Kyle Shanahan explains why 49ers passed on Patrick Mahomes in 2017 NFL draft

Kyle Shanahan explains why 49ers passed on Patrick Mahomes in 2017 NFL draft

MIAMI, Fla. -- The 49ers traveled around the country to attend pro days of some of the top quarterback prospects in the country prior to the 2017 draft.

Mitchell Trubisky, Patrick Mahomes and Deshawn Watson were among those quarterbacks the 49ers scouted and visited. Each was chosen within the first dozen picks in the draft. But the 49ers, despite having a need at quarterback, were never all that interested in selecting a quarterback in the first round.

Nearly three years later, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said he studied Mahomes – but maybe not to the in-depth level required to uncover some of the traits that made him one of the top quarterbacks in the league.

“I didn’t look into him obviously as much as I should have,” Shanahan quipped on Tuesday, five days before the 49ers face Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV.

“We definitely looked into him and studied all of his tape, was just a freak, could make any throw, had the ability to do anything,” Shanahan said. “We had the second pick in the draft, and didn’t feel like with all the intel and stuff that he was going to go that high.”

Shanahan said he met with Mahomes at the NFL scouting combine. Mahomes remembers having dinner with 49ers general manager John Lynch and some other coaches later during the draft process. But Mahomes' memory is a little foggy. He said he never thought the 49ers would draft him because they already had Jimmy Garoppolo. That was one of Mahomes' few misfires of the postseason. Garoppolo did not come to the 49ers until the midpoint of the 2017 season.

The 49ers ended up trading back one spot to allow the Chicago Bears to select Trubisky. The 49ers took defensive tackle Solomon Thomas at No. 3 overall.

It was all part of the 49ers’ plan to build other areas of the roster and then wait a year to bring aboard a franchise quarterback. They figured that player would be Kirk Cousins, who was set to play under the franchise tag with Washington.

“It was a little bit of a different situation for us, just because it’s pretty well-documented just the relationship I had with Kirk,” Shanahan said. “And being in Washington and everything, I felt very confident he wasn’t going to stay there, so any time you go into a season knowing that a franchise quarterback is going to be available in the next year, that made me a lot more picky with what we were looking at.”

Shanahan believed the 49ers’ best move was to add a veteran quarterback the following year, rather than go with the unknown of bringing in a kid straight out of college.

“You saw a bunch of talented guys in that draft, but it’s very tough when you watch college systems and stuff, you don’t really know until you get somebody in the building,” Shanahan said. “You can see ability. You can see talent. But how’s the mind? How do they play in the pocket? How do they process? And that’s not just an IQ score. That’s some stuff I don’t think you can totally test. You got to go through that with them, so there’s always a risk with that when you spend a first-round pick on a quarterback.

“With the situation we were in, don’t want to be that risky, especially with the second pick in the draft.”

[RELATEDHow Alex Smith helped Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes develop in rookie season]

After sitting behind former 49ers quarterback Alex Smith for the 2017 season, Mahomes has turned into one of the league’s best players and the star attraction at the Super Bowl. Mahomes won the NFL most valuable player award in 2018, in his first season as the Kansas City starter. He followed it up with an outstanding 2019 regular season and playoffs, leading into the game against the 49ers.

And the 49ers’ long-term plan to acquire Cousins came to an abrupt halt in late-October of 2017 when New England coach Bill Belichick called Shanahan to offer him Garoppolo for a second-round draft pick.

Neither the 49ers nor Chiefs have reason to complain about how things worked out.

Programming note: NBC Sports Bay Area feeds your hunger for 49ers Super Bowl coverage with special editions of “49ers Central” all week (8 p.m. Wednesday, 8:30 p.m. Thursday, 9:30 p.m. Friday, and 3 p.m. Saturday).

Also tune in at 1 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday for a two-hour special of "49ers Pregame Live" with Laura Britt, Donte Whitner, Jeff Garcia, Ian Williams, Kelli Johnson, Greg Papa and Grant Liffmann. That same crew will have all the postgame reaction on "49ers Postgame Live," starting immediately after the game.

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


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.”