49ers

NFL Draft 2019: Biggest winners, losers from Round 1 full of surprises

NFL Draft 2019: Biggest winners, losers from Round 1 full of surprises

The first round of the 2019 NFL Draft has come and gone, and it didn't take long for it to create quite a stir.

Kyler Murray went No. 1 overall to the Cardinals as expected. Nick Bosa and Quinnen Williams followed to the 49ers and Jets, respectively.

And that's when things started getting a little wonky.

With all 32 first-round picks now completed, here's a look at the three biggest winners and losers from the first day of the draft:

WINNERS

Jets

The Jets reportedly had interest in trading down, but stayed at No. 3, and had arguably the best player in the entire draft fall into their laps. Quinnen Williams will be a plug-and-play staple on their defensive line, and he sure looks like a perennial All-Pro. Sometimes the best move is the one you don't make.

Washington

Speaking of benefitting from inaction, Washington got its quarterback and didn't have to give up anything for him. Washington had been rumored to be interested in trading for a QB, but with Dwayne Haskins falling to their pick at No. 15, that will no longer be happening. Haskins was widely regarded as the second-best signal caller in the draft. If he's able to wrangle the starting job, the Ohio State product could be the odds-on favorite for Offensive Rookie of the Year.

Additionally, trading into the end of the first round to select speed rusher Montez Sweat (who ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the combine but dropped due to reported health concerns) at No. 26 was well worth the risk.

Teams that need wide receivers and defensive backs

The draft is quite deep in both positions, and considering how pass-happy the league has become, it was a bit of a surprise to see only two receivers and only three defensive backs (two of which were safeties) go in the first round. Former Ole Miss receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf didn't hear their names called, nor did cornerbacks Greedy Williams, Byron Murphy, and Rock Ya-Sin.

Expect several of those names to go early in the second round on Day 2, where the 49ers or Raiders could be ready to pounce.

LOSERS

New York Giants

Last year, the Giants passed on QBs Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Josh Allen and drafted a running back second overall. Even with Saquon Barkley's Offensive Rookie of the Year performance, New York won only five games with eroding statue Eli Manning behind center, and that appears to be the plan yet again. Daniel Jones played under David Cutcliffe at Duke, and there's no doubt Cutcliffe's cozy relationship with the Manning family had plenty to do with the Giants selecting Jones with the No. 6 pick.

It seemed like a reach at the time, particularly with Haskins still on the board and the Giants also holding the No. 17 overall selection. Given how atrocious Manning was last season, it might not be long until Jones is thrown into the fire.

A prediction? It won't look pretty, and New York will be drafting in the top-six again a year from now.

Oakland Raiders

Mike Mayock should send Giants GM David Gettleman a gift basket. The stink of the Giants' reach for Jones drowned out the groans of Raiders fans dumbfounded by Oakland's selection of defensive end Clelin Ferrell with the No. 4 overall pick. Ferrell is a quality player and certainly a first-round talent, but top-five is quite a stretch. Mayock himself thought Ferrell would be a trade-down possibility, and yet, with superior pass rushers like Josh Allen, Ed Oliver, and Rashan Gary still on the board, the Raiders stood pat and took Ferrell. 

It's possible there were no trade offers to Oakland's liking, but their failure to find one may say more about Mayock's relative inexperience in his new position and doesn't exactly inspire a ton of confidence in an extremely important draft for him and Jon Gruden.

That said, Josh Jacobs looks like a fitting replacement for Marshawn Lynch, and Johnathan Abram sure can lay the wood.

Josh Rosen, Kyler Murray and the Cardinals 

Rosen, the same guy who has had five different offensive coordinators in four years (since his freshman year at UCLA), got one season behind the worst offensive line in football before his franchise gave up on him. Thus is life in the NFL.

After spending the No. 10 overall pick on Rosen a year ago, new Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury selected Murray No. 1 overall Thursday, and it's hard to imagine a scenario where all of this works out well for Arizona.

If the Cardinals keep Rosen, the dynamic in that quarterback room will be interesting, to say the least. If the Cardinals trade Rosen, they'll likely get pennies on the dollar in return. Nearly every team that entered the draft with a lingering quarterback need (New York, Washington) drafted one, and the one that didn't (Miami) doesn't seem like a fit to offer the kind of return Arizona is holding out for.

If the Cardinals were so sure about Murray being their quarterback of the future, they would have been much better off dealing Rosen before the market dried up.

Will 49ers look to trade backup QBs C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens?

Will 49ers look to trade backup QBs C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens?

One of the major competitions being waged on the 49ers’ practice field is for a spot the club hopes will never be asked to play a significant role this season.

The 49ers’ hopes for the season hinge in large part on quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo playing at a high level for 16 games. Behind him, in a too-close-to-call competition are C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens.

Once training camp opens in late-July, the competition for the backup role will heat up. Mullens outplayed Beathard last year, but all that did was create a level playing field for the competition that will ensue this summer.

This week marked the conclusion of the team’s official offseason program. Here are some questions submitted via Facebook:

What's the likelihood we trade one of our backup QBs to a team that loses a QB to injury? ( David Cummings)
The 49ers have three options:
1. Cut C.J. Beathard or Nick Mullens.
2. Keep three QBs on their 53-man roster.
3. Trade Beathard or Mullens.

Of those three options, there is no question the 49ers would rather trade one of their reserve quarterbacks.

