Spring has arrived, which means the 49ers and their top decision makers are now scouring the country to get to know the prospects in next month’s NFL Draft.
General Manager John Lynch and Vice President of Player Personnel Adam Peters this week met with two of the top candidates for the club’s No. 2-overall pick April 25, defensive linemen Quinnen Williams of Alabama and Nick Bosa of Ohio State.
The 49ers met with Williams following his program’s pro day on Tuesday, according to multiple reports, as they did with Bosa on Wednesday. Neither player worked out with their college teammates, instead opting to stand on their impressive workouts from the scouting combine earlier last month.
“I just trust the people who advise me and they told me it was unimportant,” said Bosa, according to NFL Media. “So I’m here to meet with all of the teams that want to meet with me, and that’s what is really important.”
Both Bosa and Williams are expected to be top-five selections and could be available for San Francisco if the Arizona Cardinals take Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray with the top-overall pick, a notion that gained steam at the combine. The Cardinals had a private meeting with Murray on Tuesday, according to a Houston Chronicle report.
The 49ers at the start of the new league year last week made significant investments in their defensive front, adding defensive end Dee Ford in a trade with the Chiefs and signing linebacker Kwon Alexander to replace Reuben Foster, who was released in November.
Neither move would preclude the 49ers from investing in the defensive front seven again by drafting Williams or Bosa.
“We’re evaluating everyone,” Lynch said last week while introducing Ford and Alexander. “Having Dee just makes us a better football team, and the draft’s something separate. Yes, those two do interact at some point, but we’ll see. We’re going to go out there and look. At number two you want to have a great football player. That’s what we’re looking for and we’ll see where it ends up.”
Bosa would seemingly be a better fit than Williams given the current state of the roster. Williams is widely considered a “three technique” defensive tackle, which is the same position occupied by San Francisco’s best defender, DeForest Buckner. Bosa is a defensive end who could play on the opposite side from Ford, giving the 49ers a potentially strong threesome of pass rushers with Buckner in the middle.
San Francisco on Friday released defensive end Cassius Marsh but still has 2017 third overall pick Solomon Thomas, Arik Armstead, Ronald Blair, Dekoda Watson and Pita Taumoepenu as options for defensive end.
Lynch has finished attending pro days for the week, which means he will pass on Kentucky’s pro day on Friday. Josh Allen, an athletic outside linebacker who led the Wildcats with 17.0 sacks last season, is also a candidate for San Francisco’s No. 2 pick.
But Bosa and Williams both have question marks. Bosa missed the final 11 games of the 2018 season with Ohio State after suffering a core muscle injury during the second half of a victory over TCU in September. He elected to have surgery and prepare for the draft rather than rejoin his team for the stretch run of the season.
Bosa finished his college career with 17.5 sacks and 29 tackles for loss in 29 games. He was named in 2017 the Big Ten defensive lineman of the year and first-team All-American by the American Football Coaches association. He left school following his true junior season.
Williams was a full-time starter for just one season but he made it count. He was a 2018 consensus All-American as a red-shirt sophomore, anchoring the middle of Alabama’s imposing defense en route to the college football national title game played at Levi’s Stadium. He won the Outland Trophy in 2018 given to the nation’s top interior defensive lineman. Williams finished his college career with 10 sacks, 56 tackles (26 for loss) in 24 games.