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After Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season-ending knee injury in Week 3, and the 49ers spiraled to another losing season in 2018, Nick Bosa became the primary talking point, the silver lining, among the 49ers fanbase. If the 49ers picked No. 1 overall, it was believed they would select Bosa, widely considered the draft’s top prospect throughout the past year. Then, the 49ers beat the Seattle Seahawks in Week 15, withdrawing them from the No. 1 overall pick and potentially Bosa.
Oh, how much has changed since then.
From the sound of things, Bosa could be available after the top two picks.
The Arizona Cardinals, with offensive-minded head coach Kliff Kingsbury running the show, are expected to select Kyler Murray at No. 1 overall. They would ideally trade Josh Rosen, last year’s first-round pick. The 49ers would then hand-pick their top prospect at No. 2 overall.
It’s starting to sound like their view of that player is different than the public’s.
The 49ers are reportedly “gushing” over Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams, according to Walter Football’s Charlie Campbell. Campbell communicated those thoughts when he joined KNBR’s Gary and Larry earlier this week.
Here is his soundbite:
- “I spoke with people high up with the 49ers at the Combine, and they were just gushing about Quinnen WIlliams. They felt Bosa was an excellent player, a bit of safe pick, probably more of a position of need heading into free agency given how good DeForest Buckner was for the team last year. But they just had more emotion in the voice, more excitement for Quinnen Williams. They felt his upside was just off the charts when you consider last year was really his first season of playing time in the SEC, to dominate it in the fashion he did, and really moving inside, adding the weight to move inside, they felt the sky is the limit for what this guy could be. They just seem to think that Williams was more special as a player, had more upside, and really they like the makeup of him as well. And they didn’t dog Bosa at all. They were just really impressed with Williams, in terms of his character, his football character. And so, I heard that there from people high up with the 49ers. And speaking with some people at other teams, I have heard that some of the scouts in their conversations, they have also heard from 49ers people they are really high on Williams and really think the world of him. That’s the player that’s kind of tugging at the heartstrings.”
Campbell, who has earned a sterling reputation for his accuracy in mock drafts, said the 49ers hiring defensive line coach Kris Kocurek deems Bosa as somewhat of a misfit. Kocurek’s wide-nine principles spread out the defensive line and allow speed rushers to use space to reach the quarterback. Earlier this month, the 49ers traded a 2020 second-round pick for Dee Ford, who perfectly fits Kocurek’s system.
Campbell pointed out that Bosa has similar physical attributes to Solomon Thomas, San Francisco’s top pick in the 2017 draft. Many would argue the 49ers already have enough interior pieces — including DeForest Buckner, Arik Armstead, and Thomas, all first-round picks — to warrant drafting Williams.
Campbell said if the 49ers draft Williams, they would hope he and Buckner would form an interior combination similar to Los Angeles’ Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh.
“(I) get the sense that taking with team guys, it’s closer than the consensus in the media realizes,” Campbell said regarding the Williams-Bosa speculation. “I know a lot of scouts felt Quinnen, there is more specialness to him, more rare skills in terms of what you are getting with him in for size, speed, upside, being what he does on the inside. It’s harder to find defensive tackles that can do what he does than it is edge rushers in a given draft.”
Well, then. Looks like there will be more uncertainty surrounding the No. 2 pick than most expected.
There are several ways this could play out. The 49ers could take Bosa or Williams at No. 2. They will almost certainly receive calls from quarterback-needy teams trying to trade up. If the 49ers trade down, Campbell said Kentucky’s Josh Allen, the NCAA’s top defensive player in 2018, would be a desirable pickup, though it’s unlikely he falls out of the top five.
But for now, assuming the 49ers keep their No. 2 overall pick, Campbell believes Williams will be the choice.
“I think if the draft were today, that’s the direction they would go,” Campbell said.
Listen to Campbell’s interview below.