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Lynch Shares Prospect Evals, Aiyuk Update; 4 Takeaways from the Draft Preview

The San Francisco 49ers are headed into this weekend's 2024 NFL Draft with 10 picks available and with no glaring needs on the roster following free agency. Through a variety of avenues from contract extensions, free agent additions, free agent re-signings and trades, the 49ers have positioned positively as they prepare to welcome their next generation of playmakers.

To open up the week, president of football operations and general manager John Lynch addressed the media and discussed the 49ers preparation to the selection process, his evaluation of the 2024 draft class and trade potential with the current slate of picks.

Below are four takeaways from Lynch's press conference:

NIL has played a factor in college players' decisions to enter the draft, and Lynch noted that does change talent availability in the late rounds. As it stands, seven of the 49ers 10 picks come in Round 4 or later.

"It's going to be an interesting year. I think it's an interesting draft class. I was just looking at my notes, and one interesting thing to me, in terms of dynamic, the way of the world right now - we put a grade on players in the fall if we think there is a more than a 50 percent chance that they are going to be in this draft. Eighty-three players from this draft class that we put grades on are back in college because of NIL and things like that. There is now a different route these kids can take, and 35 of those had starter grades. That's a significant amount and how that affects this draft, it's going to be interesting. I think the later rounds are probably going to be lacking. It's a new dynamic, one that I think we are going to be faced with each year... It is providing competition, and that's a significant amount of players."

Given the 49ers first-round draft position, there is trade potential, and per Lynch, that is true of every draft. Although trades do come up suddenly during the live draft process, calls regarding potential trade scenarios typically heat up during this week.

"My experience is that (calls or talks) happen during owner's meetings, but really this week is the week those calls start to say, 'Hey, just so you know we have some interest in potentially coming up.' You take note of that, and I anticipate some of that will come."

Lynch later discussed the 49ers history with trades and their openness to switching draft position.

"We've shown in our time here, you know, the very first move we made in a draft was trading back a spot, so we've traded back, we've traded up. I just think you have to be flexible... Sometimes trading back gets you later-round or mid-round picks, and then maybe your thought process is if that, the pick you gain allows you to move up some place else, then maybe that is a good thought. You have to prepare for all these scenarios, and we'll see where that goes. I think No. 31 is an interesting spot. I think at the end of Day 1 teams are eager to go get someone, so I would imagine there will be some calls. We'll be open and flexible. We've done it in a variety of ways and been successful in doing so. The big thing is just be prepared for every scenario."

Lynch spoke to the depth of tackles in this year'a draft and how certain picks may be addressing needs of the team beyond the 2024 season.

"I think (this draft class has) good tackles, good linemen. The interesting thing with these linemen in this draft, we think a lot of them have flexibility to be tackles and/or guards. So, that's nice, you take someone with versatility. There are some options, and part of the draft is that you're not always drafting for the immediate. Sometimes you're drafting for future needs. We have to be cognizant of that. We have to be smart with that in terms of how we allocate our resources. We have ten picks. You start asking yourself how many of those can make our team and how we want to approach that. That's part of what makes this whole thing so fun... I do think, a strength of this draft is a lot of premium positions are strong. That is exciting."

Lynch also offered a small update on the ongoing conversations with wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk regarding his contract extension.

"With BA, I've communicated on a couple occasions, on many occasions, our wish. Our wish is that he's here and part of the 49ers for the rest of his career. We're working through that, and as such, I was a player once, and I never liked my business being out in the public. I'm going to respect that. I am not going to speak for their side. I can say we're having good talks, and I'm just going to leave it at that."

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