San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch met with the media on Monday at Levi's® Stadium for his pre-draft press conference. In a nearly 30 minute sit-down, Lynch previewed San Francisco's strategy for the 2022 NFL Draft and gave insight into the team's offseason moves so far, including player updates, free agency goals and OTA attendance.
Here are five things we learned from Lynch's session with the media:
1 - Previewing the 2022 NFL Draft
The 2022 NFL Draft is only a few days away, and Lynch is confident about the moves the team will make on draft day.
Although the 49ers are not scheduled to pick in the first round, Lynch shared the team is comfortable at pick No. 61 because of just how deep the upcoming draft class is and the great number of quality prospects. Due to COVID, many young athletes were given the opportunity to continue playing at the collegiate level, therefore making this class significantly deep.
As of now, the 49ers own nine-total selections, including three on Day 2.
"I really do believe that it's a quality draft," Lynch said. "A draft where you have nine picks and the first one isn't until 61. I think it sets up well for that because there is tremendous depth in this draft.
"It's going to be a little boring on Day 1. We're not used to that. We're used to having some action and we'll see, that might happen again. But, otherwise, we'll kind of sit through and continue to work so that when we get to our pick, whenever that is, we're ready to make it the best move for the 49ers."
2 - Noteworthy Player Updates
An offseason buzz has circulated around 49ers players and their contract statuses, most notably wide receiver Deebo Samuel, defensive end Nick Bosa, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and center Alex Mack. Lynch shed some light on where the team stands with each player with respect to the confidentiality of their individual contracts and private business deals.
Here's what Lynch had to say regarding updates to a few 49ers:
"I can't ever imagine wanting to move on from Deebo," Lynch said. "He's just too good of a player… To come up with someone like Deebo who, to me, has just been a game-changing player for our franchise. I've told Deebo this, I think he's the perfect illustration of what (former NFL coach) Herm Edwards used to talk about when will meets skill, you've got the opportunity to be special. And I think Deebo probably embodies that as much as anyone, he's got tremendous will, he's a very talented player.
"We've got nothing but love for him and nothing but appreciation for what he's brought, but you just don't let guys like that walk. I can't envision a scenario where we would."
"We exercised his fifth-year option… I've maintained consistently that Nick, in our minds, we're going to do everything we can to keep him a part of this organization. He's a foundational player, much like Deebo, a difference maker. And he's just a year out, because he was a first-round pick. And so, we exercised that fifth-year option and, at the appropriate time, we'll endeavor to make that a reality that he's here for a long time, but it's all good there."
"Jimmy is working hard in the rehab process. He did his surgery down in Los Angeles and is doing the rehab down there. We've been in contact with his representation and in communication with him.
"His progress is good, he's tracking right where we said, throwing towards the end of June and then ramping it up from there… We'll be patient with that one."
"I think that, yeah, (playing on the team) still remains a possibility. He hasn't spoken on it with finality, but I think it does remain fluid … at the appropriate time, Alex will comment on that."
3 - State of the Offensive Line
In his pre-draft press conference, Lynch mentioned the possibility of using draft picks to "bolster" the offensive line.
However, the 49ers "feel good" about their current position group lineup.
"We drafted a couple young players last year that we're very excited about," Lynch said. "They're going to have to make the most of their opportunities. Aaron Banks and Jaylon Moore, we were very happy with both of them. I think a lot of people probably crossed the signals because they weren't playing their rookie year, that wasn't the case. We just had guys in front of them that were very hard to beat out. (New York Jets G) Laken (Tomlinson) obviously moved on. And so, there's an open spot there and a lot of people will compete for it, but I think Banks has a great shot at that. And Jaylon's a guy we're really excited about, he's worked his tail off this offseason.
"Daniel Brunskill remains here and Dan's a hard guy to beat out. He's going to push and he's always going to do what's necessary to hang on. And we've got some guys like Jake Brendel and Brunskill has versatility to go play center.
"We're really excited about having Mike McGlinchey back as well. Mike's a good player and a guy who's meant a lot to us and our success around here and watching he and Javon Kinlaw out here kind of become partners in the rehab process has been a fun evolution to watch them get better. And he's doing really well and we're going to give him the necessary time to be fully healthy and I think he'll be back to being a big part of who we are."
4 - Meeting Offseason Goals
After the 2021 season ended, Lynch and the rest of the 49ers front office reflected on their areas of improvement. Their most important needs were met during free agency, as they signed on players to enhance their special teams unit that also fit into the 49ers offense and defense.
The team's top goal of adding an elite cornerback was also met with the signing of Charvarius Ward.
"(We looked) at our roster and said, 'Where do we need to be better?' And we think we've addressed those areas," Lynch said. "A common theme was we wanted to be better, holistically, on special teams, but we never just want to have special teams players. We want guys that fit into our offense or defense. And Ray-Ray McCloud III is a perfect example of that, Oren Burks is a perfect example of that. A very good special teams player, but also a very capable linebacker who provides depth. George Odum is another example, a guy who started meaningful games for the Colts last year and played at what we thought was a really high level at safety, but this guy's an All-Pro special teams player as well. You add a guy like Kemoko Turay late, he's got very good rush skills and we feel like he can thrive in our system.
"Our number one goal was to add a top-flight corner that can match up with the top receivers in this league. And man, I can't tell you how excited we are about Charvarius… I'm really excited with where our team's at."
5 - OTA Attendance
Phase One of San Francisco's organized team activities are currently being held, however, Phase Two is where the main training will take place in preparation for training camp.
During the OTAs all coaches are allowed on the field, however, there is no live contact nor any one-on-one offense versus defense drills. Team drills and special teams drills are allowed and helmets are authorized, but no other pads are permitted.
The entire offseason training program, excluding the mandatory minicamp, are voluntary for players.
"OTA Attendance is up over 90 percent," Lynch said. "Phase Two starts Monday of next week and we'll get pretty much the remainder of guys that aren't here back. So, we'll be close to 100 percent come Phase Two. Phase Two, the coaches get out on the fields with our guys, but our attendance is really good right now. And it speaks to the job our health and performance staff do. Guys like training here, we have a lot of resources for those guys and they like being a part of the program."