It turns out the San Francisco 49ers didn’t have to go far to find their first-round draft pick.
They selected the player many had earmarked for them, Stanford defensive lineman Solomon Thomas, the second consecutive Cardinal player they have taken in the first round. Last year they chose guard Joshua Garnett with their second of two first-round picks.
Before selecting Thomas, the 49ers traded down one spot with the Chicago Bears, who took quarterback Mitch Trubisky with the No. 2 selection. The 49ers received a third-round pick (No. 67), a fourth-round pick (No. 111) and a third-round pick in 2018 as well as the No. 3 pick this year. That means new general manager John Lynch likely took the player he would have selected at pick No. 2 and added three more picks in the process.
How well does new 49ers general manager John Lynch know Thomas? The two were in the same Management Science and Engineering class during Thomas’ freshman year. In fact, Lynch and Thomas worked together on a project, according to The MMQB.
Thomas will be expected to be an immediate impact player who will help bolster the 49ers pass-rush. San Francisco’s defense ranked tied for 19th in 2016 with 33 sacks.
“I’m so excited,” Thomas said in a press conference shortly after being drafted. “I’m so blessed to be on such an amazing organization and be a 49er. I can’t wait to get back to the Bay Area. I’m so happy.”
San Francisco has now used first round picks on defensive linemen in three consecutive drafts. Arik Armstead was the 17th overall pick in 2015 and DeForest Buckner was the seventh overall pick in 2018. Those two, along with Thomas, figure to be focal points in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defensive scheme.
“I watched Arik Armstead and DeForest Buckner in college. So, I tried to see them a little bit more, and they’re great young players on the rise. It’s going to be an honor to learn from them.”
Of note, Thomas’ draft stock began to skyrocket following a dominant performance in the Sun Bowl where he tormented Trubisky all four quarters. The pair of top-five selections will see each other again in Week 13 when the 49ers travel to Soldier Field to play the Bears.
“He’s an extraordinary young man,” said Stanford head coach David Shaw on NFL Network’s broadcast. “I’m looking forward to seeing what he does at the next level.”