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What We Learned on Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft

Posted Apr 28, 2017

From a new cornerback on the roster to a surprise trade to get a quarterback, here's what we learned on Friday.


How naïve were we to think that John Lynch wasn’t going to try and top his opening act?

Day 1 of the 2017 NFL Draft saw the San Francisco 49ers add two standout defensive prospects while adding several other picks. So how could Day 2 live up to that benchmark?

After taking cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon with the 66th overall pick and trading away pick No. 67, Friday was fairly quiet by comparison, albeit productive all the same. Lynch met with reporters, and it appeared that the 49ers were content to stand pat through the rest of the third round.

And then the phone rang. The Minnesota Vikings expressed their interest in moving out of Pick No. 104, a compensatory selection towards the end of Round 3. San Francisco jumped at the chance and handed Minnesota pick Nos. 109 (fourth round) and 119 (seventh round).

With the 104th pick, the 49ers took Iowa quarterback C.J. Beathard.

Here’s what we learned about Witherspoon, Beathard and a pair of savvy trades from Lynch on Friday.

49ers Stay Defensive

San Francisco used the 66th overall pick on Witherspoon, who at 6-foot-3, provides the 49ers with another long and athletic option in the secondary. Lynch told reporters that his staff went back and watched Witherspoon’s tape again this afternoon.

“That made it clear that he was the guy we were going to take, if available,” Lynch said. “I feel like he’s got a lot of room for growth but his movement skills and his profile allow him to be an excellent scheme fit for us.”

The GM reached out to Colorado head coach Mike McIntyre last week to discuss Witherspoon’s potential as a pro. McIntyre, a former DB coach in the NFL, still has a keen eye for evaluating talent at the position. He sold Lynch on Witherspoon’s potential.

Witherspoon is still relatively new to the sport as he only played one year of football in high school. The Sacramento native spent most of his prep days as a baseball and soccer star.

“He has excellent feet,” Lynch said. “Soccer is a great sport for developing that. Coach McIntyre said that it’s a rare quality for the size he has. … He has a very unique skillset that we feel is going to translate well to what we do on defense.”

It appears that the 49ers have taken note of the Seattle Seahawks success with that style of corner. He joins Rashard Robinson and Dontae Johnson as defensive backs with similar build on the roster.

"I believe there's a big upside with Ahkello Witherspoon,” Lynch said. “I believe he can hang with big-time receivers."

Kyle Shanahan Has His Developmental Quarterback

Beathard had a more impressive 2015 season than 2016 season from a statistical standpoint. He threw for 2,809 yards in 2015 compared to 1,929 yards this past year. Shanahan said the tape showed him a different story.

“I saw him battle through adversity. Numbers are something that I very rarely look at. I just turn on the tape and watch it,” Shanahan said. “If you go through an entire game, does he do his job? I think he does his job very well, and he gives his team a very good chance to win.”

Beathard’s football pedigree was another draw. His grandfather is renowned NFL executive Bobby Beathard. Shanahan did make it clear that this move was not made to challenge Brian Hoyer’s spot on the depth chart. He does believe, however, that Beathard has the tools to eventually become an NFL starter.

“We’re bringing him in here to develop him,” Shanahan said. “We’ve got a lot of confidence in him. That’s why we took him. But he’s got a lot of work to do, and he’s got to earn his way here just like everyone else.”

Still Wheeling, Still Dealing

Lynch said that the “phone went crazy” as the third round approached. That will happen when you own two consecutive picks. The GM explained that there were players that the 49ers liked, but the New Orleans Saints trade offer was too rich to turn down.

In exchange for the 67th pick, the Saints gave San Francisco a seventh round pick in this year’s draft (229) and a second round pick in 2018.

“We felt like that was a really enticing offer,” Lynch said. “We were still able to get the guy we wanted (Witherspoon).”

The 49ers have now acquired two future selections over the past few days: the second-rounder from New Orleans and a third round pick from the Chicago Bears. San Francisco did send the seventh-rounder back to the Vikings in addition to their own fourth round pick.


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