Even 17 months later, coach Kyle Shanahan does not want to ponder the hypothetical of what the 49ers would have done if their top option was not available with the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
To recap: The Arizona Cardinals selected Kyler Murray at No. 1, which allowed the 49ers to choose Nick Bosa with the second pick. The New York Jets took defensive tackle Quinnen Williams at No. 3.
if Arizona had taken Bosa, would the 49ers have selected Williams at No. 2? Greg Papa asked Shanahan that question on "49ers Game Plan," which airs Friday night on NBC Sports Bay Area.
“There was a good chance we were,” Shanahan said. “I mean, he (Williams) was that type of player, and it’s showing right now on his tape.
“But I refuse to believe that Bosa wasn’t going to be there at 2. That was the only thing at the end of the 4-12 year that I was like, ‘All right, at least, maybe this will lead us to Bosa.’ “
The 49ers and Jets will meet Sunday for the first time since San Francisco ended up with Bosa and the Jets followed with the selection of Williams.
Prior to the draft, 49ers general manager John Lynch spoke highly of Williams and suggested the organization was giving him strong consideration for that pick.
Even last season while Bosa was well on his way to being chosen NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Lynch said the decision to go with Bosa over Williams was not as easy as everyone assumed.
But Shanahan said this week that his heart was set on Bosa.
“I’m sure the whole world probably would have offered us trades for Kyler, also, so you never fully know, but I was not trying to think any bad thoughts to where Bosa wasn’t going to be there at 2,” Shanahan said.
Bosa has been everything the 49ers possibly could have envisioned. He registered nine sacks as a rookie while also playing strong run defense. He added four more sacks during the postseason.
Williams registered 2.5 sacks and 28 tackles as a rookie. Although the value of a defensive tackle certainly cannot be measured in stats, Jets coach Adam Gase said this week they expect more from Williams.
“I think he’s heading in the right direction,” Gase said. “We just have keep finding ways to get him better.”
The 49ers have no second-thoughts about their decision with Bosa.
And from even before the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine, Bosa was hoping he would end up with the 49ers – a team he figured only was an edge rusher away from being a really good defense.
“I watched him his junior season at Alabama, and he looked amazing,” Bosa said of Williams. “I’m sure he’s going to get the hang of it here pretty soon because he’ super-talented and he’s got everything you need.
“Two good players, and I’m happy I got picked one above him.”