It’s an interesting ecosystem at the Renaissance Hotel in Mobile Ala., during the week of the Senior Bowl. The hotel serves as the hub for all of the week’s events. Some of the prospects were just arriving on Monday afternoon as the buzz at Senior Bowl headquarters picked up. An escalator ride up from the lobby is where most of the action can be found.
A few live broadcasts had already begun in what’s set up to be a mini radio row. Personnel from all 32 teams mingled with prospects bustling about. This week isn’t like the NFL Combine – there are no organized interviews. It’s upon each scout to track down the players from their respective regions. It’s easy to spot the side conversations representing informal interviews taking place as if the floor was designed for speed dating.
And that’s where the San Francisco 49ers hold such a key advantage this week. Sure, 49ers scouts will still have to track down their respective prospects. But as you probably know by know, San Francisco is coaching the South Team this year. That means the entire organization will have much more exposure to each player on the South roster.
Team (and position) meetings are the real bonus. Each day the 49ers will have every prospect on the South Team for a few hours – essentially force-feeding them San Francisco’s own schemes (albeit rudimentary versions) in less than a week’s time. Kyle Shanahan has invited all 49ers scouts to sit in on these meetings so that they’re able to see exactly what the coaches are seeing. It will be a comprehensive evaluation process for everyone within both the coaching and personnel side of the organization.
View the photos of the prospects that Kyle Shanahan and the rest of the 49ers coaching staff will coach on the South Roster at the 2019 Senior Bowl.
“(The players) are in a high-stress situation,” Lynch said. “There’s a lot going on, and there’s a lot at stake for all of them. We get to see how they’re going to respond, and we get to do it with the added bonus of being in the meeting rooms.
“(The scouts are) watching the way they interact with coaches. They’re watching what they’re taught and how they’re able to apply, or not apply, that the next day (at practice). It really is a great opportunity.”
This entire process speaks to the collaboration and cohesiveness between Lynch and Shanahan’s respective verticals within the organization. If Shanahan and the coaching staff are planning on making any slight scheme changes, it behooves them to articulate that to the scouts so that everyone is looking for the same traits within a given prospect.
Practices offer another benefit. Although the three sessions from Tuesday to Thursday aren’t private, it’s the 49ers who will be organizing the entire thing to their liking. Should they want to see two specific players go against one another in 1-on-1’s, they can make it happen. They can give a prospect an extra rep if they want to see him in a certain look or package. They can move the players around the field as they see fit. So while all 32 teams are seeing each rep, the 49ers are more closely able to tell if a player would be a fit in their own system.
All of that should lead to an informative and productive week as San Francisco gears up for the 2019 NFL Draft.
“Our opportunity to separate and distance ourselves from the league is because we collaborate so well as a personnel staff and as a coaching staff,” Lynch said. “It’s a small example, but not every team that has done the Senior Bowl has allowed their scouts to be in every meeting. That’s natural for us. We like being around each other. We respect each other’s opinions.”