SANTA CLARA — John Lynch may or may not pick well during the upcoming NFL draft, which starts Thursday. But, at least he won’t make the envelope mistake.
The 49ers GM made that clear Monday during his pre-draft press conference with Bay Area reporters.
Lynch’s predecessor, Trent Baalke, invented the envelope mistake. He smugly announced during his pre-draft press conference in 2012 that he had written the name of the player he intended to draft, and sealed that name in an envelope. The player was wide receiver A.J. Jenkins, one of the biggest busts in 49ers franchise history. He’s no longer in the league. And neither is Baalke.
The envelope sealed his fate.
Here’s what Lynch said Monday about his approach to the draft, and his plans for the 49ers first round pick: “What’s important for us being at (pick) No. 9 is you don’t just fall in love with one player. You better have multiple answers because multiple things could happen in terms of how this draft breaks.
“We’re prepared for any of that. We’re going to be aggressive in finding the guys that we like. We won’t be afraid to trade up if we need to. And if we feel like we’re strengthening our team by moving back, we won’t be afraid to do that as well.”
In other words, nothing is signed, sealed or delivered. The 49ers haven’t decided what they’ll do with the ninth pick. They may not even keep the pick.
Last year, the 49ers traded up three times: Once in Round 1 to take linebacker Reuben Foster, once in Round 3 to take quarterback C.J. Beathard and once in Round 4 to take running back Joe Williams.
Is it possible the 49ers will trade up in Round 1 again this year?
“We could,” Lynch said. “It’s an interesting (draft) for a couple of reasons. The teams up top are doing a tremendous job of not telegraphing their intentions, and there are four quarterbacks up at the top. That always changes things.
“I do think that not needing a quarterback, and all those quarterbacks likely being up there (at the top of the draft) — that’s going to push some really good football players back.”
The four quarterbacks Lynch expects will get selected in the top 10 are USC’s Sam Darnold, Wyoming’s Josh Allen, UCLA’s Josh Rosen and Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield. The 49ers aren’t in the market for any of them because they have their starter, Jimmy Garoppolo. So, one of the top-five non-quarterbacks on the 49ers draft board should be available if they keep the ninth pick.
Lynch made it seem more likely he would keep the ninth pick or trade down rather than up in Round 1 this year. “There are a lot of people around this league that feel there are about 100 players (who will be) starters in this draft,” Lynch said. “I think it’s a deep draft. That excites us.”
The 49ers currently have four picks in the top 100 — pick Nos. 9, 59, 70 and 74. They may choose to trade down from pick No. 9 and collect more top-100 picks. And if they trade down, they probably won’t drop below the 12th pick. “After the top 12 players, there’s a little bit of a drop,” Lynch said. Those 12 are the only players Lynch and the 49ers project as future Pro Bowlers.