The San Francisco 49ers took a backseat on night one of the 2023 NFL draft on Thursday, April 27. But defensive captain Arik Armstead couldn’t help but marvel at one team’s impressive night. Fittingly, the moves that caught Armstead’s attention involved an aggressive play caller the versatile defensive lineman knows quite well.
The Houston Texans emerged as one of the big winners in the first round in the first NFL draft for new head coach DeMeco Ryans. With the former 49ers defensive coordinator running the coaching show in H-Town now, Ryans and the Texans immediately got aggressive by snatching quarterback C.J. Stroud at No. 2 overall but then, made the first big trade of the night by swooping up the Arizona Cardinals’ spot at No. 3. They went on to use that pickup to snatch Will Anderson of Alabama to ignite the pass rush.
With three words, Armstead sounded off strongly with “DeMeco ain’t Playing!!!”
CJ Stroud Selection Also Ended Trade Thought
Stroud not only went behind the top pick Bryce Young, but the Ohio State quarterback additionally helped fan any trade talk smoke involving the 49ers’ Trey Lance.
Prior to the event, there was the report from Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network indicating the 49ers were receiving calls asking for the No. 3 overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Rapoport stated that it wasn’t the 49ers beginning the trade chatter conversations, but were merely answering the calls coming from teams asking for Lance.
With Lance’s name surfacing as a trade possibility, the thoughts of him heading to the Texans surfaced.
Bleacher Report NFL columnist Maurice Moton mentioned the Texans as the No. 1 possible suitor for Lance if the 49ers were to move away from him. Moton believed that the Texans could send the 104th pick (fourth rounder) to the Niners in exchange for the North Dakota State standout.
“Remember, new Texans head coach DeMeco Ryans came over from San Francisco. So he’s had an up-close look at Lance over the past two years. If the young quarterback made a decent impression on the 49ers’ former defensive coordinator, Houston may opt to send a middle-round pick for him,” Moton wrote.
But instead, the dual-threat Stroud becomes Ryans’ first building block at quarterback.
No. 3 Selection Labeled ‘Pro Bowl Talent’ Before First NFL Snap
The Alabama defensive star Anderson entered the draft as one of the more heavily hyped prospects following a dominating collegiate run.
Anderson emerged as a three-year starter for an always-stacked Crimson Tide defense and got NFL teams and scouts fawning over his combination of long arms and a wicked get-off once the ball is snapped. His intangibles and production got nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein already writing him as a “Pro Bowl talent” in his evaluation.
“Three-year starter for vaunted Alabama program with eye-popping production that encapsulates his potential impact. Anderson is well-built with long arms. He has the rush get-off and skill level to consistently shave edges or pry open rush paths with inside moves,” Zierlein wrote.
Now, the 6-foot-3, 253-pounder with 4.6 speed in the 40-yard dash becomes the first defensive pick in the new era of Ryans — and will be walking into a 49ers’ defensive attack being constructed by the former defensive coordinator who, clearly, wasn’t playing around on his first draft night.