With the third overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the San Francisco 49ers selected Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas. The pass-rusher was a force for the Cardinal defense in 2016 with 14 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks.
John Lynch opted to trade the No. 2 pick for the Chicago Bears, who climbed up one spot to take quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The 49ers GM added two picks (a third-rounder and fourth-rounder as well as a third-rounder in 2018) to his 2017 arsenal and still got his guy. Not a bad start to his tenure in San Francisco.
Thomas will be expected to be an immediate impact player who will help bolster the 49ers pass-rush. San Francisco's defense ranked tied for 19th in 2016 with 33 sacks.
"I'm so excited," Thomas said in a press conference shortly after being drafted. "I'm so blessed to be on such an amazing organization and be a 49er. I can't wait to get back to the Bay Area. I'm so happy."
San Francisco has now used first round picks on defensive linemen in three consecutive drafts. Arik Armstead was the 17th overall pick in 2015 and DeForest Buckner was the seventh overall pick in 2018. Those two, along with Thomas, figure to be focal points in Robert Saleh's 4-3 defensive scheme.
"I watched Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in college. So, I tried to see them a little bit more, and they're great young players on the rise. It's going to be an honor to learn from them."
Of note, Thomas' draft stock began to skyrocket following a dominant performance in the Sun Bowl where he tormented Trubisky all four quarters. The pair of top-five selections will see each other again in Week 13 when the 49ers travel to Soldier Field to play the Bears.
"He's an extraordinary young man," said Stanford head coach David Shaw on NFL Network's broadcast. "I'm looking forward to seeing what he does at the next level."
This is the second year in a row that the 49ers have taken a former Stanford player in the first round. They took Joshua Garnett with the No. 28 pick in 2016.