If the 49ers can’t trade down out of the No. 2 overall slot in next week’s draft, many NFL analysts now are coming to an agreement on the team’s direction in the first two rounds.
The scenario is this: The Niners will take the best player available at No. 2, then get a quarterback with their Round 2 pick, No. 34 overall.
There is little consensus, however, on which quarterback the 49ers take at the top of the second round.
This week, ESPN’s longtime draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. predicted the 49ers will choose Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas with their top pick in Round 1, then select Texas Tech quarterback Pat Mahomes in Round 2. SB Nation’s David Fucillo noted that last week, ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay predicted the 49ers would take Thomas in Round 1 and Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson in Round 2. Another recent mock, by Rotoworld.com, has the 49ers taking Thomas No. 1 and Notre Dame quarterback DeShone Kizer with pick No. 2. Tony Pauline of Draftanalyst.com also projects a Thomas-Watson scenario.
Taking Thomas at the top of the draft and a quarterback for the future in Round 2 certainly isn’t a bad way to go, as the Oakland Raiders have shown. In 2014, the Raiders – in need of a franchise quarterback – selected defensive end/linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round, then picked quarterback Derek Carr in Round 2. Back then, Carr was expected to ride the bench while veteran Matt Schaub (acquired from the Texans) would start that year. Schaub was awful, however, and Carr looked solid, so Carr was the team’s No. 1 QB by the season opener.
The 49ers go into this season with veteran Brian Hoyer set to be the starter at quarterback, with Matt Barkley No. 2. If Mahomes, Watson or Kizer is the team’s second-round choice, the rookie wouldn’t be expected to start in 2017, but could be ready by 2018 or beyond.
The top-rated quarterbacks available in the draft this year are North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky, Watson, Kizer and Mahomes. Not all are considered locks to be first-round picks. Trubisky appears to be the only sure first-rounder. If one or two of the others slip into the second round, the 49ers could get their man – without forcing the issue by using their No. 2 overall choice on a quarterback.