had may have been as good of a college football season that I’ve ever seen. He was just dominant.
“What a season he had. He’s a spectacular player. When you look at how your roster is currently comprised, when you have an opportunity to take a talent like that, you certainly look at every avenue to improve your team.”
Even with three recent first-round picks along the interior defensive line, #49ers are considering Quinnen Williams at No. 2 overall. GM John Lynch discusses him during a pre-draft media session. pic.twitter.com/i2vzKZ6U58— Matt Maiocco (@MaioccoNBCS) April 23, 2019
Alabama coach Nick Saban told Williams he would have to gain weight in order to realize his goal of being the team’s starting nose tackle in 2018. That is what Williams did. In addition to recording 19.5 tackles for loss, he also registered eight sacks on the season.
Lynch said he does not necessarily consider Williams a nose tackle or a three-technique, a position that lines up on the outside shoulder of the opposing offensive guard.
“He can play anything, that guy,” Lynch said. “He’s special.”
Lynch said he foresees no negatives to adding a player such as Williams to the team’s existing group of interior defensive linemen, which includes Pro Bowl player DeForest Buckner, who recorded 12 sacks last season.
“If he ended up here, there’s room for all those guys,” Lynch said of Williams. “We really feel like that. The one thing we’ve tried to do is take some versatile players that can have the flexibility to play inside, outside. And I think that gives you flexibility in who you bring in.
“Philosophically, coming in waves. We like having strength in numbers and strength in the quality of those numbers.”