San Francisco 49ers Best Direction in the 2016 NFL Draft
It looks like the 49ers are going to force a quarterback pick in this draft. Peter King recently suggested that four quarterbacks are likely to go in the first round so it would make sense that the 49ers are taking one of those four.
Making a trade into the top five to pick Carson Wentz or Jared Goff would be a mistake. Picking Wentz or Goff if they fall to the seventh overall pick would be a mistake. The 49ers shouldn’t force a quarterback pick in a year where there aren’t viable options at the top of the draft. It would make sense that Trent Baalke is pushing them in that direction though. Baalke needs to re-infuse the franchise with optimism and adding a quarterback typically does that.
Baalke should be under pressure this year. Having forced Jim Harbaugh away, he essentially punted the 2015 season by hiring and then firing Jim Tomsula. Chip Kelly was supposedly brought in to only be the head coach, leaving Baalke exposed to criticism or credit depending on how much talent the team can acquire.
If Baalke puts an emphasis on winning in 2016, then selecting Wentz or Goff won’t do much to help. Even the majority of those who consider Wentz and Goff to be quality starters don’t expect either player to come in and be effective from day one.
That doesn’t mean the 49ers have an obvious option though. Blaine Gabbert is still terrible, Colin Kaepernick doesn’t fit in Chip Kelly’s offense and is about to be traded regardless. Passing on a quarterback would be the best move for the franchise, but it would mean that they are essentially acknowledging that 2016 will be a year that is solely focused on development.
Picking Vernon Adams later in the draft would make the most sense for the 49ers, but the NFL apparently doesn’t view Adams as a legitimate option on the next level. Therefore, trading for Nick Foles to act as a stop-gap for a season makes a lot of sense. Foles should come relatively cheaply because of his contract situation.
Anyway, surpassed the depressing state of the 49ers quarterback options and their realistic solutions the roster does need a lot of work. One of the moves I would have suggested before Peter King mentioned it was to trade Anthony Davis. The returning right tackle isn’t an ideal fit in Chip Kelly’s scheme. He would be better suited to play in a power-run offense rather than one that should rely so heavily on zone. Trading Antoine Bethea is another move that King suggests, that one also makes sense as Bethea is too old to be part of a rebuilding process.
To be honest, there are view players on the 49ers roster who should be protected. Joe Staley could fetch a high second-round pick, Torrey Smith wouldn’t offer as much in return but there could be value there also. NaVorro Bowman is about to turn 28 and has that major knee injury in his recent history. Moving on from Bowman shouldn’t be a priority but a strong offer definitely shouldn’t be dismissed.
Why should the 49ers be willing to cut bait with so many players? It’s not that because they need to appease Chip Kelly’s desire to destroy his own roster, it’s that the roster as a whole has too many flaws to project positivity in 2016. Stockpiling picks didn’t work out in the past, but that doesn’t mean the franchise should avoid adding capital that they can invest in their roster.
Diving deeper into a rebuild, maybe with one eye on DeShaun Watson next year, makes more sense than reaching for a quarterback this year.