Final look at the 49ers’ draft possibilities

The 49ers have nine scheduled picks in the draft. GM Scot McCloughan promised the team will not trade up from No. 10, but they might trade back to acquire more picks. But, then, the 49ers might also trade up later in the draft.

 

Anyway, let’s just assume they will have nine picks. The 49ers are not loaded at any position. Every position group can use some help this weekend:

 

QB: The top two QBs will be gone, but perhaps some team will want to jump up to No. 10 to get Josh Freeman. The 49ers won’t take him at No. 10. The team should get a QB, but they can wait until the mid-rounds. Nate Davis (Ball State) came in for a visit. They did all their homework on Stephen McGee (Texas A&M). Down the road, Tom Brandstater (Fresno State) has NFL size and an NFL arm and might be worth investing a couple years to develop.

 

RB: It would be a surprise if the 49ers took a runner with the No. 10 pick because this is one of those positions that will yield good talent, probably, into the fifth round. But, let’s just say the 49ers were to think about a runner. They would go with Knowshon Moreno over Chris “Beanie” Wells. More realistically, the team will address this area later. Both Mike Singletary and McCloughan told me at the combine that they’d like to get a bigger back to complement Frank Gore. Shonn Greene (Iowa), Andre Brown (North Carolina State) and Rashad Jennings (Liberty) are names that come to mind. If the 49ers want to go with a change-of-pace breakaway threat, there will be some options, too. The 49ers checked out background stuff when they brought in Kory Sheets (Purdue) and Mike Goodson (Texas A&M) for visits.

 

WR: This is very intriguing. I have every reason to believe the 49ers love Michael Crabtree as a player. (Who doesn’t?) Would they take him at No. 10, if he were available? Yes. There might be another receiver the 49ers would consider, too. Jeremy Maclin and Darrius Heyward-Bey have the speed that McCloughan said he covets. All three should be able to help the 49ers in the run game. Crabtree is a good blocker. Maclin and Heyward-Bey can stretch the field to prevent teams from putting an eighth man in the box. But, like in the past, good receivers can be found later, too. Deon Butler (Penn State), Mike Wallace (Mississippi), Johnny Knox (Abilene Christian) and Tiquan Underwood (Rutgers) are all mid-round picks who have no shortage of speed.

 

TE: The early-round need here is not high. Singletary has very high opinions of Vernon Davis and Delanie Walker. But the 49ers lost blocking specialist Billy Bajema in free agency. While they could fill that spot with a castoff from another team, they might also turn to a late-round pick, such as Fresno State‘s Bear Pascoe, whom I mentioned on Twitter a while back. With a name like “Bear,” the man has to be able to block.

 

OL: From early on, the tackle position figured to be the spot that would interest the 49ers the most with the No. 10 overall pick. Does the acquisition of Marvel Smith change that? Absolutely not. The 49ers put themselves in a bind in recent years because Jonas Jennings could not be relied upon and they really had no great backup plan. The 49ers can’t put themselves in that spot again with Marvel Smith and his cranky back. Andre Smith (Alabama) and/or Michael Oher (Mississippi) could be there at No. 10. I think they’d be happy with Smith. He would compete at right tackle in Year 1, then the team would consider whether he’d be better-suited for the left side in the future. Oher is a gifted athlete who could become the best tackle in this class. While I would not at all be surprised if the 49ers took Oher at No. 10 (he’s the guy I targeted several weeks ago on the NFL Network), I’m hearing rumblings that it’s not automatic. The 49ers spent a lot of time with Oher in the lead-up to the draft, and I’m not sure if that’s good or bad. If not in Round 1, the 49ers could find someone for the right side later with Phil Loadholt (Oklahoma) or Robert Brewster (Ball State).

 

DL: If the 49ers don’t take an offensive lineman, they very well might take a defensive lineman. B.J. Raji, right? Not necessarily. Raji has been removed from some draft boards around the league. McCloughan said he has not removed any player from the 49ers’ board. But there are enough off-field questions that make me believe the 49ers would not automatically select him. It probably won’t come to that, though. Raji, a versatile nose tackle, might not be available when the 49ers select anyway. Keep tabs on defensive end Tyson Jackson (LSU). He has all the attributes the 49ers seek in a player and person. He would strengthen the team’s defensive line. He would also help the pass rush in creating a lot of OLB-on-RB matchups. He could play left end, with Isaac Sopoaga bumping inside to the nose. There is a lot of talk now that he could be the Chiefs’ pick at No. 3. He’s not getting out of the top 10, that’s for sure. Instead of Raji or Jackson, the 49ers could go with nose tackle Ron Brace (Boston College) or end Jarron Gilbert (San Jose State) in the second round.

 

LB: Sure, the 49ers need help at outside linebacker, but just I don’t see the 49ers getting a one-dimensional player in the first round when they can select from a bunch of guys in the second, third or fourth rounds. Brian Orakpo (Texas) is a long shot at No. 10, and you can forget about the 49ers taking Aaron Maybin (Penn State) or Everette Brown (Florida State) that high. I’d go so far as to say the 49ers would take inside linebacker Rey Maualuga (USC) — or even Brian Cushing – ahead of Maybin or Brown. The 49ers should get an outside pass-rusher and an inside linebacker at some point in the draft. As for the outside guys after the first round, Connor Barwin (Cincinnati), Lawrence Sidbury (Richmond), Cody Brown (Connecticut) and Clint Sintim (Virginia) come to mind.

 

CB: The 49ers should always be on the lookout for help at corner. They can pick somebody off in the mid-rounds. I don’t see Malcolm Jenkins (Ohio State) being a real option at No. 10. Jenkins lacks the top-end speed, so he’ll be great in certain schemes that play a lot of cover-2. That’s not a good fit for the 49ers.

 

S: Dashon Goldson is slated to start at free safety. If the 49ers don’t trade Mark Roman, McCloughan said Roman would be back in training camp to compete for a job. They would like to add a safety to the mix. Darcel McBath (Texas Tech) is a playmaker who should be available in the third or fourth round.

 

ST: No needs here with Joe Nedney, Andy Lee and Brian Jennings on the job, but players at other positions will be asked to contribute on special teams. They might even get a receiver who can add something in the return game.

 

* * *

 

This is where, in the comments section, you can tell me just how badly I’ve miscalculated what might happen while making your own projections.

 

* * *