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What We Learned on Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft

Posted Apr 29, 2017

The 49ers made a few more trades and drafted six players on Saturday to conclude the 2017 NFL Draft.


The San Francisco 49ers 2017 draft class is complete with 10 new names added to the roster. John Lynch made six selections on Saturday: Utah running back Joe Williams, Iowa tight end George Kittle, Louisiana Tech wide receiver Trent Taylor, Mississippi defensive lineman D.J. Jones, Utah defensive lineman Pita Taumoepenu and Miami safety Adrian Colbert.

San Francisco also traded for Denver Broncos running back Kapri Bibbs.

Here’s what we learned on Day 3 now that the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books.

“I didn't think I’d trade so much”

That was Lynch’s response when asked about what surprised him during his first draft as an NFL GM.

“I thought I was a pretty conservative guy,” Lynch said to get a laugh out of the media on hand.

San Francisco made six trades in all, two of which added draft capital for 2018. The deals were one away from setting a franchise record. The wheeling and dealing wasn’t planned going in, but they were opportunistic moves in order to select impact players on their draft board.

“I’m real proud of this draft,” Lynch said. “Our scouts did an excellent job, along with our coaches.”

“I’m as excited as John (is) as well as the rest of our organization,” Kyle Shanahan added. “I think we’ve improved a whole lot.”



Joe Williams Passed Character Test

When Lynch heard that Williams quit the team at Utah, he removed him from consideration. It was Shanahan who circled back to Williams’ tape and decided that the 49ers needed to take a harder look as to why the running back took a few weeks away from football in 2016.

As it turns out, Williams was still battling some demons that stemmed from the passing of his sister in 2006. San Francisco’s lone fourth round pick shared his story to reporters on a conference call following his selection. Williams had several in-depth conversations with 49ers running back’s coach to prove that his head was back in the right place.

Lynch called Williams himself on Saturday morning to confirm his feelings that he was drafting a new man.

“We got really comfortable with the kid and a better understanding of what his story was,” Lynch said. “His head coach Kyle Wittingham made it very clear that he did not quit the team. He physically and mentally got tired and he broke down. … His teammates welcomed him back with open arms.”

As for Williams’ talent as a ball-carrier…

“His ability to run the ball is as good as anybody’s as far as speed, cutting ability, running through tackles and his overall balance,” Shanahan said.


49ers Got a Stud in the Slot

San Francisco used a fifth round pick on Taylor. The Louisiana Tech product was the lone receiver added during the draft.

“The thing I look for the most is specific traits that we can take advantage of,” Shanahan said. “Trent is as good in the slot role as anyone we were looking at in the draft. He really owned that spot. He’s very quick, and his body is always under him. He can make cuts. 

“What impressed me the most, apart from his separation ability, was when he got the ball in his hands, he ran angry and pissed off. He gets up the field, and he’s not scared to get hit. He’s a competitive, violent runner. Those are the guys who keep you on the field and move the chains. 

Taylor led the nation with 1,803 receiving yards on 136 receptions in 2016 and scored 12 touchdowns for the Bulldogs.


Vance McDonald was on the Trade Block

The reports were true. San Francisco was shopping Vance McDonald throughout the draft. But that isn’t necessarily an indictment of the tight end opposed to other players on the roster. On the contrary, his name was involved in trade discussions due to the interest from other teams.

“That’s the reality of new regimes. We had some interest and explored some options.”

Lynch didn’t pull the trigger on an offer, which means that McDonald still has an opportunity to compete in San Francisco. Shanahan told reporters that he left the tight end a voicemail on Saturday night and added that they’ll talk in person on Monday.

“We took over a 2-14 team, and we need to get better in every aspect,” Shanahan added. “It wasn’t just Vance, but we did it with Vance because people were interested. … From the texts that Vance sent me, I think he knows it’s nothing personal.”

McDonald has 64 receptions for 866 yards and seven touchdowns in four seasons with the 49ers.

What’s Next?

Lynch said that the 49ers have already begun to call undrafted free agents. San Francisco currently has six openings on its roster. Stay tuned to 49ers.com for details on anyone who is added to the roster.


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