The San Francisco 49ers could have spent the second day of the NFL draft watching film of their run to the Super Bowl instead of college prospects.
The defending NFC champion Niners had no picks in the second and third rounds of the draft Friday night thanks to trades that brought them two key pieces that helped them reach the Super Bowl in edge rusher Dee Ford and receiver Emmanuel Sanders.
”That’s not something you ever want to do,” coach Kyle Shanahan said after the opening round. ”But, I do believe those two things are what got us to the Super Bowl. Well I think it would have been, we were close, but it would have been very hard to get over the hump without those two guys. And that’s what has us in this situation this year.”
The 49ers dealt their 2020 second-round pick to Kansas City last offseason to acquire Ford, who made a big impact on the defense during the first half of the season before injuries slowed him the second half.
Ford is back this season as a key part of the team’s deep line that also features Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead and first-round pick Jevon Kinlaw.
Then midway through last season, the Niners dealt their third- and fourth-round picks to Denver for Sanders and a fifth-rounder. Sanders caught 36 passes in 10 games and contributed to a big improvement in the passing game.
But he left this offseason as a free agent for New Orleans and the Niners hope they found his replacement by taking Brandon Aiyuk with their second first-round pick.
The 49ers maneuvered in the first day of the draft, trading down a spot to No. 14 before taking Kinlaw and then up six spots to No. 25 for Aiyuk. They lost their own picks in the fifth and seventh rounds in those deals, as well as the fourth-round pick they got from Tampa Bay for moving down one spot.
San Francisco general manager John Lynch went into the draft possibly looking to add second-day picks but the Niners ended up with less draft capital in the final six rounds because they felt so highly about Kinlaw and Aiyuk and didn’t see many opportunities for rookies to make a deep roster.
”We get what we don’t have this year and that’s something John and I are going to work to never not be in again,” Shanahan said. ”But, you know what, if those decisions that put us here helped us last year, we’ll do that every time and that’s what we’re happy about.”
This marked the first time since 1995 that the 49ers didn’t make a pick in the second of third round. That year they gave up one of those picks to move up in the first round to take receiver J.J. Stokes 10th overall.
The 49ers enter the final day of the draft with three picks. They have pick No. 156 overall in the fifth round acquired from Denver in the Sanders trade, their own sixth-rounder at No. 210 and the third pick of the seventh round, No. 217, from Detroit.
They could go various directions with those picks, with the biggest needs being on the offensive line, secondary and a possible backup tight end.
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