The Aldon Smith selection made me fully aware of a key fact: I have no idea what the 49ers will be doing in this draft.
Now, with that out of the way, let’s speculate on San Francisco’s second-round selection!
A popular pre-draft theory had the 49ers passing on a quarterback at No. 7 (correct), but trading up into the first round (incorrect) or the early part of the second round (possible) to snag a signal-caller.
If the 49ers stand pat at No. 45, it’s unlikely TCU’s Andy Dalton or Nevada’s Colin Kaepernick tumble to them. Arkansas’ Ryan Mallet? I think Jim Harbaugh’s DNA detector reads NO WAY. And I’m guessing it’s too early for Iowa’s Ricky Stanzi, although I didn’t see too many mock drafts with Jake Locker and Christian Ponder both being taken within the first 12 picks.
The fuzzy labor situation – it’s now being reported the lockout could be reinstated – makes guesswork even more complicated. If there was impending free agency and trades, the Niners may not feel as much urgency to draft a quarterback early with various options – Alex Smith, Kevin Kolb, Carson Palmer, Josh Johnson etc. – finally available to them.
Does that clear everything up? Probably not.
But with one need (pass-rushing OLB) addressed, it’s logical to assume the Niners could look to cornerback if they don’t draft a signal-caller with their second-round pick.
The cornerback class has decent depth and a few potential first-rounders – Miami’s Brandon Harris and Texas’ Aaron Williams – are still on the board.
Here’s a look at some possibilities at the position:
Aaron Williams, Texas (6-0, 203)
• Williams probably won’t last 13 more picks. He’s regarded as a physical corner who doesn’t shy away from run support – he had three forced fumbles this past season. A possible concern: Williams only had four interceptions in 23 college starts, including zero in 2010.
Ras-I Dowling, Virginia (6-1, 199)
• Dowling was hampered by injuries, including a fractured ankle, this past season (sound familiar?) He was a preseason All-American who compared favorably with fellow Virginia cornerback Chris Cook after his junior season in 2009. Cook was the No. 34 overall pick in last year’s draft.
Brandon Harris, Miami (5-10, 192)
• Trent Baalke likes big and Harris is … not so big. He also had just four interceptions in 32 college starts.
Johnny Patrick, Louisville (5-11, 191)
• SI.com’s Don Banks has Patrick landing with the Niners in his second-round mock draft. Like Harris, he isn’t huge, but he is known for his physicality.