INDIANAPOLIS. Ind. -- One year ago when the 49ers descended upon the NFL Scouting Combine, they knew they would be able to select their most-prized draft prospect.
In part because of the way defensive end Nick Bosa produced after being the No. 2 overall pick in the draft, the 49ers will be waiting a long time this year before making their first selection.
“It’s fun this time of the year having the low (draft pick) and being able to look at the Bosas of the world and those guys, but it’s a lot more fun playing deep into the year so you take the later pick,” 49ers general manager John Lynch said.
The 49ers finished the regular season with 13 wins, won the NFC West, earned homefield advantage throughout the NFC playoffs and advanced to the Super Bowl. The 49ers would rather be drafting at No. 32. But after letting a 10-point lead get away in a 31-20 loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV, the 49ers select at No. 31.
The options of which player the 49ers could end up with their first pick are endless. They also know they will not be in a position of selecting a player who will be guaranteed big money throughout the course of a four-year contract.
“There's not as much pressure getting to know all the top guys in the draft,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said.
The 49ers dealt away their picks in the second, third and fourth rounds to acquire edge rusher Dee Ford and wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders. The 49ers’ next scheduled pick after their spot near the end of the first round will come in the fifth round.
“We don’t have as much equity as we’ve had in year’s past so we’ve got to figure out a way,” Lynch said. “We’ve got to be creative. We got to be exhaustive in all the avenues we look at to improve our football team and we are committed to doing that.”
The strength of the 49ers’ roster is near the top of the NFL. But the club still has several areas to address, such as wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line and the defensive backfield. What occurs for the 49ers during free agency, which begins in mid-March, will determine the immediate needs the team will look to fill in the draft.
Shanahan and his staff are about five weeks behind their usual offseason because of their Super Bowl run. The team’s coaches are working on going through their season evaluations of each of the players from last season. They are also working on evaluating the options on the free-agent market and in the draft.
The coaches came to the combine to begin the process of learning about the draft prospects. Shanahan and his offensive assistants completed interviews with players on that side of the ball on Wednesday and were on the first flight out of Indianapolis on Thursday morning. They will watch the on-field workouts on video back at the team’s headquarters in Santa Clara.
“You can eliminate a lot of people when you're at No. 2,” Shanahan said. “You don't have to put as much time into everyone. You still do it, but when you're at No. 31, you have to be ready for anything.”
“Also, you don't just sit there and look at your draft and say, 'All right, we've got to know (Nos.) 1 through 31, but then we can chill to the fourth or fifth round and take a day off.’ Things change. There's always trades and different draft picks.”
It seems logical the 49ers would want to accumulate more draft picks. If they can find a team that wants the No. 31 overall pick, the 49ers could move back -- and, perhaps, move back again and again -- to acquire a selections in the second, third or fourth rounds.
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“I think the important part right now is that we are prepared for all scenarios and so the best way to do that is to do our due diligence in terms of getting ready for the draft class, the free-agent class and evaluating our own players,” Lynch said.
“So that’s our mind set. I think those things will take care of themselves is our plan, and kind of our vision for making our team better this year develops further. But, right now, the most important part is that we work really hard in trying to assess the talents and the opportunities to improve our team.”
49ERS 2020 DRAFT PICKS
1. First round: Own pick; No. 31
2. Fifth round: Denver pick from WR Emmanuel Sanders trade; No. 156
3. Fifth round: Own pick; No. 176
4. Sixth round: Own pick; No. 210
5. Seventh round: Detroit pick for LB Eli Harold, 2018; No. 217
6. Seventh round: Own pick; No. 245
Original picks traded:
Second-round pick traded to Kansas City for DE Dee Ford
Third- and fourth-round picks traded to Denver for WR Emmanuel Sanders