49ers general manager John Lynch believes free agency work formed for NFL draft
COLUMBUS, Ohio – During the NFL’s first wave of free agency, 49ers general manager John Lynch said he believes the club have prepared for next month’s draft.
“In terms of what we did, it gave us flexibility,” Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area Wednesday during Ohio State Pro Day. “We had some ideas of areas where we needed to improve. And what we did gave us the flexibility to just focus on coming out and getting the best player available, especially with that top spot, regardless of position.
The 49ers have the second overall pick in the draft. Lynch and vice president of player personnel Adam Peters have spent the last two days getting to know two of the top contenders for the 49ers first-round selection.
Lynch and Peters were in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on Tuesday and met Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. On Wednesday, Lynch and Peters left for a late lunch with former Ohio State defensive end Nick Bosa.
“He’s a big boy and a great player,” Lynch said of meeting Williams. “I liked that.”
Lynch first met Bosa in Pasadena when he attended an Ohio State practice before the Rose Bowl. Bosa retired from school in November to focus on his rehabilitation after abdominal muscle surgery. Bosa was working in Southern California and came to support his former teammates when he met Lynch. The 49ers also met Bosa last month at the NFL Scouting Combine.
“He’s a good boy,” Lynch said of Bosa. “We can’t wait to spend more time with him.
Lynch said the 49ers haven’t compiled their list of 30 official visits before the draft, but Williams and Bosa also appear to be good candidates to travel to Santa Clara before the draft.
Neither Williams nor Bosa worked their professional days, choosing to stick to the combine’s results. Kentucky outside linebacker Josh Allen, whose pro day is Friday, won’t work either. Lynch and Peters will not be attending Kentucky Professional Day.
“Most of the best guys don’t train, especially if they did well at the combine,” said Lynch. “But you have the option to come and sit with them and talk to them.
“I think it’s good to be away for a number of reasons. The schools that we’ve been to the last few days, Alabama and Ohio State, I don’t think they’re going anywhere. They’re going to produce players, so it’s good to continue fostering those relationships that we can help them and they can help us. And it’s really invaluable to spend time with these guys.
Lynch said the 49ers are still building their draft strategy with the No. 2 overall pick. Bosa, Williams and Allen are prohibitive favorites.
“We did a lot of work on these guys,” Lynch said. “We’ve done a lot of work on the whole draft class, but it’s getting really super focused now. We have condensed a lot of information. Now the coaches are coming in and we are putting everything together. “
Part of the puzzle of the team’s draft plan was the first week of the NFL free agent signing period. The 49ers signed starting linebacker Kwon Alexander and acquired starting defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Kansas City Chiefs.
The 49ers also added potential starters at the cornerback with Jason Verrett and safety with the re-signing of Jimmie Ward. The signing of wide receiver Jordan Matthews gives the 49ers the veteran presence needed to play important playing time.
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The 49ers have 75 players on contract and are $ 37.2 million below the NFL salary cap, according to NFLPA figures.
Lynch acknowledged that the 49ers are rolling the dice on Verrett, a 2014 first-round pick who has only played 25 games in five seasons with various injuries.
“We recruited him hard because there were a number of people who were interested, and we’re glad we recruited him,” Lynch said of Verrett. “You always think risk-reward. The potential payoff with this one is pretty special. There are good things done. We just have to see if we can help him and he can find a way to stay healthy. “