49ers trade down, draft Stanford’s Solomon Thomas
For the third time in franchise history, the San Francisco 49ers entered Thursday’s NFL Draft with the No. 2 overall pick.
Consistent with popular belief, first year general manager John Lynch made a deal to trade out of that position.
But instead of trading down into the middle of the first round as many predicted, San Francisco opted to swap picks with the Chicago Bears, who sat one spot below them at No. 3.
With that third overall pick, the 49ers selected another Pac-12 defensive lineman for the third consecutive season, plucking Chicago native Solomon Thomas out of Stanford.
For that No. 2 overall pick, Lynch and company secured an additional third- and fourth-round selection in this year’s draft, as well as a conditional third-rounder in 2018.
Many believe this to be a steal, as San Francisco was planning on taking Thomas with the No. 2 pick before Chicago called.
So 49ers end up getting the guy they would have taken at pick No. 2 … and pick up three more picks in the process. #Lynch
— Matt Barrows (@mattbarrows) April 28, 2017
Chicago in turn, decided to select QB Mitchell Trubisky with their newly-acquired pick, leaving the 49ers with the guy they had planned on taking all along.
In three years at Stanford, Thomas racked up a total of 101 tackles, 11.5 sacks, 25.5 tackles for loss, four fumble recoveries and two defensive touchdowns scored.
Thomas was also named a Second-Team All-American by USA Today and a Third-Team All-American by the Associated Press in 2016.
Hopes around the 49ers organization is that Thomas will be able to shore up a 49ers defensive line and help transform a porous defense that hemorrhaged 308 yards per game last season.
The other defensive lineman who will have his hand in the dirt along with Thomas, Buckner and Armstead will be Aaron Lynch, who 49er defensive coordinator Robert Saleh says will be featured at LEO, or the premier pass rusher, in a 4-3 defensive scheme.
In past years, the 49ers have employed a 3-4 defensive system that featured four linebackers and three defensive linemen.
Even though the 49ers have a multitude of positions left to assess, the thought is that San Francisco will look to add a cornerback in the next round, as this year’s draft class is cornerback-rich.