The San Francisco 49ers ended Day 2 of the NFL Draft up one pass rusher, one running back and one wide receiver, with Drake Jackson, Tyrion Davis-Price and Danny Gray, respectively.
It was somewhat of a surprise that Jackson was available when the 49ers had their first pick (61) of the Draft in the second round, but not even a little bit of a surprise that the 49ers went defensive line.
“Kyle and I sat on our hands and it was just miserable,” said 49ers general manager John Lynch. “We’re not used to sitting back and waiting. It was tough but I’m glad we did because it allowed us to make these three picks today. It was a long wait to 61, but glad we did it. Glad we had that patience.”
It was a little more of a surprise that they went running back next, after drafting two last year, and less of a surprise they ended the night with a wide receiver. Not lost in this is the fact that they have a very unhappy wideback in Deebo Samuel, and the latter picks can perhaps take some of the workload off Samuel.
“I think they both can, but we thought we needed another running back,” said 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan. “I definitely thought we would have loved to add a speed receiver. There’s a lot of ways the draft could have gone, but right there those picks in the third round we definitely felt were the best for our team.”
Gray is fast, making him a deep ball threat, while he averaged 10.6 yards after the catch on passes thrown 5 or fewer yards downfield last year at SMU. The YAC Brothers may be getting a fourth. Meanwhile, Davis-Price is a big, physical back with tremendous blocking ability.
“You turn on the film, and [Jackson] just jumps off the film in terms of his athleticism and talent and length and all the things – his ability to turn the corner and redirect, all the things we look for and covet in a defensive end,” Lynch said. “Then we brought Drake in and got a real good feel for him as a person. Really worked hard on him and thrilled to be able to land him…Tyrion is a guy we’re very fond of, has a style that can best be described as physical and tough, and he’s also got some speed to go with that package. When you can add toughness and speed, he’s in a bigger package. Danny Gray does it probably in a smaller package, but still has those two qualities of he can flat-out get it…[H]is coach, Sonny Dykes…was great during the process just kind of explaining who the kid is and talked about him as a player…”
But first, let’s talk about Deebo.
In case you missed it, among contract extensions that have gone awry, Samuel asked for a trade.
“We were surprised,” Shanahan said. “Also, once it does happen, you know this business, so it can’t surprise you too much. But yeah, we were disappointed a little bit. But it’s part of this business. You’ll consider anything. You have a responsibility to help your organization the most you can. Losing a player like Deebo, it’s hard to see how that helps your organization. You try to look into all aspects and what people are willing to do. Nothing was remotely close to what we thought was fair to us or the 49ers.”
So Round 1 of the Draft came and went with reported offers, and Samuel is still on the roster.
When asked if the 49ers spoke to Samuel on Thursday and let him know he wouldn’t be traded, Shanahan said, “I haven’t talked to Deebo in a couple of weeks.”
The fact remains that Samuel is disgruntled. They’re not trading him. Can they move forward in a way where everyone is comfortable, or at least more comfortable?
“We have a great relationship with Deebo,” Shanahan said. “I haven’t seen him a lot since the season ended. It’s a little bit easier when you’re dealing with people without screens and phones in front you…You know somebody. They know you…We’ve been with him for three years. We know him pretty well. He knows us pretty well.
“I know things haven’t been the best over the past couple months, through outside perception, but I see that happen a lot in this league, especially in contract situations. You try not to overreact one way or the other on it. You try to be patient with it, because emotions can get high with people. A lot is riding on it. But you can’t react to it.
“When it’s all said and done, you do what’s right for the organization, and you try to get a win-win for both sides.”
What makes Samuel so unique may be the source of contention. He has been used as a wide receiver and a running back, or a wideback (a term he coined late in the season), and there has been speculation that the usage and the money surrounding the different positions has been an issue.
“I could sit here and talk what we said for a long time, which I’m not going to do,” Shanahan said. “There’s a lot of things that play into it and those are things we’ll discuss with Deebo. I’d love to share it all with everybody so people can understand more. It’s not right to Deebo. It’s not right to the 49ers. Hopefully we can work this out and some day it will clear up for you guys.”
What They Said About the Picks
On Drake Jackson
“Ultimately you want the finishers, but we also look at a lot of different metrics,” Lynch said. “Our R&D, our eyes, all those things, I’d say he’s incredibly disruptive. He played in a bunch of different schemes and they moved him around a lot, so we think his best football is in front of him. But things such as quick disruption, something we study a lot, he was tops in the country.”
On Tyrion Davis-Price
“…[U]ltimately do you like the player, do you have a vision for that player, and does he fit something you think can not only improve your team, but is that the best fit for us,” said Lynch. “At the time we just thought he was a tremendous fit for exactly what we’re looking for. I think a great complement to Elijah [Mitchell], and I think we envision a great role for Trey Sermon going forward, for Jeff Wilson. There’s plenty of room for these guys…[W]e emphasize the run game here and we want versatile backs. I think we have that with our collection of guys, and we’re excited about that group.”
“…[T]he kind of the physicality that he brings gives you a chance to have a very physical one-two punch,” Shanahan said. “…We’re a running team, we like to run the ball, and any time you have a chance to get a good back, if that is what’s best for your team compared to all the other positions, I don’t think you can ever go wrong with a back because just look at not only us, but everybody, you play with a lot of them.”
On Danny Gray
“We feel pretty good about our receivers,” Shanahan said. “We just felt good about the skill set that Danny had…This wasn’t at all a position we had to go do, but when you look at there in the third round, you look at the speed asset this kid has that brings something different to the rest of our guys…”
Patience Is a Virtue
“So yesterday we kind of knew what the deal was, today was probably harder, just waiting for 61,” Lynch said. “…[O]ur defensive line is very much at the forefront of this team. We’ve got a philosophy. That’s the great equalizer in today’s defensive football. We had kind of zeroed in on just a couple of pass rushers that we felt were difference makers, otherwise we were going to turn to other needs, and Drake happened to be one of those. We really held out hope that he could last until 61. We didn’t think he would. We were tempted many times to move up, and we sat back instead. I’m glad we did because it allowed us to take these other two. We likely would have had to have given away one of those picks and instead we got all three, so that’s nice.”