Heading into the 2020 NFL Draft, what does Lynch's history with 49ers tell us?


As we approach the 2020 NFL Draft, we're all wondering how general manager John Lynch is going to approach it. The assumption is he'll look to trade out of No. 13 or 31, or even slide back from both picks. He has a reputation as a GM who is extremely active, but is that warranted? Is that consistently who he's been over all three of his drafts, or was his first draft impression so strong that his reputation was immediately cemented as such?


Let's take a look at his draft history to see if we have a fair perception of who he is as a GM, and if he's predictable.


At first glance, his reputation is warranted. In 2017, six of his 10 draft picks involved some sort of trade. In 2018, it was six of nine picks. In 2019, it was four of eight picks. Since 2017, 59% of the players drafted under Lynch have his trade fingerprints on it. However, each year has definite differences in style, volume, and timing. Below are all the moves in each draft, or leading up to it.


2017 NFL Draft


  • Back from #2. For #3 (Thomas), #67 (traded away), #111 (traded away), and a '18 3rd (Warner).

  • Up to #31 (Foster). For #34 and #111.

  • Back from #67. For a '18 2nd round pick (traded away).

  • Up to #104 (Beathard) For #109 and #219.

  • Traded away an '18 4th. For #177 (T. Taylor) and Kapri Bibbs.


2018 NFL Draft

  • In August of '17, he traded away Vance McDonald and a 5th. For a 2018 5th round pick (Street).

  • In March of '18, he traded away Daniel Kilgore. Swapped 2018 7ths (J. Taylor).

  • After Day 1, he traded Trent Brown and #143. For #95 (Moore).

  • Up to #44 (Pettis). For #59 and #74. Also received pick #142 (Reed).


2019 NFL Draft

  • Back from #104. For #110 (Wishnowsky), #183 (Skule), and #198 (T. Harris).

  • Traded away Dekoda Watson and #212. For #148 (Greenlaw).


The 2017 draft was by far his most active; his volume was off the charts. He traded both back & up, and traded away picks he had just acquired. He made one heck of a first impression, and it stuck.


[LIPINSKI: The case for the 49ers to stay at No. 13, and trade back from No. 31 in 2020 NFL Draft]


In the 2018 draft, he only traded within the draft once, by moving up for Dante Pettis and #142 (Reed). Brown was traded after Day 1 for a 2018 pick (#95), which became Tarvarius Moore. McDonald and Kilgore were both traded well before the 2018 Draft, and those trades became Kentavius Street and Trent Taylor.


In 2019, he made two small (but shrewd) trades, which both paid major dividends for the 2020 season. He moved six spots back in the fourth round (for #110, #183, and #198), which became Mitch Wishnowsky, Justin Skule, and Tim Harris. He then traded Watson and #212, for #148, which became Dre Greenlaw.


[ANAVARATHAN: Why Dante Pettis could be the reason Kyle Shanahan passes on Jerry Jeudy]


So after looking at Lynch's past, does his history give any insight into his 2020 draft plan?


It tells me one thing, and one thing only: Lynch is completely unpredictable. In every draft, Lynch has changed his style, direction, and volume. There's no way to predict what he does. That's the exact image you want other GMs to have of you. He's willing to trade up or down, willing to trade away players, acquire players, for current picks or future picks — so give him a call if you want to deal.


I've already made a case as to why I believe Lynch stays at No. 13, and trades back from 31, so I do believe he'll be active in this draft, especially leading up to the draft. There's been talk of trades, and there are several players who are assumed to be on the trading block (Brieda, Pettis, Thomas, and Beathard). Quarterback Nick Mullens has also been inquired about, but the offers haven't met Lynch's price (so far), but I think he'd like to hang onto him for a while. A surprise player trade wouldn't shock me.


What I'm really interested to find out is whether by trading players or current 2020 picks, does Lynch want all 2020 picks in return, or does he also want 2021 picks? After acquiring Dee Ford and Emmanuel Sanders, he felt the price paid to get them, but he also saw positive results from those trades. Getting his hands on additional 2021 picks, to make it easier to fill needs via trade during the 2020 season, without exhausting his future draft capital again, has to be on his mind.


So will Lynch be extremely active like he was in 2017? Will he make fewer moves as he did in 2018 and 2019? Will he acquire picks for the present, or for the future? Fans assume he'll be wheeling and dealing picks, but the last time he did so, he had a barren roster to overhaul. The only perception of Lynch that matters is the one he has within GM circles. If it's what I think it is after reviewing his drafts, it's a reputation he should be thrilled with...completely unpredictable.


Media courtesy NFL Network

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With a desire to educate and spark conversation, Fourth and Nine offers informed opinions, detailed player analysis, discussion around team-building strategies, and comprehensive year-round draft coverage, all with a unique tie to the San Francisco 49ers. It is the only site of its kind bringing this package of team-specific analysis.

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