Can 49ers' Lynch Produce Another Strong Rookie Class? - NBC Bay Area
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Can 49ers' Lynch Produce Another Strong Rookie Class?

His first two rookie crops as general manager have given team a solid foundation, but he needs to score again in April

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    Can 49ers' Lynch Produce Another Strong Rookie Class?
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    Tackle Mike McGlinchey was the top pick of the 49ers' 2018 draft class, and a success as a rookie starter. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

    In his first two seasons as an NFL general manager, John Lynch has fared well in the draft. With another selection process approaching in April, 49ers fans hope Lynch can do as well as he did in 2017 and 2018.

    In NFL.com’s annual postseason grading of each franchise’s rookie class, the 49ers and Lynch recently received a B grade for its 2018 draft choices and rookie free agents. That follows an A grade for its 2017 class (though developments of the past year might knock that down a level).

    In evaluating the 2018 class of seven draft picks – led by offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey as the ninth overall selection in Round 1 – Jeremy Bergman of NFL.com wrote:

    “John Lynch’s second draft in San Francisco was a solid sophomore effort. McGlinchey immediately slid into San Francisco’s starting lineup, led the offense in snaps and made the PFWA All-Rookie Team. An impressive run blocker, McGlinchey is still vulnerable as a pass protector, but San Francisco has both of its tackle positions solved.

    “(Linebacker Fred) Warner led the defense in snaps and tackles (123) and held down as best he could a linebacking corps that lost Reuben Foster midseason. The injury-prone (wide receiver Dante) Pettis remains unrefined but dangerous in the receiving game. He did not show his touted return capabilities in his rookie campaign, unlike (receiver Richie) James, who was a consistent threat on kick returns. (Running back Jeff) Wilson was a nice find who filled in and surprised down the stretch.”

    A year ago, NFL.com gave Lynch & Co. an A grade for a class that included two first-rounders (defensive tackle Solomon Thomas and linebacker Foster), cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, quarterback C.J. Beathard, running back Joe Williams, tight end George Kittle, wideout Trent Taylor, safety Adrian Colbert and two notable free-agent signees, running back Matt Breida and wide receiver Kendrick Bourne.

    Foster, of course, was released for off-field incidents, Thomas has had mixed reviews and Williams didn’t produce. But Kittle has become one of the NFL’s best tight ends and Breida has been terrific.

    If the 49ers can have another strong rookie class this year – and gain an impact player with the No. 2 overall choice – the team’s foundation for growth appears solid.