Are the 49ers open to the idea of selecting an offensive tackle in the first round?
General manager John Lynch apparently invested some amount of time last week toward studying one of the top offensive linemen in the draft.
Lynch posted a video from his home office to express appreciation for those on the “front lines” of the novel coronavirus pandemic – the doctors, nurses, healthcare workers, police, grocery workers and others.
Lynch also wanted to give 49ers fans a glimpse of how the 49ers are going about preparing for the draft. In the background on Lynch’s TV was a paused scene from Kentucky’s Nov. 30 game against Louisville.
In looking at photos from each of Kentucky’s eight home games, only Louisville wore white helmets, along with white jerseys and pants with a black stripe down the pants. The scene appears to show Kentucky on defense after making a stop.
As we all #DoOurPart and #WFH, I wanted to give you a behind-the-scenes look at where I’m getting ready for the NFL Draft. We’d love to see how you’re working from home - the more @49ers red and gold the better. Tag #IGYB to share with us. #StayHome pic.twitter.com/pXmmmbuKL7— John Lynch (@JohnLynch49ers) March 27, 2020
So which prospect was Lynch watching?
Kentucky did not have any defensive players invited to the NFL Scouting Combine. And the only player Louisville sent to the combine was offensive tackle Mekhi Becton.
Becton is generally considered a top-10 draft pick. At 6-foot-7, 364 pounds, Becton appears to be agile enough to thrive in all running schemes, including Kyle Shanahan’s offense that places a premium on athleticism from its offensive linemen.
Becton said at the NFL Scouting Combine that he likes blocking in zone schemes.
“I take a whole lot of pride in it,” Becton said. “I love outside zone and inside zone. It’s just fun running a man out of the play taking him where I want him to go.”
The 49ers have to consider a time when six-time Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Staley is no longer with the team. Lynch said in February he was confident Staley would play at least one more season, but there has been no definitive word from Staley. He turns 36 in August, and has played 13 NFL seasons. Staley missed nine games last season due to injuries.
Becton is regarded as one of the top three tackle prospects in the draft, along with Tristan Wirfs of Iowa and Andrew Thomas of Georgia. Each of those three could be selected within the top-12 selections – before the 49ers are scheduled to go on the clock at No. 13 overall.
The evidence is there that the 49ers are looking at offensive tackles, based on Lynch’s documented evaluation of Becton.
Or, perhaps, knowing it would not be too difficult to figure out which player Lynch was scouting at the time of the video, it might have been just a smokescreen.