Key defensive comparisons on draft day

The 49ers have the Nos. 13 and 17 picks – in case you didn’t already know that. Certainly, the 49ers could trade up a couple spots if there’s a player they really love. But what if all those players are gone and there are only a lot of players they like?


The 49ers could choose between those players. Or, if trade opportunities arise, the 49ers could move back and take advantage of a deep draft with more picks within the first three rounds.

In this blog entry, we’re going to focus on a couple of either/or choices on the defensive side of the ball. These players could be options for the 49ers at Nos. 13 and 17.


DBs Joe Haden (Florida) vs. Earl Thomas (Texas): Haden is generally regarded as the top cornerback in the draft. Thomas is seen as the top cover safety. There is a slight chance Tennessee safety Eric Berry falls to 13. If that happens, the 49ers don’t have to spend much time contemplating their selection. But if the 49erse must decide among Haden or Thomas, there is certain to be a lively debate. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area 49ers analyst Eric Davis and I had that debate last week on the air. I think the 49ers would go with Haden because he is a true cornerback, and the 49ers seemingly every year run short at that position. Davis does not like Haden’s change-of-direction skills. He believes Thomas is a better football player who has value as a nickel back and a safety. If Haden is gone (Cleveland could take him at No. 7), do the 49ers take Thomas at 13? The 49ers might have some options. The word is that the Cowboys are interested in moving up to 13 to select Thomas. If just picks from this draft were exchanged, the 49ers could pick up the Cowboys’ picks at No. 27 overall, and in the second and third rounds at Nos. 59 and 90. After making the pick at No. 17, the 49ers then could get safety Taylor Mays or select the best in the next tier of offensive tackles, such as Charles Brown, Rodger Saffold or Vladimir Ducasse, with the No. 27 pick.


Derrick Morgan (Georgia Tech) vs. Sergio Kindle (Texas) vs. Brandon Graham (Michigan): Morgan is considered the best pass-rusher in the draft. Seattle has been mentioned as a possible landing spot for him, whether at No. 6 or 14. Graham could go as early as the No. 11 overall to the Broncos. One scout told me he likes Kindle better now than he liked former Texas teammate Brian Orakpo a year ago, coming out of the draft. He said Kindle has better movement and more pass-rush options. Sure, Morgan does not fit a 3-4 defense as an every-down player. But he could still prove beneficial even to those teams. For the 49ers, Morgan could work his way into the action as a third-down pass-rusher when the 49ers go with a four-man line in nickel situations. He would play somewhere in the neighborhood of 45-percent of the plays, and his job description would be to get after the quarterback. Although the 49ers’ pass-rush trio of Parys Haralson, Manny Lawson and Ahmad Brooks combined for 17.5 sacks last season, they could still use a dynamic pass-rush threat who requires attention.


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We contemplate some either/or scenarios on offense in a future blog entry. Remember, the NFL announces the dates and times for all regular season games today at 4 p.m. (PT).


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