How 49ers' Robert Beal Jr. draft pick was influenced by Georgia coach

How Georgia coach sold Lynch on fifth-round draft pick Beal originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SANTA CLARA -- It’s good to have friends, and 49ers general manager John Lynch is very thankful Georgia coach Kirby Smart is one of them.

Smart was very open with Lynch and the 49ers' scouting department throughout the pre-draft process, which led to the team selecting defensive end Robert Beal Jr. with the No. 173 overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft on Saturday.

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The 6-foot-3, 247-pound lineman might not have had the type of dominant production as a Bulldog that turns heads, but Smart shared information that showed the edge rusher could be of great value to the 49ers.

“Beal’s a really, really gifted athlete,” Lynch said Saturday. “You rely a lot on relationships in this thing, and Kirby Smart’s been good to us. He’s got a lot of players. Kirby said someone’s going to get a really gifted and talented player if they just let this guy go hunt QBs and set edges, and when he said that, that’s exactly what we do.”

While at Georgia, Beal was asked to drop into coverage, moving backwards at times as opposed to simply rushing the quarterback. The 23-year-old’s 9.5 sacks over the past two seasons partially were a result of the Georgia defensive line' depth and how he was used on the field.

The 49ers plan on taking advantage of the Georgia product’s 4.47 40-yard dash speed and 34-plus-inch arms to dominate the line of scrimmage.


Beal also scores at the top of the charts in one of the 49ers' unique measurables -- “GTFO.” Defensive line Kris Kocurek’s “colorful” bellowing is heard regularly from across the practice fields, and the 49ers' research and development manager Matt Ploenzke came up with a way to measure what the coach is looking for.

“GTFO is something Kris Kocurek is always screaming,” Lynch explained. “Do you guys know what it is? Yeah, so [Beal] had the highest GTFO grade in the draft. So, we’re really fired up about that.

“It’s within the first two yards is what we’re measuring, and they’ve come up with a way to measure that and Beal’s right at the top of it, so that’s something. We’re always talking about getting length and explosion out of that stance, and Beal’s a guy that kind of embodies that.”

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The 49ers look to get Beal involved on specials teams as well, using his speed to get down the field quickly. But if the young edge rusher can prove he simply can be a solid rotational player in his rookie season by putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks, he could be another fifth-round steal for San Francisco.

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