San Francisco 49ers

How 49ers GM John Lynch has altered his draft strategy

I’m a big fan of coach Kyle Shanahan’s offense in San Francisco with the 49ers. It leans on the run game to set up the rest of the playbook, adding misdirection along the way, and it can be a burden for opposing defenses.

It’s the same offense (or very similar) Shanahan’s father, Mike Shanahan, used to great success in Denver with the Broncos, winning two Super Bowls in the late ’90s. And the 49ers’ division rivals, the Rams, use the same concepts, as Rams coach Sean McVay learned under the elder Shanahan, too.

To fully succeed, the offense needs players that thrive on physicality, at least according to 49ers general manager John Lynch, and I agree. He said that “At some point, you got to impose your will on people,” according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

Also according to the Chronicle, Lynch said he made some poor draft picks on finesse players early in his Bay Area tenure, cementing his philosophy of drafting “thick, strong, and tough” players.

The blinking-in-lights example: speedy, spindly wide receiver Dante Pettis (6-foot-1, 186 pounds). After botching that second-round pick in 2018, the next four wideouts the 49ers drafted were Samuel (6-foot, 215), Jalen Hurd (6-5, 229), Brandon Aiyuk (6-0, 200) and Jauan Jennings (6-3, 212).

“Some of our early picks that didn’t pan out, you say ‘Why?’” Lynch said. “And then probably a rebound effect: ‘OK, we’re going to go get thick, strong and tough (players).’ And you start seeing it.”

Eric Branch/San Francisco Chronicle

The Chronicle’s Eric Branch went on to say that the 49ers’ roster, now stocked with jumbo players, could help second-year quarterback Trey Lance settle in with the help of the run game. Plus, San Francisco’s offensive line is a potential weak spot, but, as most know, it’s far easier for most linemen to run block than pass block.

And once the run game is established, it’s easier to pass block, especially with misdirection and play-action, which Shanahan’s offense thrives off of. Now, as Lynch has added larger, more powerful players to the roster over the years, it’s time for San Francisco to build on its success last season and make it to the Super Bowl again.

Of course, a lot depends on Lance. But he’s got a bunch of strong and tough players around him to help, just as Lynch and Shanahan drew it up.

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