The 2017 NFL Draft will go down as one of the biggest what-ifs for a number of fan bases, including the 49ers.
The 49ers entered the draft with the No. 2 overall pick and traded down one spot to No. 3 so the Chicago Bears could jump up and select quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. The 49ers, who at the time still were looking for a franchise quarterback, could have drafted Patrick Mahomes or Deshaun Watson. Instead, they drafted defensive end Solomon Thomas. Mahomes fell all the way to No. 10, where the Kansas City Chiefs gobbled him up and the rest is history.
Mahomes signed a 10-year contract extension Monday worth $503 million, keeping the 2018 NFL MVP in Kansas City until 2031. Thomas gave a shoutout to Mahomes on Twitter after the star quarterback's deal was announced.
— Solomon Thomas (@SollyThomas90) July 7, 2020
While Mahomes has become the face of the NFL, Thomas has struggled as a member of the 49ers. In three seasons, Thomas has recorded just six sacks and 16 tackles for loss. The 49ers declined to pick up his fifth-year option earlier this offseason.
There still is time for Thomas to reach his potential and become a productive NFL defensive lineman, but it's clear that passing on Mahomes was a mistake the 49ers won't soon live down. Blowing a 10-point lead to Mahomes and the Chiefs with six minutes left in Super Bowl LIV was a painful reminder of what could have been.
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With Mahomes and the Chiefs not going anywhere, the 49ers know there is a high probability that their quest for Super Bowl redemption will go through Mahomes, who is looking to create a dynasty in Kansas City.
The 49ers showed in last year's Super Bowl that they have the defensive talent to slow Mahomes down. Unfortunately, he only can be held down for so long.
In order to compete with Mahomes and the Chiefs, the 49ers need quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to take a leap in 2020. Having a defense that can slow Mahomes down is important, but eventually, you need your quarterback needs to be able to answer the Chiefs' haymakers with some big plays of his own. Otherwise, the avalanche occurs and the game can get out of hand in a heartbeat.
Mahomes cemented himself as the best player in the NFL with his Super Bowl heroics against the 49ers. Now, he'll look to live up to the largest contract in professional sports history. There's no reason to believe he won't.
49ers' Solomon Thomas shouts out Patrick Mahomes after huge contract originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area