When San Francisco 49ers GM John Lynch held his pre-draft conference call Tuesday, he seemed in high spirits despite having somewhat limited draft capital to work with. Acknowledging his team would have “to make every pick we make count,” Lynch also discussed the ways he and his team might utilize their two first round selections.
“I’m comfortable saying that there are scenarios where we are going to be open at both of those picks to moving back,” Lynch said. As it turned out, the Niners traded each of their first-round picks. The Niners ended up trading the 13th pick and a seventh rounder to Tampa Bay for the 14th pick and a fourth rounder (No. 117).
The 49ers’ First Selection: No. 14 Overall, Courtesy of DeForest Buckner Trade
When the Niners sent defensive lineman DeForest Buckner to the Colts, they snagged the Colts’ only first-round pick in this year’s draft. It ended up turning into two picks for Lynch and company.
“We talked about what we wanted to do our best to keep this team together,” Lynch said. It became apparent in the discussions with (Buckner) that that wasn’t going to be a possibility along with keeping our team together as we wanted to do so. The Colts entered the picture with a pick, not only a first-round pick but in the upper half, and we weighed that with the opportunity to sign other guys. It was one of those business decisions that’s so tough.”
49ers Second Pick in First Round: Trade Up to No. 25 for WR
San Francisco also had the 31st overall pick in the draft. Lynch and Shanahan decided to move up this time, trading their 31st overall pick to the Minnesota Vikings along with the 117th they had just gotten from the Buccaneers earlier in the evening and the 176th overall in exchange for the 25th pick. At No. 25, the 49ers selected Arizona State wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk.
In Aiyuk, the Niners will get a speedy wideout who can also contribute right away in the return game.
In two seasons at Arizona State, Aiyuk caught 98 passes for 1,666 yards and 11 touchdowns. He averaged a hefty 17 yards-per-catch, and his play-making ability will be a welcome addition to a 49ers offense that recently lost top wideout Emmanuel Sanders. Aiyuk should be able to help quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo right away.
The Draft Network nicely laid out why Aiyuk is an attractive young prospect at wideout:
“For a team looking for a game-breaker in terms of post-catch production, a vertical presence or a dynamic return guy then Aiyuk brings and exciting skill set to the table. Aiyuk does have some “niche” tendencies, but the areas he does excel in represents strong value to a franchise. He doesn’t come without restrictions but Aiyuk’s big play ability makes them easier to live with. Aiyuk can contribute right away from the slot with manufactured touches and vertical shots while serving as the primary return guy while he looks to become a more complete wide receiver.”
Here are some of Aiyuk’s highlights at ASU: