NEW YORK (CBS SF) — John Lynch got two players he wanted in his first draft as San Francisco 49ers general manager.
The front-office novice was able to move down one spot in the NFL draft on Thursday night before taking Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas to upgrade a porous defense. The Niners got the 67th overall pick and pick No. 111 this year and a third-rounder next year from Chicago in the deal as the Bears wanted to move up to draft North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky.
Lynch ended up with the player he would have taken with the second pick at No. 3 and plenty of extra loot to fill additional holes. Thomas is the third straight defensive lineman taken with San Francisco’s top pick, following Arik Armstead in 2015 and DeForest Buckner last year.
Thomas has the versatility to play outside on the base defense where he is an elite run stopper and inside as a pass rusher in nickel situations. He had eight sacks and 15 tackles for loss last season at Stanford when he was named the top defensive lineman in the Pac-12.
Lynch, as a Stanford graduate, is quite familiar with Thomas. He has spent time around the program in recent years and even took a class on decision-making with Thomas where they collaborated on a project.
“He’s an extraordinary young man,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw said on NFL Network’s broadcast. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he does at the next level.”
Before the night was over, the 49ers struck a second trade. They acquired the 31st overall pick from the Seattle Seahawks and selected Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster.
San Francisco sent their second and fourth round picks to Seattle to complete the deal.
Foster was expected to go higher in the draft, but tested positive for a diluted urine sample at the NFL combine. He also had questions about a shoulder injury that was recently deemed “100 percent”.
“The young man’s going to be disappointed, he felt like he was one of the better players,” said general manager John Lynch of Foster’s fallen draft stock. “But this was a place Reuben wanted to be.”
Until Foster, the 49ers had not taken an inside linebacker in the first round since Patrick Willis.
Now they will try to fix a defense that set franchise worsts for points, yards and yards rushing allowed in a single season in 2016. That contributed to a 2-14 record that matched the worst in team history and led to the firing of coach Chip Kelly and general manager Trent Baalke.
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