SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- The 2017 NFL draft is to begin April 27 in Philadelphia. The San Francisco 49ers own 10 picks in this year's draft, including No. 2 overall.
With a new regime in coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch in place, it's hard to know what direction the 49ers will go with their picks. But they have plenty of needs as they go about reconstructing their roster.
Here's a look at what the 49ers need at quarterback:
Potential fits: Clemson's Deshaun Watson, North Carolina's Mitchell Trubisky, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer, Texas Tech's Patrick Mahomes, California's Davis Webb, Miami's Brad Kaaya, Pittsburgh's Nathan Peterman, Tennessee's Joshua Dobbs, Virginia Tech's Jerod Evans, Mississippi's Chad Kelly, Iowa's C.J. Beathard, Baylor's Seth Russell.
What’s needed: For anyone paying attention, there's no greater need here than a franchise quarterback. For a brief period of time, the 49ers thought they finally had that guy in Colin Kaepernick but without a dominant supporting cast, Kaepernick regressed and is now a free agent. The 49ers signed veterans Hoyer and Barkley in free agency. Shanahan feels comfortable with Hoyer as his starter heading into the 2017 season, but Shanahan and Lynch have never minced words about the importance of finding a quarterback who can handle the position for the long haul. They're well aware that player isn't on the roster.
"We’re really happy with what we have right now but yet, I have been very upfront with you guys and everyone, Kyle and I, when you start talking about priorities, this is a quarterback-driven league," Lynch said. "I knew that when I played. I learned it even more as a broadcaster, because I don’t think I could ever admit it as a player, because I didn’t want to give those guys that much credit. I had to play against them. But as I stepped in that broadcast booth, you talk about commonalities between the teams who have had sustained success, they’ve got that guy minus a few anomalies. Some of the teams I played on in Tampa that were defensive-driven.
"But that’s a common thread. As long as Kyle and I are here, we’re going to be searching for one of those guys."
So the question isn't really if the 49ers will be adding another quarterback and investing in the guy they believe can be the future, but when? Though Shanahan and Lynch have consistently discussed the need to find a quarterback, they've also said patience can be a virtue in these situations. With bigger and better possibilities on the horizon in 2018 -- both in the draft and free agency -- Shanahan and Lynch might be willing to wait to find the right fit. Armed with six-year contracts, it's feasible for the 49ers regime to be a little patient -- especially knowing that picking the wrong guy can set them back even further.
Verdict: Chances are, the 49ers will have their choice of any quarterback they want with the second overall pick. The Cleveland Browns are expected to take Texas A&M pass-rusher Myles Garrett, and even if they throw a curveball and take a quarterback like Trubisky, the 49ers would be in a prime position to take Garrett, auction the pick in a trade or take another quarterback. Still, it's hard to shake the idea that a Shanahan reunion with Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins is coming at some point. Even if it's not this year, the 49ers can wait and potentially pounce on him as a free agent next year. And if that doesn't pan out, they could find someone else in the draft or pursue someone like New England's Jimmy Garoppolo. All of those options seem to point to the idea that the 49ers won't be using the second overall pick on a quarterback. We can't rule it out entirely given the amount of work they've put in on this class, but there seems to be a more likely plan of attack for the position.
That plan? Waiting until the middle rounds (or potentially even moving back into the end of the first round if someone they love falls) to get a developmental prospect that Shanahan can get in the system and begin building without having to play right away. Someone like Kizer would be an intriguing fit in Round 2, and players like Peterman, Dobbs and Evans would be interesting possibilities in Rounds 3 or 4. That way, Shanahan would have a young player with the skill set he wants to work with while also keeping an eye toward the future.