<
>

49ers set for big week evaluating top quarterback prospects

The 49ers are scheduled to see Mitch Trubisky, left, at North Carolina's pro day Tuesday and DeShone Kizer, right, at Notre Dame's on Thursday. Icon Sportswire, Getty Images

SANTA CLARA, Calif. -- With the bulk of their work in free agency complete, San Francisco 49ers general manager John Lynch and coach Kyle Shanahan are now able to turn most of their focus toward the 2017 NFL draft.

Where free agency used to come in waves spaced out over a period of weeks, the early negotiating period has made it easier for agents to gauge their clients' market and move quickly to strike deals. So most of the heavy lifting when it comes to free agents is over in the blink of an eye.

That's good news for Lynch and Shanahan, who have been playing catch-up since they took their new posts in February. And though the Niners added veteran quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley in free agency, they also made it clear that their work toward bolstering the game's most important position is not finished.

Yes, those pesky Kirk Cousins rumors figure to linger until the Redskins QB's situation gains more clarity, but aside from that, the Niners will continue to do their diligence on all of this draft's top quarterbacks. It's a process that's been in motion for a while now, and it picked up steam at last month's scouting combine.

This week will be an important next step in those evaluations as the Niners are scheduled to get more face time with Clemson's Deshaun Watson, Notre Dame's DeShone Kizer and North Carolina's Mitch Trubisky. All three met with San Francisco at the scouting combine, but those speed-dating sessions don't allow for as much insight as campus visits, pro days and workouts.

Speaking to KNBR-AM 680 in San Francisco, Lynch laid out how the Niners have approached quarterbacks and the draft so far and what comes next.

“We met with all the kids we’re going to see at the combine,” Lynch said. “But now we get to go see them in action. A couple of them are pro days and we have one private workout."

The plan, according to Lynch, is for him, vice president of player personnel Adam Peters, senior personnel executive Martin Mayhew and quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello to hit the road to get a better look at the three quarterbacks many consider to be this draft's top prospects. Trubisky will take part in North Carolina's pro day Tuesday and Kizer is set to participate in his event Thursday at Notre Dame.

Watson had his pro day last week, but Lynch indicated that the 49ers and another team agreed to have a private workout with Watson on Wednesday at Clemson.

"We’re going to go see these guys, get to know them," Lynch said. "The film kind of speaks for itself. But there’s always great value to seeing someone in person, maybe you catch something you didn’t on film. I think the most important thing, like you said, is we’re having some dinners, those types of things. Just getting to know the young men, know what they’re all about. What drives them? You get to learn about their families and it’s all a part of the equation.”

In addition to pro days and on-campus workouts, the Niners and the rest of the league are also now open for business for their "top 30" prospect visits. Teams can invite 30 players from around the country to visit their facilities and get to know them better before the draft. The 49ers began that process last week with Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster coming to town. It's likely that the top quarterbacks will get similar invites.

The Niners, of course, have the No. 2 overall pick in this year's draft. The growing consensus among draft pundits is that no quarterback is worth that valuable piece of draft real estate, but the Niners are clearly determined to make that decision for themselves after putting in the legwork to get to know all of this draft's top prospects.