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By: Kyle Madson
The 49ers enter the 2022 NFL draft in a somewhat unique position. For the first time in the Kyle Shanahan-John Lynch era they find themselves without a slew of glaring needs, which opens the door for them to take a couple swings they might not have taken in the past.
San Francisco has a roster that appears built for a deep postseason run. The only real holes on the roster are at the two offensive guard spots, but over the last two drafts they’ve used three picks, including one in the second round, to try and find quality guard play. On top of that they’re bringing back starting right guard Daniel Brunskill. Beyond that there aren’t a ton of areas where the 49ers might need to look beyond their roster for a starter this year.
The door is open for the 49ers to take some chances on players with a ton of upside who may not be ready in 2022, but have the tools to perhaps contribute in a bigger way in 2023 and beyond.
Avoiding a disaster like the 2012 draft is important since they’ll need to rely on at least some members of their 2022 class over the next handful of years. However, they can still use a couple picks to go with high-risk, high-reward prospects since they may not need them to contribute right away.
Betting on traits is how the 49ers continue stumbling into late-round gems like George Kittle, Dre Greenlaw, DJ Jones and Elijah Mitchell. All those players wound up contributing relatively quickly, but they all had very strong physical tools that made them appealing in the later rounds. San Francisco wasn’t reaching for specific needs in the fifth and sixth rounds and they landed some of their best selections of the Shanahan-Lynch era.
That’s the philosophy they can now bring earlier into this draft where they might find a legitimate Pro Bowl-caliber contributor in Rounds 3 or 4. They can shoot for high ceilings instead of high floors, and position can for the most part be a non-factor.
Ideally they’d land players with top-end traits who can also step in and play right away. They don’t need to chase that immediate production though, and that’s a good place to be going into a draft. Lynch and the front office can draft knowing their picks could have a year to develop behind the veteran starters.
The 2022 draft isn’t the most important of the Shanahan-Lynch tenure, but it could be their most successful if they take some big swings and connect.
Originally posted on Niners Wire