The general consensus is that the 49ers had a good 2020 NFL Draft, while the Green Bay Packers, to put it lightly, did not. One team adjusted on the fly as well as could be expected, whereas the other might have panicked -- and flubbed.
Rather than alter their draft plans to fill the need created by Joe Staley's surprise retirement, the 49ers stuck to their guns, drafted two foundational pieces in the first round and still managed to upgrade at left tackle with the trade for Trent Williams. One of those two foundational pieces -- wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk -- required San Francisco to trade up from No. 31 overall to No. 25, as the team believed he wouldn't last until the end of the first. According to The Athletic's David Lombardi, the 49ers believed the Packers, in particular, were targeting the Arizona State standout.
Based on what I’m gathering through several chats, sounds that 49ers were concerned about Packers drafting Brandon Aiyuk at No. 26. Lynch/Shanahan spoke of “intel” that spurred SF trade up to 25; that might’ve been it.— David Lombardi (@LombardiHimself) April 29, 2020
GB picked Jordan Love at 26; Aiyuk gone by then of course
Having been soundly defeated by San Francisco in the NFC Championship Game, Green Bay originally sat immediately in front of the 49ers in the first-round draft order, holding the 30th overall pick. Obviously, San Francisco jumped the Packers in the order with trade to move up to 25, securing one of coach Kyle Shanahan's favorite receivers in the draft. Then, with Aiyuk off the board, Green Bay traded up from 30 to 26 and drafted Utah State quarterback Jordan Love.
The Packers' decision to trade up and draft Aaron Rodgers' successor, rather than a new weapon for him, has been heavily criticized since the moment it happened. It was the beginning of a questionable-at-best draft as a whole, in which Green Bay arguably acquired zero players capable of making a significant immediate impact. In what many considered to be the most loaded receiver class of all time, the Packers came away with precisely one pass-catcher -- an undersized tight end who was a reach in the third round.
Maybe Green Bay was planning on drafting Love all along. Rodgers will turn 37 in December, and he's not getting any younger. Then again, the Packers were one game away from the Super Bowl last season, and it would seem to have made much more sense to address what inefficiencies were responsible for falling short. Drafting a quarterback who won't see the field unless Rodgers isn't on it surely didn't accomplish that.
We'll never know if Green Bay would have taken Aiyuk if given the chance to do so -- San Francisco made sure of that.
However, that pick would have made a lot more sense than the one the Packers ultimately did end up making, and based on what transpired after, it's not unreasonable to infer that the 49ers' trade-up for Aiyuk might have thrown them off their game.
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