With the NFL draft less than 10 days away, the 49ers’ draft plan is wide open.
They can stay at No. 2 overall and take the best player available, or they could trade down to collect extra selections.
General manager John Lynch, in fact, has been open about his desire to get the most out of the team’s first-round draft position, a valuable high pick that might be coveted by others.
“I think we know how we value that (pick),” Lynch told reporters recently. “As I’ve said, we’re open for business. We’d listen to anything. But I’ve always said you don’t like being 2-14, but you like having the second pick. I think it puts you in the driver’s seat with a lot of options at your disposal and we’ll explore every single one of them.”
But Lynch and the 49ers are going to have stiff competition for suitors to land that No. 2 draft choice.
Peter King of Sports Illustrated’s Monday Morning Quarterback reports the 49ers, the Bears (who have the No. 3 pick) and Jets (No. 6 pick) all are interested in moving down in the first round in exchange for extra picks. Each would be happy to stay within the top 12 picks in the first round.
King says circumstances in this particular draft – where there is no clear No. 2 choice after No. 1 Texas A&M defensive end Myles Garrett, combined with a deep talent pool – make the 49ers’ scenario a mystery. King says this year that “the second pick is a fascinating, and a bit unfortunate, spot.”
“The book out there is that there’s Garrett, and then there’s about 15 other players who could be No. 2 on 32 draft boards,” writes King. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean … Lynch won’t have a strong market for the No. 2 pick, because if a team loves, say (North Carolina quarterback Mitch) Trubisky and feels it must get him, the Niners will be able to move down even if the return isn’t as lucrative as a traditional trade-down from that slot.”
One recent report suggests the Carolina Panthers are the team most likely to swing a deal for the 49ers’ No. 2 pick. Carolina is reported to be very interested in either Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas or LSU running back Leonard Fournette with the second choice, and would give up its No. 8 pick overall to the 49ers, along with its two second-round selections in this year’s draft, which begins April 27.