I’m of the opinion right now that they are fine with either Beathard or Mullens as the backup to Jimmy Garoppolo. If another team feels a need to add a backup, I believe the 49ers would be open to trading either one – whichever player the other team wants more and will attract the better compensation.

Will Robbie be the starting kicker come the start of the regular season? (Richard Burley)
Robbie Gould has not publicly stated his intention, other than he has demanded a trade. (The 49ers said, in essence, “No, thanks. We want you to be our kicker.”)

It is difficult to imagine that Gould would forfeit more than $290,000 per game. The 49ers expect him to be on the field in Week 1 of the regular season. Jonathan Brown was the only kicker to participate in the offseason program. Right now, he’s their insurance policy.

Is there a possibility after the cutdowns start the 49ers will possibly pick up a savvy veteran guard or center considering the uncertainty and shakiness of our interior offensive line? (John Mayfield)
Based on their approach this offseason, the 49ers do not agree with your description of “uncertainty” and “shakiness” as it pertains to the interior of their offensive line.

There’s always a possibility of picking up someone for depth, but the addition of Ben Garland, who can play both guard and center, likely took care of that.

From what you've seen Matt, which WR has impressed you and the coaching staff the most? (Paul Martinez)
The 49ers’ top-two receivers during the offseason program were Dante Pettis and Trent Taylor. If Taylor remains healthy, he should benefit greatly from the tutelage of new receivers coach Wes Welker.

Considering the size of the front seven on defense are there concerns about our potential to defend against the run with the new Wide 9 scheme? (R.L. Stephens)
That is precisely why the 49ers’ defense now has three smaller, quicker stack linebackers. The Wide 9 is designed for the defensive ends to set the edge quicker to force running backs to cut inside earlier.

It also puts far more pressure on the linebackers to step up and cover more ground to prevent big plays on those plays.

Who is a name that might be a surprise cut before the 53-man roster is made? (Michael Tavares)
If I write the name here, he won’t be a surprise cut, right?

I’ll give you three players to watch. At first, I thought Marquise Goodwin might have a difficult time making the team. But he looked really good during the offseason program, and he does give the 49ers they don’t have anywhere else with his speed.

Veteran linebacker Malcolm Smith will have to earn his way. Elijah Lee and Dre Greenlaw look good, and they have special-teams value, too. Tight end Garrett Celek will be trying to come back from back surgery. I think he faces some pretty big odds at this stage of his career to remain on the team.

[RELATED: Kyle Shanahan believes 49ers can overcome injuries this season]

Who are the starting safeties at the beginning of the season? (Nick Gillo)
Jimmie Ward and Jaquiski Tartt. (Insert the obligatory, “If healthy.”)

With Shanahan talking about having great depth, predict the biggest 2020 offseason needs. (Jeff Bratton)
I predict the biggest needs for next season will be determined by what happens this season.

49ers linebacker Fred Warner looks to improve after solid rookie year

49ers linebacker Fred Warner looks to improve after solid rookie year

SANTA CLARA — Linebacker Fred Warner had a lot put on his plate as a rookie. Going into his second season as a pro, he's leaning on a wild first year.

“I’m expecting [my game] to grow a lot,” Warner said. “Having that experience from Year 1, obviously playing a lot of snaps, I think all parts of my game can improve. 

“Specifically I’m looking forward to working on tracking the ball, making sure that I’m improving on tackling, just communication, having clean eyes, and being able to anticipate things a lot quicker.”  

Warner explained that while he had a lot of responsibilities, he never felt like it was too much for him to handle. He added that linebackers coach DeMeco Ryans increased his workload as his experience grew. 

“I think they knew that they could rely on me, they never gave me too much,” Warner said. “DeMeco was always checking in with me to make sure that I wasn’t too overwhelmed and whatever they told me to do, I did it.

“They gave me more and more as I got more confident throughout the season, so leading into that last game against the Rams, we had a lot of stuff going on, but that’s when I was the most confident, in the last game of the year.” 

Warner’s experience is helping him look at last season’s game film with a new set of eyes, figuratively. He already sees ways he could have improved his performance. 

“No doubt,” Warner said. “I’m watching film right now and I’m looking at different things and I’m like, ‘Dang I would have called that’ or ‘I wish I was out there so we could do this,’ but I feel our defense is doing a great job right now. 

“Guys who maybe have not gotten as many reps are stepping up during this OTAs doing an outstanding job and I’m looking forward to getting back out there with them.” 

The defense has gotten notably faster after several key additions during the offseason and Warner believes it gives the group “swagger.”

“I think every year that we get more of that chemistry together as a group, I feel like that’s where it comes out, our confidence,” Warner said. “The more we can play with that, the more we can instill fear into our opponents on game day. They should be able to turn on the film and be like 'Oh, man. We got the Niners this week.’

“I think that with coach Kocurek, they are being taught to come off the ball hard and fast so they are going to create a lot of penetration which should create a lot of edges and so it’s our job to make them right, as linebackers. We are behind the ball for a reason so we can see everything and play off of them.” 

[RELATED: Jason Verrett feeling confident about his return]

Warner, like many players sitting out of team drills during OTAs and minicamp, is itching to get back on the field. But he knows that being patient is what’s best for him in the long run. 

“A lot of that you don’t have much control over,” Warner said. “You just have to listen to what the trainers tell you, and that’s what I’ve been doing. They have a plan for me and I’m just going to follow that, but yeah, just taking one day at a time.”