The start of many NFL journeys will begin in less than a week's time with the 2023 NFL Draft kicking off on Thursday, April 27. The three-day event is the next key date on the league's offseason calendar, and for the San Francisco 49ers, it marks the next opportunity to add talent to the team's roster for the upcoming 2023 season.
As it stands, the 49ers have a total of 11 picks in this year's draft, beginning with three selections in the third round. Both general manager John Lynch and head coach Kyle Shanahan have reiterated the goal of this year's draft throughout the offseason. Adding depth to roster is the name of the game for the 49ers with much of the team's core remaining intact after the free agency frenzy. San Francisco's brass, much like in 2022, will look to find gems in the later rounds to fill out the roster.
"The draft sets up well with the way we are positioned this year... To me, the blue chip players, there aren't as many this year, but there is good depth," Lynch said. "I think there is good value, and we seem to do well at pick 100 and back. We're in our sweet spot. We've got to make them count."
Ahead of Round 1 on Thursday, NFL media analyst Daniel Jeremiah previewed some of the trending topics surrounding this year's draft.
Lynch and Shanahan's success with late round draft picks has been well documented over their six-year career in The Bay. Several of the team's key players - Fred Warner, George Kittle, Dre Greenlaw and Elijah Mitchell - just to name a few, were selected in the third round or later. The 49ers formula for finding draft gems continues to be a subject of interest for teams around the league. Here's how Jeremiah summed up the 49ers draft strategy:
"I think they've figured out the makeup part of this whole thing. They have found it," Jeremiah said during his NFL Network preview call. "Sometimes this thing is not evaluating these guys as players. It's evaluating them as people and competitors and all that. I've got to believe it helps having John there as somebody who kind of epitomizes what you would want in a football player. He knows what it looks like. With him and Adam Peters, who I think is as good as anybody in the league at evaluating players, they've got a great personnel department. Kyle has a really good idea of what he wants at every position. So, when you get a coaching staff that gives you a good menu and you get guys that know how to go find it, you get a lot of success."
Second-year pro Brock Purdy was also named during Jeremiah's preview in the discussion surrounding "Mr. Irrelevant." Purdy, who was the final pick of the 2022 NFL Draft, took home the title last year and shattered every norm associated with the "Mr. Irrelevant" distinction. The former seventh-round pick went on to start eight games for San Francisco, leading the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game and breaking league and franchise records along the way.
The quarterback's success made a big impression in 2022, and as a result, teams may be rethinking the old schools of thought involving late and seventh-round draft picks.
"With Brock Purdy, I think it's not only impacting what could happen late in the draft in terms of maybe, 'Okay, this guy has played a lot of football. He is a good player,'" Jeremiah said. "Maybe he is not the 'wow' traits, but maybe that helps a player like that. I also think it's going to impact where that next tier of quarterbacks comes off the board. In other words, if you are looking at a quarterback, and you're looking at the third-round group, and you start getting into the Jaren Halls and the Jake Haeners, the Tanner McKees, the DTRs from UCLA, the traits that made Purdy a hit, I think teams are going to place a lot more premium on the traits that he possessed in terms of accuracy, intelligence, decision-making."