Yes you heard that correctly, the San Francisco 49ers selected two players in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft Thursday night. The expectation around the league was that the 49ers were going to trade out of one, or both of their first round picks, and they did —- but not the way we expected.
The first handful of picks ahead of the 49ers at 13 were pretty uneventful. There were no trades throughout the first twelve selections, and then the 49ers were on the clock. 49ers General Manager John Lynch made a trade with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who swapped picks, moving the 49ers down one spot to the 14th overall pick. The 49ers obtained a fourth-round pick in the trade and selected DL Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina.
After drafting Kinlaw, and collecting a pick in a round where they did not have a selection, the 49ers made another move with the 31st overall pick, a move nobody saw coming. Trading up from the 31st pick, the 49ers swapped picks with the Minnesota Vikings, giving up the fourth-round pick they acquired from the Bucs, in order to draft WR Brandon Aiyuk out of Arizona State with the 25th overall pick.
The 49ers did what most expected them to do, they traded out of both of their first round picks, except they did it in a surprising way. With two new players joining the team, how did San Francisco do in the first round?
Kinlaw has big shoes to fill on the defensive line
The 49ers did what made the most sense in my opinion. They weren’t able to keep DeForest Buckner because of the money he commanded, so they went out and used the pick he netted them to draft his replacement who is much, much cheaper and will be around a lot longer.
Kinlaw was somebody I linked to the 49ers in this piece, where I broke down his game. The 49ers selected a defensive lineman in the first round for the fifth time in the last six years, sticking true to what they do best, getting after the quarterback.
The trade downward and selection of Kinlaw garnered mostly positive feedback from those who cover the draft. Kinlaw is a monster, he has nothing but untapped potential and should continue to get better and better for years to come.
One potential red flag with Kinlaw is his injury history. He has suffered a similar knee injury to DE Dee Ford, an injury that bothered him all of last season.
Aside from the minor injury concern, and the little bit of development he still needs, the Kinlaw pick is a very solid selection, and one that just makes a lot of sense.
The 49ers trading up for an offensive player has not gone well in the past. Will there be a better result this time around?
Joe Williams, C.J. Beathard, Dante Pettis. Those are the three offensive players that Kyle Shanahan has fallen in love with, resulting in John Lynch trading up to draft each of them. All three of those trades have not worked out well for the 49ers.
Shanahan once again fell in love with a prospect, and once again Lynch traded up to get him, this time it was for receiver Brandon Aiyuk, who very well could be worth it, and then some.
Aiyuk was another player I had linked to the 49ers in the late first-round in this article. He’s not the fastest receiver in the class, but he’s a very good route runner, he has an enormous wing-span, a great vertical, and he’s a yards-after-catch monster. Pairing him with Deebo Samuel and George Kittle will create a nightmare for opposing defenses.
Aiyuk is similar to Samuel, in that you just need to get him the ball any way you can. He’s a play-maker, he’s a home run hitter, he’s a great compliment to what the 49ers do on offense. Not to mention, he’s great in the return game, an area the 49ers have struggled with the past few seasons.
With both Jerry Jeudy and CeeDee Lamb on the board for the 49ers at pick 14, many expected them to grab one of those two, given that they were the two best receivers in the class according to most, including myself. Shanahan, of course, had other ideas.
Will the 49ers trading up for another offensive player work out in the long run? Time will tell, but right now it’s safe to say that Aiyuk is not like the rest of those players previously mentioned, he has a chance to really be something special, and the 49ers added a big piece to their offense Thursday night.
First round grades
Overall, 49ers fans should be pleased with their first round haul. The team filled two positions of needs left by veteran players who have departed (Buckner and Emmanuel Sanders).
They’re keen on continuing the defensive line dominance that propelled them to the Super Bowl in 2019, and i applaud them for that. They drafted a receiver who fits very well with what the 49ers like to do on offense, and that makes sense.
Overall, I would give the 49ers a B+ grade for their first-round selections. I personally, would have taken one of Jeudy or Lamb with the 14th overall pick, but as always, Shanahan loves his guys.
Trading away their fourth round pick to move up and grab Aiyuk, leaves the 49ers without a pick Friday night in rounds 2 through 4. Will they trade into one of those rounds? It’s unlikely, but its hard to imagine Lynch is not working the phones. Right now, it’s looking like the 49ers won’t be picking again until the 5th round on Saturday.