49ers GM Lynch Plays it Smart, Gets Stanford DE Thomas and Extra Picks

Niners new GM trades down from No. 2 to No. 3 with Bears to collect three extra picks, then selects Stanford's standout defensive lineman

Niners general manager John Lynch is brand new to the job. Before he was hired recently, he’d never worked in an NFL front office. He's a rookie.

Yet the former All-Pro safety showed Thursday night he knows what he’s doing.

After the Browns took defensive end Myles Garrett with the No. 1 pick, Lynch traded down from No. 2 to No. 3 and selected Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas – a player many predicted they would have taken at No. 2.

In return for moving down one spot – because the Bears were so eager to select quarterback Mitch Trubisky at No. 2 – Lynch and the 49ers collected the No. 3 pick, a third- and fourth-round pick in this draft and a third-rounder in 2018.

“The 49ers’ massive return on moving down one spot in the NFL draft suggests there was a huge bidding war for that pick,” wrote Kevin Seifert of ESPN’s NFL Nation. “The only way the Bears give up that much is if multiple teams – probably including the Browns – were also bidding.”

Bill Williamson, a senior NFL writer for the website, tweeted this, after Lynch’s trade with the Bears was announced: “John Lynch is the early star of the #NFLDraft.”

Tweeted ESPN’s Michael Wilbon: “Did John Lynch have a gun and a mask?”

Lynch, in fact, had claimed the 49ers were “open for business” with the No. 2 overall section, eager to listen to offers. And, no doubt, they played their hand perfectly, with recent leaks that they might take a quarterback with the second pick. That put pressure on the Bears (and others) to try to move up if they wanted Trubisky, from North Carolina.

Thomas gives the 49ers a dynamic edge rusher and the third straight defensive lineman taken by the team with its first pick, following DeForest Buckner last year and Arik Armstead the year before.

Thomas, 6-foot-3 and 273 pounds, could play on the outside or inside of the defensive front, which will transform to more of a 4-3 base scheme in 2017 after years as a 3-4 base unit. This past season, Thomas, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, had 62 tackles including 15 for loss and had eight sacks.

The 49ers’ next pick will be the No. 2 choice in Round 2 Friday, the 34th overall.

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