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 All22.com, 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.