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49ers 'working hard' to identify reasons for draft hits, misses

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Kyle Shanahan John Lynch

Under general manager John Lynch, the 49ers added draft picks such as George Kittle, Fred Warner, Nick Bosa and Deebo Samuel -- players near the top of the league at their positions.

But they have also invested important draft picks on players who never came close to panning out, such as Solomon Thomas, Reuben Foster, Dante Pettis and Ahkello Witherspoon.

It’s too early to tell on second-year players Javon Kinlaw and Brandon Aiyuk, whom the club selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and have been up-and-down in the early portions of their careers.

Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area the personnel department regularly goes back to past drafts to identify the traits that contributed to the successes and failures of their draft picks.

“That’s something that we feel is very important,” Lynch said. “You have to study yourself. You have to study the league and say, ‘OK, this worked. Why? This didn’t work. Why?’”

Lynch said he believes the organization has a good process for self-evaluation and improvement. The scouting process includes the year-round efforts of the scouting department, then brings in the coaching staff in the months leading up to the draft.

“We have had a lot of hits,” Lynch said. “We’ve had some misses. We have to be better there. And we’re working hard to identify, ‘OK, what’s been the common threads when we’ve hit, and where have we gone wrong when we’ve missed?’

"I think we have a good idea of what that is. I think we’re going to keep that in-house and we’re going to continue to hone that because I think it’s a strength of ours.”

 
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Lynch admitted one area where the 49ers have adjusted their thinking is when it comes to acquiring injured players -- through the draft or in free agency. Injuries to key players have hit the 49ers hard in recent seasons.

“Early on in my and Kyle’s tenure, we probably tried to gain value out of a guy who’d been hurt,” Lynch said. “You find out that hurt guys stay hurt. You try to adjust some things and I think we’ve done that, and hopefully that’ll start to pay dividends.”

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