SANTA CLARA – After some late intrigue surrounding the No. 1 overall pick, the Cleveland Browns went with the player universally considered the top NFL prospect.
Myles Garrett went with the first selection, then the 49ers traded back one spot with the Chicago Bears, who chose North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
The 49ers still got the player they would have chosen with the No. 2 overall pick: Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas with the second pick.
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General manager John Lynch engineered a trade that enabled the 49ers to pick up third and fourth-round draft picks this year, as well as the Bears’ third-round pick next year to move back one spot.
With the selection of Thomas, the 49ers have now chosen defensive linemen with their first picks in each of the past three drafts.
The 49ers picked Arik Armstead with the No. 17 pick in 2015. Last year, in Trent Baalke’s final draft as general manager, the 49ers chose DeForest Buckner with the No. 7 pick.
Thomas becomes the highest-drafted defensive player from Stanford in school history. The Minnesota Vikings selected Stanford linebacker Jeff Siemon No. 10 overall in 1972.
The 49ers finished with a 2-14 record last season in Chip Kelly’s only season to land in the No. 2 draft slot. CEO Jed York fired Kelly and Baalke at the conclusion of the season.
Lynch had been shopping the No. 2 overall pick in trade scenarios in recent weeks. The 49ers accomplished their goal, trading back one spot and getting a bounty of picks to help in the rebuilding project.
The 49ers chose Thomas over such players as running back Leonard Fournette, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen and safety Jamal Adams.
Thomas, who spent five years in Australia as a youngster, came to Stanford as a top 25 national recruit. In his final college season, Thomas led the Cardinal with 62 tackles, 15 for loss, and eight quarterback sacks. He was an All-American and chosen as the winner of the Morris Trophy, awarded to the Pac-12 defensive lineman of the year.
Thomas appears to be a fit at multiple positions along the line in new defensive coordinator Robert Saleh’s scheme. While he might be best-suited for an interior position, new coach Kyle Shanahan said recently at Stanford’s pro day that he believes Thomas can play the team’s pass-rush position.
The 49ers have struggled to generate much of a pass rush since the departure of Aldon Smith, whom the club released prior to the 2015 season after multiple off-field incidents.
Ahmad Brooks and Buckner tied for the team-lead last season with six sacks. Brooks and Aaron Lynch led the 49ers in 2015 with 6.5 sacks apiece. Brooks and Lynch both recorded six sacks in ’14 to lead the team.
The 49ers have nine draft picks remaining. Their next scheduled pick comes Friday with the second selection of the second round, No. 34 overall.