The San Francisco 49ers made it all the way to Super Bowl LIV in 2019, and this young team has the potential to run it back next season. The young defensive line, their stable of running backs and Jimmy Garoppolo's career year carried the 49ers from selecting No. 2 overall in the 2019 NFL Draft to the precipice of NFL glory in less than a calendar year.
There are still some issues the 49ers need to address this offseason if they want to repeat as NFC champions. They lost a couple of key pieces in free agency and traded DeForest Buckner away for a first-round pick. San Francisco also would like to add to the secondary and maybe a couple of pieces along the offensive front as well.
This is a deep draft class, and the 49ers can capture a Lombardi Trophy next season if they take advantage of it. Let's take a look at what a perfect draft would look like for the 49ers this year.
Step 1: Take a top wideout in the first round
Thanks to the No. 13 overall pick the 49ers acquired from the Indianapolis Colts, Kyle Shanahan has a chance to add a top wideout in this class. While this is considered one of the deepest classes in recent memory when it comes to the wide receiver position, there are three who are considered elite: Jerry Jeudy, CeeDee Lamb and Henry Ruggs III. The 49ers likely won't have their pick of the litter with teams such as the New York Jets and Las Vegas Raiders ahead of them, but they will have a chance at one of the three wideouts who can come in and immediately make an impact on this team.
Losing Emmanuel Sanders was pretty big this offseason. Deebo Samuel has already proven that he can be a legitimate starter in this league and the 49ers also have some prospective young talent in guys like Kendrick Bourne and Jalen Hurd, but why not select a wideout that can come in and immediately help this offense take their game to another level? If we are truly trying to figure out if Garoppolo is the quarterback of the future, we need to set him up for success with the talent John Lynch places around him.
Step 2: Trade back before addressing the offensive line
While the 49ers' offensive line looks great on paper, four out of five starters missed time with injuries during the 2019 season. Additionally, left tackle Joe Staley turns 36 this offseason and it could be his last NFL season. If I was Lynch, I would take multiple offensive lineman in this draft, and I would trade back to do so by giving up a sixth-round pick along with that second first-round pick to acquire second and third-round picks.
has the 49ers taking former Boise State offensive tackle Ezra Cleveland in the second round after that proposed trade, and I think that would be a great pick considering that he will have the opportunity to learn behind Staley and also serve as a swing tackle.
Step 3: Scout the CB class and decide on one with potential
Richard Sherman and Emmanuel Moseley had nice seasons in 2019, but overall this position group isn't exactly one of San Francisco's strengths. There are plenty of intriguing prospects that will go around Day 3 -- such as Bryce Hall out of Virginia. He would've been a first or second-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, but returned for his senior season and then suffered a broken ankle early in the year. It was such a bad injury, he was unable to participate in the Senior Bowl or the NFL combine in February, but Hall could be a steal later on in the draft. If Hall does not drop like I anticipate, A.J. Green out of Oklahoma State is someone with good size I would be interested in or Lamar Jackson out of Nebraska if he falls. The fifth round could be an ideal spot to address this issue.
Step 4: Replace DeForest Buckner
The 49ers had the best defensive line in the NFL last season and it showed. While this line is still great without Buckner, Nick Bosa and Co. will want to maintain that reputation heading into next season. If the 49ers do trade out of the first and give up their No. 31 pick and a sixth-round pick for a second and a third, one prospect I'm very interested in is Raekwon Davis out of Alabama. He's not really a top five defensive line prospect in this class, but he's 6-foot-6 and 311 pounds. Take a look at him in pads and try to tell me with a straight face that he does not have potential. Interestingly enough, NFL analyst Lance Zierlein actually compares him to Buckner.
"Rugged and powerful with elite physical traits, Davis has the ability to impose his will on opponents and dominate at the point of attack," writes Zierlein. "He plays long and strong with rare leverage for a taller player and holds positioning against double teams for linebackers to flow freely."
Coming out of the draft with a top WR at No. 13, an offensive tackle like Ezra Cleveland after a trade back to the second round, Raekwon Davis in the third round and cornerback depth on Day 3 is how the 49ers could earn an A+ grade despite their lack of mid-round picks.