The 2016 season doesn’t look promising for the San Francisco 49ers. I hate to say that but its true. Their schedule is brutal and their talent wears thin. There is a reason the team held a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, and it wasn’t because 49ers CEO Jed York was in cahoots with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
On the surface the schedule appears to be unforgiving. A team that won only one road game a year ago, I don’t expect things to change anytime soon. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team went 2-5 heading into their bye, week 8.
I’m not saying this will actually happen, but rather painting a picture of what may come. To think the 49ers will make the playoffs is highly optimistic. This isn’t the same veteran locker room that 49ers HC Jim Harbaugh inherited back in 2011 nor the same level of talent.
But this may be a blessing in disguise.
If you remember, I wrote an earlier article on why 49ers GM Trent Baalke passed up on taking a linebacker in this year’s draft. My point. It was a weak linebacker class and Baalke is not one to reach for need.
However, I can’t say the same of the 2017 draft class, as the linebacker position is filled with NFL caliber talent. The cream of the crop? I believe that player to be Texas A&M OLB Myles Garrett.
Should the 49ers hold a top ten pick in next year’s draft, this will be their guy. The 49ers need an All-Pro pass-rusher and Garrett checks all of Baalke’s boxes. From a physical standpoint he has the prototype size that scouts covet. At 6-5, 262, Garrett has the length, toughness, and smarts to wreak havoc in the backfield.
But don’t take my word for it as the numbers don’t lie.
As a true freshman, Garrett shattered DE Jadeveon Clowney’s SEC rookie sack record by recording 11.5 sacks. Proving he’s no one-year wonder, Garrett would confirm his rookie season by following that up with a team-high 57 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss and 12.0 sacks. Cementing himself as the nation’s premier pass-rusher, in only his sophomore season, Garrett recently announced he would return in 2016 for his junior year.
An athlete possessing high production, rare arm-length and the ability to convert speed to power, I can’t help but think Garrett is high on the 49ers radar.
The best part, he’s only 20-years old.
The ceiling is high and Baalke loves that. When he drafted then 20-year old OLB Aldon Smith, he knew there was some risk involved.
“I just understand when we make the decision like this, as we all did in the room, that there is a learning curve. And we’re willing to go through it with him because of the talent that he has,” Baalke said.
Fast forward to today and you can see the vast similarities in the two players. In two seasons at Missouri, Smith recorded 17 sacks while also playing in the then-SEC. Compare that number to Garrett’s 23.5 sacks and counting, and you can see where Garrett’s value lies.
My 2017 NFL Draft crush will solve all the #49ers pass-rushing problems. Texas A&M OLB Myles Garrett. He’s Aldon Smith w/out the headache.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) May 6, 2016
Aside from his physical body-type, Baalke has to love Garrett’s intangibles from a H-W-S standpoint. At 6-5, 262, I wouldn’t be surprised if Garrett runs a sub 4.70 40-yard dash. He fires out of the blocks with an explosive first-step that rivals any pass-rusher in the NFL including Smith. Simply put, Garrett’s a freak.
But that’s where the similarities stop, as there are no off-field issues with the SEC sack-artist.
Garrett doesn’t drink or smoke, but rather spends his free time drawing, reading, and watching movies, according to Adam Rittenberg of ESPN.
“Drinking, smoking, going out — unnecessary to me,” Garrett said. “You have to know what you’re doing to help people and have an important stance in life. You can only do that by staying focused, and I can’t lose focus for a second. It’s just like in football, it’s a game of angles and seconds. As soon as you lose depth or that amount of time, you can lose that play, you can lose that game.”
So why would the 49ers draft Garrett rather than address the need via free-agency? Because the price of doing business in the draft is far cheaper than buying a stock at it’s high. Not to mention, there are no elite pass-rushers outside of Denver Broncos OLB Von Miller who are scheduled to become unrestricted free-agents at season’s end — the cheaper, younger, alternative seems like the more logical choice.
The last time the 49ers were heavily linked to a Texas A&M player was back in 2014. That year all eyes were on WR Mike Evans as both Director of College Scouting Matt Malaspina and regional scout Bob Morris were on hand for his pro day.
— Ryan Sakamoto (@SakamotoRyan) May 6, 2016
The 49ers clearly have a need for an edge-rusher. They haven’t had a double-digit sack artist since OLB Aldon Smith back in 2012. That year he recorded a team-high 19.5 sacks.
In what Baalke would label a ‘perfect storm’ where needs meets BPA (Best Player Available), don’t be surprised if Garrett comes to San Francisco this time around, as his All-Pro talent both on and off the field prove too good to pass up.