The San Francisco 49ers have been an absolute mess this year, but there's always a glimmer of home in the NFL Draft that franchise fortunes could turn on the strength of a single first-round pick. These next three guys could mean the difference between another year of bottom-feeding in 2016 and actual, legit progress for the 49ers as a whole.
QB Paxton Lynch -- Memphis Tigers
Ready for a theme? Lynch is our first pick of the top three projected quarterbacks in the 2016 NFL Draft, and he's the right fit at the right time for a Browns team trending towards the #1 overall pick. Lynch is a better natural athlete than the two other options listed below, and by all accounts he's a fantastic character guy in the locker room. The Colin Kaepernick era/experiment just feels like it's running its course, and Blaine Gabbert isn't the long-term answer no matter how electric he was in this past week's OT win over the Bears. Lynch's a legit franchise QB, and if he's there when San Francisco picks they'd be hard-pressed not to draft him.
QB Jared Goff -- Cal Golden Bears
Goff isn't a threat to run like Johnny Manziel, but that doesn't mean he can't create on the run. Goff is an expert at delivering accurate passes after extending plays horizontally. He's accustomed to the spread offense, so he'll have some adjusting to do. But, he's got a fantastic mental makeup and keeps a calm head in all different types of pressure situations. Some scouts are calling it a toss-up between Lynch and Goff, and the Cal product's Bay Area ties lend a certain comfortablity factor. Why not keep the Bay Area mojo going and build him into a 4000-yard passer at the next level?
QB Connor Cook -- Michigan State Spartans
Cook's got some work to do on his mechanics and his footwork under duress, but he's got all the mental tools to be a franchise quarterback. He's got a fantastic eye for the entire field, scanning his progressions quickly and efficiently more often than not. His natural arm strength and second sense for receivers breaking off routes will serve him well in the NFL, and serve the 49ers well if they draft him. Plus, he's a proven winner. No matter what "deficiencies" he has, he's simply smart enough and hard working enough to motor on through them.Back to the San Francisco 49ers Newsfeed