49ers

NFL Draft 2020: Why 49ers could trade up to No. 5 for Jeffrey Okudah

NFL Draft 2020: Why 49ers could trade up to No. 5 for Jeffrey Okudah

The NFL draft demonstrates to fans just how bold their team’s general managers can be.

Those willing to take a risk and try to move up in the first round sacrifice significant draft capital in exchange for a chance at a home run.

The 49ers happen to be one of those select few teams possessing multiple first-round picks in this year’s draft, giving GM John Lynch an opportunity to make a big splash.

One potential way Lynch could extend San Francisco’s championship window is by fortifying the secondary with Ohio State’s Jeffrey Okudah, writes Bleacher Report’s Marcus Mosher.

In this trade, the 49ers make the bold jump up to secure the former Ohio State Buckeye. But with the 49ers lacking in trade capital this year, they could send picks No. 13, No. 31 and another 2021 third-round selection. 

The 49ers have a win-now roster and could use a stud cover man to pair with Richard Sherman. Okudah is one of the best players in the draft and would give the team another versatile corner who could be used in both man and zone coverage. 

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Okudah is the consensus top defensive back in this year’s draft, combining length to disrupt the passing game with top-line speed, putting up a 4.48 in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine.

The Niners came up just short of hoisting the Lombardi trophy in February, despite holding dynamic gunslinger Patrick Mahomes to just 286 yards passing and the lowest postseason quarterback rating of his career.

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Okudah could provide an immediate impact in the secondary on the other side of Richard Sherman, but should the team sacrifice both of its first-round draft picks to fortify a position that is lower on the list of needs for Lynch’s roster?

Many fans likely rather would see the team grab one of this year's seemingly endless crop of talented wide receivers at No. 13 and then waiting and nabbing a cornerback later like TCU product Jeff Gladney at No. 31 overall.

We’ll find out just how bold this 49ers' front office wants to be in exactly two week’s time. 

NFL Power Rankings: 49ers at No. 4 before 2020 season, Peter King says

NFL Power Rankings: 49ers at No. 4 before 2020 season, Peter King says

The 49ers were the best team in the NFC last season, and they had a pretty good offseason.

So they should be No. 1 or No. 2 in any preseason NFL power rankings, right?

Not quite, according to NBC Sports NFL analyst Peter King.

In King's latest Football Morning in America column, he ranked the 49ers at No. 4 behind the Kansas City Chiefs (No. 1), Baltimore Ravens (No. 2) and New Orleans Saints (No. 3).

King loved what 49ers general manager John Lynch was able to do this offseason.

"There isn’t a team that responded to its problems better than the Niners this offseason," King wrote. "San Francisco needed a left tackle after Joe Staley’s April retirement; GM John Lynch went out and got Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, cheap. Knowing that he couldn’t pay all his top defensive frontmen, Lynch dealt DeForest Buckner for the 13th pick in the draft—and used that pick on South Carolina DT Javon Kinlaw. And needing a long-term receiver threat, the Niners traded up in the first round for Arizona State wideout Brandon Aiyuk."

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While it's perfectly reasonable to put the Chiefs and Ravens ahead of the 49ers, ranking the Saints in front of them is a point of contention.

But King highlighted two areas that could be issues for the 49ers.

"The one long-term position Lynch needs to attack is the secondary—and not because of the late collapse against the Chiefs in the Super Bowl," King said. "Richard Sherman is 32, and greatness for a corner at 32 cannot be assumed. But a deep defensive front will help any issues defensive coordinator Robert Saleh has in the back end."

Despite a 21-5 record as a starter in the NFL and helping guide the 49ers to Super Bowl LIV, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has been criticized quite a bit this offseason. Whether or not it's deserved is a debate for another day. But King believes Garoppolo is the main reason the 49ers are behind the Saints on his ranking.

"The 49ers have an excellent chance to stay atop the tough NFC West, though a Lombardi Trophy will come only with more consistency from Jimmy Garoppolo," King wrote. "His 75.9 rating in the playoffs, while not coming out of nowhere, was more noticeable because of how coach Kyle Shanahan play-called in January after Garoppolo threw an ugly interception against the Vikings. In the Niners’ last six quarters before the Super Bowl, Garoppolo threw 14 passes and the Niners ran it 72 times. That might have happened in the Bob Griese Miami days, but man, was it noticeable in today’s football.

"The 49ers belittled the media for making a big deal of it, and every Niner player has pit-bulled questions about Garoppolo since, but come on. His two picks and missed deep ball to Emmanuel Sanders in the fourth quarter only exacerbated the issue. The only one who can do anything about this is cool Jimmy G, and I think all the badgering will push him to be better. But we haven’t seen it yet. That’s why the Saints are 3 and Niners 4 in this totally scientific rating of the teams."

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Yes, the Saints are good, and they signed Emmanuel Sanders away from the 49ers, but that talented team has come up short in the playoffs the last few years (a couple questionable calls didn't help). Shanahan's crew is now battle tested, and they will be hungry to avenge the bitter Super Bowl defeat.

The 49ers and Saints will meet again in New Orleans on Nov. 15. That Week 10 matchup should go a long way to determining which team is the best in the NFC, and possibly even the NFL.

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Joe Staley, 49ers give virtual graduation ceremony to class of 2020

Joe Staley, 49ers give virtual graduation ceremony to class of 2020

Joe Staley retired this offseason after 13 years with the 49ers, but on Saturday, he gave The Faithful of all ages a special parting gift. 

The 49ers held a 38-minute virtual graduation ceremony for those of all ages in the class of 2020. Whether you're a young fan moving up to junior high, you graduated high school or even college, the Niners had a message for you. 

No message was greater than Staley's. Decked in a cap and gown, the former Pro Bowl left tackle gave the official commencement speech

“Good evening students, faculty, friends, family, and 49ers Faithful," Staley started his speech. "I’m Joe Staley, proud student of Rockford High School and Central Michigan University. Oh, and former offensive lineman for the San Francisco 49ers.

"I am here tonight to extend my congratulations to the class of 2020. You did it!"

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The 35-year-old went on to send a great message regarding his retirement and how it relates to graduates. 

"Just a few weeks ago, after playing in 192 NFL games, I decided to hang up my cleats. So, I know first-hand how hard it is to close a chapter and open a new one during this chaotic and uncertain time," Staley said. "But I also know we will get through this and come out stronger. Being able to move forward and graduate despite the hurdles that this pandemic has thrown your way, speaks to your resilience.

"Whether you’re leaving elementary, middle, high school, college, or vocational school -- hold your head high, be proud, and know that you are ready for this. You’ve prepared hard and now it’s time to get out there and make your dreams come true." 

In addition to Staley, coach Kyle Shanahan, general manager John Lynch and many others gave inspiring messages. Jerry Rice and Steve Young even stopped by to celebrate. 

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This year's graduating class, no matter what age or school, dealt with extremely tough circumstances. Watching Staley address so many with such a positive outlook is just another glimpse of what he meant to the 49ers' locker room. 

Staley made strong, lifelong impressions on countless teammates. The same can be said for what he did for 49ers fans as well.