Just three days remain before the start of the 2023 NFL Draft on Thursday, April 27. Anticipation continues to build in this home stretch with NFL hopefuls anxiously awaiting to begin their professional careers and teams completing last-minute prep work before the selection process officially gets underway.
However, for the San Francisco 49ers, the action won't begin until Day 2 with the team slated to make the first of its 11 picks late in the third round. To kick off draft week, general manager John Lynch addressed the media to discuss the team's late-round draft strategy and offer quarterback updates on Brock Purdy, Trey Lance and Sam Darnold.
Here are six takeaways from Monday afternoon's press conference:
Lance has competition in mind as the team enters the thick of its offseason programming.
With Purdy still in the early stages of recovery from elbow surgery, Lance and Sam Darnold are the only healthy and available quarterbacks for the team's offseason programming. Lance, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in Week 2 of the 2022 season, now has an opportunity to make up for some of that lost playing time over the next few months. His offseason training has been well-documented up to this point and includes throwing alongside reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes.
"His mindset is all about competing, and I think that's exactly where his mindset should be," Lynch said. "We're excited about the position he's put himself in, the work he's done this offseason to No. 1 get healthy and No. 2 improve upon some things he really wanted to improve upon."
Purdy continues to work towards a three month benchmark and as of now, is "on schedule" in his recovery process.
As mentioned at the the NFL Scouting Combine and the NFL Annual League, more clarity on Purdy's timeline will become available at the 12 week post-surgery benchmark. Purdy underwent surgery on March 10, so he's roughly halfway to that point before he is expected to begin a throwing program and get a better projection for his full return. Purdy is back in The Bay and doing everything he is cleared to do at this time in an effort to work his way back to health.
"He's attacking each day. He's focused on each day," Lynch commented. "Dr. Meister said that an inflection point will be 12 weeks because that's when he's supposed to start throwing, but right now, he's focused on maxing each day."
Lynch sees a lot of depth in this year's prospects which matches up well with the 49ers position in the draft.
The 49ers braintrust is in a similar position to last year's draft with no first-round draft picks, and the task is not a daunting one for John Lynch, Kyle Shanahan and their staffs. When it comes to draft gems, the 49ers have a knack for finding them, and you've got to look no further than the 49ers 2022 seventh-round draft pick for proof of this. Purdy not only changed the perception of seventh-round pics but also the distinction of "Mr. Irrelevant" after starting eight-straight games for San Francisco and shattering league and franchise records on his way to the NFC Championship Game. The general manager believes there's plenty of talent that will be available late in the third round, and the team has done the prep work to capitalize on their 11 draft picks.
"If you ask what the themes of this draft are, one of them is the quality of depth in this draft," Lynch said. "That sets up well for our first pick being at No. 99 and then having 11 of them. The quality of depth is really a signature of this draft for me. There's a lot of good football players and a lot that we like."
Lynch shared the characteristics that he and his scouting department are on the lookout for when evaluating talent.
The 49ers brass has a proven track record for success when drafting late. Foundational players such as Fred Warner, George Kittle, Elijah Mitchell and Dre Greenlaw are just a few examples of players that have been drafted late and developed into recognizable talent across the league. So, what exactly is the 49ers recipe for success? Lynch pointed to collaboration between the personnel and coaching departments during the draft and some key characteristics that make players good fits for the locker room.
"We want tough, dependable, fast... smart football players," Lynch named off. "We want people that are contagiously competitive, who make people around you better because you're so darn intent on getting better... Those are the kind of guys that play well."
Keeping Bosa in red and gold continues to be a top priority for the general manager and the rest of the 49ers brass.
While the focus of the next week is on the draft, keeping the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year on the roster long term remains an important offseason goal for the 49ers. Bosa is entering the final season of his current contract after San Francisco picked up his fifth-year option this time last season, and the team is looking to reward the defensive lineman for a tremendous 2022. When asked about fielding trade offers for Bosa from other teams, the 49ers general manager had a fun reply.
"That hotline's closed," Lynch said jokingly. "That never opened."
Lynch expects to wait until after the draft to announce the team's decision regarding fifth-year options for Brandon Aiyuk and Javon Kinlaw.
The deadline to pick up fifth-year options for first-round draft picks is May 1, and the general manager opted not to disclose any decisions on Aiyuk or Kinlaw's contracts at the present date. This offseason, Lynch has been very enthusiastic about Aiyuk and Kinlaw and their futures with San Francisco. Aiyuk is coming off a breakthrough year in which he surpassed 1,000 receiving yards for the first time in his pro career. As for Kinlaw, the general manager spoke highly of the defensive lineman's offseason training that began shortly after the conclusion of the 49ers playoff run. He described Kinlaw as being in a "good spot" after struggling with a lingering knee issue for a large portion of last year.