San Francisco 49ers executive John Lynch has only made one significant trade in his short tenure as an NFL general manager. So far, it looks like a good one.
Lynch traded the No. 2 pick in the 2017 NFL Draft to the Chicago Bears for a king’s ransom, sliding to the No. 3 slot and adding high third (No. 67 overall) and fourth (No. 111) round picks in this year’s draft along with a third-rounder in 2018. Unless UNC quarterback Mitchell Trubisky -- the player the Bears ultimately took with the pick they received — was Lynch’s top choice, the deal cost him nothing while netting three additional players who could be starters in 2018. For a depleted roster like San Francisco’s, that is a haul.
The 49ers took Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas at No. 3 — a player the majority of mock drafts had projected them selecting. While the move pauses the team’s quest for a quarterback, at least temporarily, until Friday when the franchise makes their second round pick, it also gives Lynch plenty of ammunition if the team wants to move back into the action Thursday night.
With extra -- and premier — third and fourth round picks, the 49ers have the capital to make moves with any team looking to drop out of the first. In the long run, keeping the picks may be a stronger strategy. A rash of retirements and departures left Lynch with an empty cupboard in Santa Clara, especially on defense. College standouts like Raekwon McMillan, Tim Williams, Adoree’ Jackson, and Malik McDowell could all still be available when the team steps up to make up to three selections on Friday.
There’s no guarantee this trade will work out for Lynch in the long run. Trubisky could turn out to be the passer the Bears have been searching for since Jim McMahon left town, and Lynch could botch his picks from here on out. For now, this looks like a resume-building win for Lynch, especially with a versatile, rock-solid lineman like Thomas in the fold.
That’s great news for the 49ers, but it might spoil Lynch. Not all his draft-day trades will be this easy.