Why the 49ers Should Avoid Offensive Lineman at Pick No. 13
With the No. 13 pick in the NFL draft, the San Francisco 49ers can go a variety of ways.
The 49ers can trade down from the pick or stand pat and draft a receiver, find DeForest Buckner’s immediate replacement, draft Richard Sherman’s eventual replacement, or even draft Joe Staley’s eventual replacement.
A lot of speculation has been geared towards the latter. Rumors have been circulating that John Lynch has been scouting Louisville’s Mekhi Becton, one of the top tackle prospects in the draft. These rumors circulated when Lynch posted an in-home video, where the Louisville offense appeared to be on the screen of his monitor.
According to Matt Maiocco of NBCS, Becton was the only offensive player Louisville sent to the scouting combine, which is why Lynch is believed to have been doing his due diligence on the top prospect.
The tackles in this draft class are projected to have long successful futures in the NFL. Alabama’s Jedrick Willis, Iowa’s Tristan Wirfs, and Becton are largely considered the top three tackle prospects in this draft. All three have been discussed as top 10 picks, but there is a good chance one of them slides to the 49ers at 13.
Behind the big three follow: Georgia’s Andrew Thomas, USC’s Austin Jackson, and Houston’s Josh Jones. Thomas, Jackson, and Jones all are expected to go in the 1st round as well. The 49ers could definitely find Joe Staley’s future replacement in this draft.
However, it may not be their best move.
Staley will be 36 when the 2020 season starts, but he is still playing at a very high level. When the 49ers drafted Mike McGlinchey with the Ninth pick 2 years ago, everyone thought he was Staley’s eventual replacement. Then the next day the 49ers traded Trent Brown, and here comes McGlinchey as the starting right tackle. As of now, it looks like that is where McGlinchey will stay.
Last season, Joe Staley missed 9 games with leg and finger injuries. It was the first time Staley played less than half a season in his entire career. When Staley was inactive, rookie Justin Skule and Dan Brunskill filled in admirably. The 49ers main backup swing tackle, Shon Coleman, was hurt all of last year. With a healthy Coleman and the rest of the depth behind Staley and McGlinchey, the 49ers could hold off on addressing the tackle position this year.
Of course, the 49ers could upgrade the interior of their offensive line. Laken Tomlinson and Weston Richburg are expected to keep their starting job at left guard and center. However, right guard is where it is up in the air. As it stands, Brunskill or Ben Garland are favorites to land the position, with competition from Tom Compton (signed from the Jets) and a potential rookie.No interior offensive lineman in this draft is worth the 13th pick. There are no Quenton Nelsons on the draft board.
Could the 49ers draft a high-end tackle at No. 13 to play guard for a year or two and then replace Staley at left tackle? Perhaps. However, the 49ers should look to add an impact player with the 13th overall pick. With the 13th overall pick, drafting a tackle to play guard for a year does not impact the roster the same way a wide receiver, defensive tackle, or cornerback would. Drafting a wide receiver like Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs, or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb, would certainly create an instant impact for the offense.
Defensively, Auburn’s Derrick Brown or South Carolina’s Javon Kinlaw could step in to help fill Deforest Buckner’s void. Furthermore, this would ensure the 49ers defense doesn’t skip a beat with Buckner’s departure. Florida’s C.J. Henderson could step in and become the 49ers No. 2 corner, and eventually become the 49ers' primary starter when Sherman is no longer around.
The 49ers need an impact rookie with this pick, who will contribute to the team’s immediate success. In the NFL, Super Bowl windows close fast. Unless you’re an outlier like the New England Patriots have been this entire century, you need to capitalize on a Super Bowl worthy roster immediately. That is why the 49ers must use their first pick on a player who will create an immediate impact.
Two seasons ago, the Los Angeles Rams were the up and coming team in the NFL. A season removed from a Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, the Rams finished 9-7 and without a playoff berth (though they would’ve been the 7th and final playoff team, with the new playoff format). With the tremendous off season the Arizona Cardinals are having, there are debates going on regarding who is the fourth-best team in the NFC West, which is arguably the best division in football.
Life comes at you fast in the NFL, as you can see with the Rams. John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and company have taken the necessary steps to ensure the 49ers don’t end up in the position like the Rams. A position where your roster is loaded with a handful of stars, but has no money and draft picks to sustain success.
So far, the 49ers are on the right track towards setting the team up for long-term success. They have a chance at a solidifying their vision when it is their turn to select a prospect. Whoever that player may be, it needs to be an immediate impact type and not an offensive lineman.