The biggest story of the 2017 NFL Draft's first round was, by far, the San Francisco 49ers sliding all over the place and nabbing two fantastic football players in Solomon Thomas (No. 3) and Reuben Foster (No. 31). Rookie GM and certainly helped San Francisco's short- and long-term prognosis with those picks.
The biggest win for the 49ers was moving down from No. 2 to No. 3 for picks from the Bears and still managing to get Thomas. But they didn't know that was going to happen, according to a revealing inside-the-war-room story from Peter King of TheMMQB.com.
King was embedded with John Lynch and Kyle Shanahan throughout their first draft together, and there's a pile of nuggets inside the story about how the weekend came and went.
Notably, the Bears would not tell the 49ers who they were taking as part of the trade up (the 49ers would not make the deal until the Browns actually selected Myles Garrett first, ) so it was a huge surprise to even San Francisco when Mitchell Trubisky came off the board second.
During the negotiations -- the two teams eventually reached a handshake deal -- contract guru Parag Marathe tried to pry the info on the No. 2 pick from Bears GM Ryan Pace.
From King's story:
"Hey," Marathe said, "can you tell me who you're taking? I'm so curious."
Off the phone, Marathe said to Lynch and Shanahan: "He [Pace] said, 'I think you guys are going to be comfortable with what we do.' So I don't know what that is."
The 49ers more or less believed Thomas was the pick at No. 2. They heard chatter it could be Trubisky, but like the rest of the league, no one believed Chicago would trade up to draft a quarterback so soon after paying Mike Glennon.
"Man, who do they want?" Lynch said. "Gotta be Solomon, right?"
"Call me crazy," Marathe said. "But I think it's Trubisky."
"Then why'd they go get [free-agent quarterback Mike] Glennon?" Lynch said.
So when Chicago pulled on Trubisky, EVERYONE was stunned. Trubisky didn't know the Bears were picking, Bears coach John Fox might not have known the Bears were picking him and the 49ers definitely didn't see it coming.
Lynch and Shanahan were resigned to the Bears taking Thomas and then trying to trade down in the draft to get the third player on their board, Reuben Foster, the linebacker out of Alabama with serious red flags. If they couldn't move down, they would just bite the bullet and take Foster at No. 3.
But even with Thomas there, they couldn't get trade offers from anyone in the 4-12 range. So they snagged Thomas and sat back to see how the board unfolded.
When Foster slid past the Bengals (who took wideout John Ross at No. 9), the 49ers were surprised. Once he got to 12, they started to make calls with every team remaining in the first round. They couldn't work out a deal to get up to grab Foster. The Buccaneers (O.J. Howard) didn't want to trade. The Dolphins, Giants and Raiders all turned them down.
Then they got hold of a division rival, the Seahawks. Hilarity ensued (for Seattle).
Seattle GM John Schneider (26) called.
Marathe: "John, we got a nice juicy fourth pick in the fourth round, 111 overall, for you to move … Yeah, I know, but we like 67 [the third-round pick] too."
Schneider would think about it.
"He's got to pee," Marathe said. "He'll call back."
You read the whole story (which you should do) and it definitely sounds like Schneider, a fairly notorious comedian, was messing with the 49ers. The result of that was a minimal amount of time left for the 49ers to leap back into the first round and steal Foster.
Which is how the Saints were on the phone with Foster, saying they would pick him at No. 32, when Lynch ended up breaking into the call and .
Needless to say, the 49ers were ecstatic. Jed York called it the "pick we had no business getting." Linebackers coach Johnny Holland called Foster "one of the three, four best linebackers to come out of college in the last 10 years." Mike Mayock praised Foster for having "Luke Kuechly tape" on NFL Network.
There's more to the story, including how the 49ers drafted Joe Williams, a running back that wasn't on the board, as well as a quarterback with some football history-ish comparisons to Joe Montana. Seriously, read the whole thing.
It's a reminder that sometimes it's much better to be lucky than it is to be good. And that the draft, while not actually a living, breathing animal, is pretty freaking fluid most of the time.