How the 49ers should use their draft picks
The 49ers have four picks in the first three rounds of the upcoming draft: The 31st, the 61st, the 74th and the 93rd pick.
How would you like the 49ers to use those picks?
Should they package them or some of them in a trade for an elite player, like Jets’ cornerback Darrelle Revis?
Or should they package the picks to trade up in the draft? Or should they stand pat?
If they don’t trade the picks, I think they should use their first rounder on a defensive tackle. Justin Smith and Ray McDonald both played more than 1,000 snaps this season. The 49ers need a third defensive tackle who can give Smith and McDonald a breather.
Also, Justin Smith will be 34 years old next season, and he’ll be coming off triceps surgery. He’s probably past his prime. The 49ers need to find an heir apparent for him.
With the next three picks, the 49ers should consider drafting three defensive backs. They only have one good one right now – Tarell Brown. If the 49ers re-sign Dashon Goldson, they’ll have two.
Donte Whiter is too short to be an elite safety in this era. He’s a liability in pass coverage, especially in the end zone. He’s six-to-nine inches shorter than the tight end he’s covering most of the time.
The only 49er who may have played worse in the Super Bowl than Whitner was cornerback Chris Culliver. The 49ers need to draft two DBs to compete with Whitner and Culliver.
Also, Carlos Rogers seems to be declining. The 49ers were vulnerable all season to quick slot receivers, and Rogers isn’t getting any quicker. The 49ers may need to draft his replacement, too.
There are two more positions the 49ers must consider drafting with their first-four picks – tight end and wide receiver.
Delanie Walker is a free agent, and he may sign somewhere else. But I’m guessing he’ll re-sign with the 49ers for a relatively cheap contract. His 23-percent drop rate this season may turn off other teams. The 49ers clearly love him – Greg Roman keeps calling passes for him no matter how many he drops. He plays a key role in the 49ers’ offense – H-back, the tight end who lines up all over the formation and does more lead blocking than in-line blocking. I’m guessing the 49ers re-sign Walker and do not draft a tight end.
That brings us to wide receiver. The 49ers are in a tough spot here. Randy Moss is probably done. Mario Manningham was a good No.2 receiver, but he tore his ACL and PCL in December. He may not be ready to play early this season, and he may never be the same player again. Tearing two knee ligaments can rob a player of his explosiveness forever.
The 49ers owe Manningham $4 million next season. They may cut him if his recovery takes too long.
Kyle Williams only tore one knee ligament – his ACL – so he should be ready for training camp. But he’s not a No.2 receiver – he’s a No.3.
And then there’s A.J. Jenkins. He would be the obvious guy to take Manningham’s spot as the No.2 receiver, but he could not climb the wide receiver depth chart all season. He was behind Ted Ginn Jr. Jenkins would have to do a lot of improving between now and training camp to win that No.2 job.
The 49ers may want to draft a receiver. There are lots of intriguing wide receiver prospects the 49ers could draft in the second, third or fourth round – Markus Wheaton, Robert Woods, Tavon Austin, Quinton Patton, Aaron Dobson, Cobi Hamilton and Steadman Bailey, to name a few.
With the later picks, the 49ers need to draft a kicker to replace David Akers. They also may want to draft another quarterback if they trade Alex Smith.
How would you use the 49ers draft picks if you were Trent Baalke?