Heading into his fourth draft as general manager, John Lynch addressed the media for the first time since February's Combine to discuss the San Francisco 49ers recent offseason moves and preparations for the first-ever fully digital draft. The 49ers enter Thursday with seven picks in the 2020 NFL Draft, with five occurring in Rounds 5 or later. With limited capital, the 49ers "have to make every pick we make count" according to Lynch. Here are the top takeaways from the call.
1. How Do the 49ers Replace DeForest Buckner?
At the conclusion of Super Bowl LIV, Lynch and Kyle Shanahan discussed their desire to keep the 49ers roster together heading into 2020. Most key pieces of their NFC Championship team stayed intact, aside from one of the biggest trades this offseason involving defensive tackle DeForest Buckner. Lynch called the move a "tough" business decision that was certainly done with a heavy heart.
"Probably the toughest thing I've done since I've been a general manager here and that's the trade with DeForest Buckner," Lynch said. "It's a difficult part of this business. One that I don't think you can really prepare yourself for when you move on from a player who embodies everything that you want to be about. We spend a lot of time talking about what's a 49er to us, and DeForest Buckner embodied that in every way both on and off the field.
"We talked about what we wanted to do our best to keep this team together. It became apparent in the discussions with (Buckner) that that wasn't going to be a possibility along with keeping our team together as we wanted to do so. The Colts entered the picture with a pick, not only a first-round pick but in the upper half, and we weighed that with the opportunity to sign other guys. It was one of those business decisions that's so tough."
He went on to suggest D.J. Jones, Solomon Thomas, Kevin Givens, Jullian Taylor and Kentavius Street are in-house candidates to step up in Buckner's place.
Arik Armstead, who was signed to a five-year contract extension this offseason, is another defensive lineman who has flexibility to play inside in nickel situations as well.
2. 49ers Willing to Move on from 13 & 31
Following the trade with the Colts, the 49ers picked up an additional first round selection. They'll have their choice of top talent in the draft and/or trading back to acquire more picks. San Francisco currently owns no Day 2 selections. Lynch has been transparent in his desire to add additional draft capital, and they're exploring options to do so.
"I'm comfortable saying that there are scenarios where we are going to be open at both of those picks to moving back," Lynch said. "We have two firsts, and then we don't have a pick until the fifth, where we have two picks, and then a sixth and two sevenths. So, with those picks, there's a big gap in there. So maybe you don't want 10 (picks), but a couple more might be nice just to close that gap."
Lynch was transparent in the possibility that the 49ers are open to moving on from one or both of their two first-round picks.
"There also are scenarios where we're going to be real convicted with a player at 13, and we have that in our mind," Lynch said. "Who are those players? I think the way you have to look at it is we lost a special player in Buck, a foundational-type player. So, if you can find a foundational player at 13, that's something you have to weigh. Can you find two more foundational players later on? I don't think you pass up on a guy that you think is a difference-maker at those spots."
According to Lynch, there are roughly six "foundational players" that would cause the 49ers to stand pat at 13 and 31. He and Shanahan are currently still working through the process of those options.
3. Addressing Trade Rumors
Reports were released on Monday morning stating the 49ers were open to trading several players in the coming weeks. Lynch went on record to clarify speculation, revealing the team has had "active" trade discussions surrounding wide receiver Marquise Goodwin.
Goodwin appeared in nine games last season and caught 12 passes for 186 yards and one touchdown before landing on Injured Reserve with a knee injury. Health has been a major issue for Goodwin, who has missed 12 games over the past two seasons.
"One thing I feel comfortable saying is that the one guy where there's actively discussions going on right now is Marquise Goodwin," Lynch said. "That's something we've been clear on. There's also a scenario where Marquise can help us. He brings a lot to the table. We have been in discussions. It came close a couple of times. There's a lot of different aspects to being able to close these deals and he's a guy, because we know he has value, we continue to hang on and we'll see if something happens here as we approach."
4. Joe Staley's Future in Year 14
There has been much speculation this offseason surrounding the future of the San Francisco 49ers longest tenured veteran. After signing a two-year contract extension last June, Joe Staley is expected to enter his 14th NFL season in 2020. Lynch revealed he has been in contact with the left tackle this offseason and has no reason to believe he's calling it quits just yet.
"We've kept in good contact with Joe," Lynch said. "He's doing his typical routine down with his family in San Diego working out. We're encouraged. We've heard nothing that would lead us to believe that Joe's not going to play. We're encouraged with that and we'll see where that goes."
Read more on Staley's future in San Francisco, here.