San Francisco 49ers

'Film is our best friend right now': 49ers' brass stays home as draft approaches

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, right, watch Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas during NFL football pro day Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Stanford, Calif.
San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan, left, and Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, right, watch Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas during NFL football pro day Thursday, March 23, 2017, in Stanford, Calif. AP

When Stanford and Notre Dame held their pro-day sessions on the same March day last year, the 49ers fanned out.

A large contingent led by general manager John Lynch, personnel department executives Adam Peters and Martin Mayhew, and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello went to South Bend, Ind., where Lynch took Fighting Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer to dinner. An even larger group, including head coach Kyle Shanahan and defensive-line coach Jeff Zgonina, drove 15 miles north from team headquarters to Stanford to watch Solomon Thomas work out.

This year the two schools again landed on the same date, but the 49ers mostly stayed home.

Lynch and Peters were at Stanford. The 49ers were represented in Notre Dame, too, but it was a far more modest and anonymous group than the one on hand a year ago.

"As this draft approaches, you just want good office time," Lynch said after the Stanford session.

The differing approaches illustrate how much the 49ers' situation has changed in a year.

Heading into the 2017 draft, San Francisco had the No. 2 overall pick and was keeping its options open. The same crew that checked out Kizer at Notre Dame also watched North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky and Clemson's DeShaun Watson throw on the East Coast. Were the 49ers ready to pounce on a young quarterback in the first round? As it turned out, no, but because they wanted to trade their pick, it behooved them that other teams thought they might.

This year, the team not only has a franchise thrower, Jimmy Garoppolo, under wraps, it doesn't have a top-five pick to trade to another team eager for one of the best college quarterbacks.

The 49ers' travel budget instead is being used to send top coaches for workouts. As reported earlier this week, Zgonina worked out Florida State pass rusher Josh Sweat and likely will do the same with other prospects. Offensive-line coach John Benton looked at UCLA's Kolton Miller and Scott Quessenberry. Of the 49ers' top evaluators, Peters is the most likely to attend these sessions along with a position coach.

Those type of workouts must be conducted at or near the player's school. In addition, teams are allowed to invite up to 30 draft prospects to team headquarters for a visit that does not include a workout. The 49ers currently are scheduling those sessions.

Finally, the team can hold a so-called "local" pro day that includes players who are either from the Bay Area or played collegiately here. Eligible prospects include Humboldt State offensive lineman Alex Cappa (Dublin), Cal defensive end James Looney, Stanford cornerback Quenton Meeks and San Jose State linebacker Frank Ginda.

The 49ers' most senior decision makers mostly will stay home.

"Last year, we got out and saw the quarterbacks," Lynch said. "But I think film is our best friend right now. We've got enough people out and about some private workouts and stuff."

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