The Faithful have spoken, and they’re not too enthused about the 49ers potentially trading the earlier of two first-round picks in this month’s NFL draft.
Over two-thirds of the respondents to the Pro Football Focus’ 49ers-dedicated Twitter account indicated they don’t want San Francisco to trade down from the No. 13 overall pick on April 23.
Should the #49ers trade down from 13 overall of given the chance?
— PFF SF 49ers (@PFF_49ers) April 4, 2020
The 49ers didn’t have the selection until they traded defensive tackle DeForest Buckner to the Indianapolis Colts. San Francisco’s first pick otherwise would’ve occurred at No. 31 overall, and the 49ers still don’t have picks in the draft’s second, third or fourth rounds.
Trading down from one — or both — of their first-round selections would help the 49ers recoup some much-needed draft picks. San Francisco’s roster is set to become more expensive as its young core gets older, with tight end George Kittle’s potentially record-setting contract extension likely to loom over the coming season.
Finding contributors on rookie contracts, like edge rusher Nick Bosa and wide receiver Deebo Samuel last season, will become even more crucial if the 49ers are going to keep their title window open. They need not look any further than the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams for how quickly a window can close in the absence of affordable talent.
Dealing either of their first-round picks would help the 49ers replenish the cupboard, but they also won’t have as much high-end talent to choose from if they trade back from No. 13. NBC Sports Bay Area’s Dalton Johnson and Josh Schrock projected the 49ers would select Alabama wide receiver Henry Ruggs at that pick, with Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy and Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb — two of the draft’s best options — coming off the board in the two prior picks.
Receiver isn’t the 49ers’ only position of need, but they might not be able to address it as well in a trade down as they would just by drafting the best available player at the position at No. 13. Coach Kyle Shanahan and general manager John Lynch will address this exact dilemma when the draft begins later this month, but it’s clear many of their fans already have a preferred solution.
With the NFL playoffs’ expansion, the number of teams that had previously received first-round byes has been cut in half. Instead of the top two seeds in each conference getting a bye week at the start of the postseason, now it’ll only be No. 1.
The 49ers were the No. 1 seed in the NFC last year on their way to an appearance in Super Bowl LIV, and thus still would have received a first-round bye under the new format. Moving forward, they — along with every other team in the league — will have a slightly stronger chance of qualifying for the postseason each year, but a significantly reduced likelihood of earning a first-round bye.
Given the extremely strong correlation between first-round byes and playoff success — and the fact that there will be two additional teams competing — one could argue that it’s even more crucial for San Francisco to earn the No. 1 seed in the NFC next season than it was in the last.
NBC Sports’ Peter King took a look at the most recent Super Bowl participants and winners in his “Football Morning in America” column Monday, which revealed an undeniable trend.
For the last seven seasons, every participant in the Super Bowl has had a first-round bye.
“The seeds of the last 14 teams to make Super Bowls,” King wrote, “starting with Seattle-Denver in SBXLVIII: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1.”
King, however, isn’t necessarily buying that a first-round bye is essential to winning the Super Bowl. To get a larger sample size, he compared the seeds of the last seven Super Bowl victors to the seven that preceded them.
“The seeds of the last seven Super Bowl winners: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2. The seeds of the previous seven Super Bowl winners: 3, 5, 2, 1, 6, 4, 4.”
While King insisted he doesn’t expect a No. 1 seed to continue winning the Super Bowl at a rate of five out of every seven years, he didn’t attempt any explanation as to why the contrast is so stark. Obviously, there are rule changes from season to season, but nothing that would explain such a difference. The playoff structure wasn’t altered over that span, either.
Until proven otherwise, though, one has to assume the status quo will be maintained.
If that’s the case, the 49ers will need to repeat as the NFC’s No. 1 seed — in a more crowded playoff field — if they hope to get back to the Super Bowl next year … and win.
At this point in the NFL draft process, sportsbooks often can be just as helpful as mock drafts to narrow down which players are going where.
The 49ers have two first-round picks in the upcoming draft, selecting at No. 13 and No. 31. Will they pick an offensive or defensive player at No. 13?
The consensus from sportsbooks is clear: Offense.
All three have the 49ers favored to take an offensive player over a defensive player with pick No. 13.
FoxBet has offensive player favored at -182 ($182 bet wins you $100) while defensive player is listed +140 ($100 bet wins you $140).
DraftKings has offensive player favored at -177 ($177 bet wins you $100) while defensive player is listed +145 ($100 bet wins you $145).
FanDuel has offensive player favored at -168 ($168 bet wins you $100) while defensive player is listed +132 ($100 bet wins you $132).
If you take a deeper dive and look at player draft position props, the expectation is that a wide receiver will be selected at No. 13, and it either will be Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy or Oklahoma’s CeeDee Lamb.
All three books have set Jeudy’s draft position at an OVER/UNDER of 12.5.
Essentially, if you are placing a bet on this prop and you take the UNDER, you win if Jeudy is selected with any pick 1-12. If you bet the OVER, you win your bet if Jeudy is selected 13th or later.
FoxBet and FanDuel had Lamb’s draft position at an OVER/UNDER of 12.5 as well, but DraftKings listed Lamb at an OVER/UNDER of 13.5.
Here are FanDuel’s odds for Jeudy and Lamb:
Picks 1-12: -152 ($152 bet wins you $100)
13th or later: +120 ($100 bet wins you $120)
Picks 1-12 : -126 ($126 bet wins you $100)
13th or later: -102 ($102 bet wins you $100)
Picks 1-12: -133 ($133 bet wins you $100)
13th or later: +100 ($100 bet wins you $100)
Picks 1-12: -120 ($120 bet wins $100)
13th or later: -105 ($105 bet wins $100)
Picks 1-12: -134 ($134 bet wins $100)
13th or later: +110 ($100 bet wins $110)
Picks 1-13: -150 ($150 bet wins you $100)
14th or later: +123 ($100 bet wins you $123)
If you’re feeling confident in either Jeudy or Lamb going to the Niners, there’s value betting on one of them.
Henry Ruggs III also has been talked about as a potential fit for the Niners, but each book had his OVER/UNDER for draft position listed at 14.5.
The oddsmakers often aren’t wrong, and these props make it seem likely that either Jeudy or Lamb will be starting their rookie season in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Santa Clara.