For all the hits the John Lynch/Kyle Shanahan era of the San Francisco 49ers have provided us, this dynamic duo has also given us some head-scratching moments. While Shanahan continues to be clueless in fourth quarters and overtime periods in Super Bowls, Lynch will occasionally make a horrendous decision after another in talent evaluation. Wait until you get a load of this doozy...
ESPN's Adam Schefter recounted a series of blunders made by the 49ers that allowed "Mr. Irrelevant" Brock Purdy to start in Super Bowl 58. Back in 2017 when Lynch and Shanahan first took over, they did not study Patrick Mahomes' tape coming out of Texas Tech, even though the 49ers were quarterback deficient heading into the NFL Draft. They had the No. 2 pick and did not even study him!
While they made a smart decision to move back in a deal with Chicago, they still drafted Solomon Thomas over several other better players, including Mahomes, Christian McCaffrey and Deshaun Watson. The reason the 49ers decided to not even consider Mahomes was because the plan was all along to sign Kirk Cousins in NFL free agency to reunite him with his former Washington coordinator.
Well, as it turns out, Bill Belichick decided to make Jimmy Garoppolo available, so he was traded to the 49ers from the New England Patriots mid-season back in 2017. The 49ers did however draft a quarterback that year. It was former Iowa star C.J. Beathard, who was a third-round pick. He left for the Jacksonville Jaguars in free agency in 2022. The 49ers received a comp pick that became Purdy.
All of this to say that the 49ers may have just been better off trading back to draft Mahomes in 2017.
Purdy deserves all the credit in the world for his success, but what are the 49ers even doing, man?
San Francisco 49ers keep paying for their sins from yesterday at QB
Should we blame the 49ers for passing on Mahomes too much? I mean, not really. Mahomes was not this player when he was coming out of Texas Tech for a reason. He played in a gimmicky Air Raid offense on a Red Raiders team that could not play a lick of defense. This resulted in Mahomes' college team often losing high-scoring shootouts, as well as not going to a bowl game as a junior.
The smarter pick, at the time, would have been to draft Watson, as he was a proven ACC star over at Clemson. We had no idea what was to come out in the future, but he should have been the first quarterback taken that year and not Mitch Trubisky by the Chicago Bears. So no, I don't think we can blame the 49ers a ton for missing out on Mahomes, despite Thomas never living up to expectations.
Where I think we can crush the 49ers is they don't seem to often think things through when constructing a roster. I mean, isn't the whole reason the 49ers drafted Thomas was because he was a Stanford alum and worked on a group project with Lynch in Palo Alto? Regardless of how that pick turned out, the 49ers seem to constantly be pivoting off one plan to another and none of them work.
Beathard was a decent player coming out, but he wasn't much of a prospect. Like Shanahan, he had a famous last name that got him to places other couldn't get to. While using a 2022 compensatory pick on Purdy looks fantastic in hindsight, Shanahan infamously liked Five Guys Around 3 in 2021 and took the worst quarterback prospect that went in the first round in Trey Lance out of North Dakota State.
I wouldn't have drafted him No. 3 overall, let alone trade up to get him, but I understand how some people were infatuated about him as a draft prospect. What I still struggle to understand is the 49ers thinking they were too good for a starting quarterback upgrade in 2017. Who was their starter then? Brian Hoyer? Exactly! And to think Kirk Cousins was going to waltz over in free agency is laughable.
After not knowing the new rules of Super Bowl overtime, as well as completely mailing it in on Mahomes' evaluation coming out, the 49ers have reaped what they have sewn. You cannot skip steps. For every shortcut you take and for every perceived break you get, there will be another obstacle waiting for you. Fortune favors the bold, but it also favors the prepared. What are the 49ers?
Their inability to stick to a plan and see it through led them to being a Super Bowl disappointment.