The San Francisco 49ers re-signed Anquan Boldin and will have Michael Crabtree as he enters the final season of his rookie contract. After swinging and missing on A.J. Jenkins in the first round of 2012's draft, the team needs to add depth to the position either to provide a deep threat on the outside it has been lacking or find someone that can replace Crabtree - who could garner franchise-type money on the open market next spring.
With a loaded roster already, it's clear the 49ers could afford to add a receiver (or two) in the coming draft. The timing works out well as this year's class is believed to be one of the deepest in years.
Sitting at 30 in the first round, it's likely San Francisco would have to trade up to find one of the elite-level receiver prospects. Or they could stand pat and find value at their given slot.
Last year, they needed a safety after the free-agent departure of Dashon Goldson. They traded up 13 spots with the Dallas Cowboys to take LSU product Eric Reid who went on to have a Pro-Bowl season on the back end of one of the league's best defenses.
Given that precedent set last year by trading up to take Reid, it's reasonable to assume the 49ers could move up again for another LSU product this year and target Odell Beckham Jr.
Beckham doesn't have the same size as those guys, but he makes up for it with his speed. He's 5-11 and 198 pounds. But his 33 3/4-inch arms and 10-inch hands will allow him to play bigger than his frame indicates. But most importantly, he ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine to match some impressive game tape in college football's best conference.
There's no doubt the 49ers have taken a liking to players from schools in the south. In last year's draft, the first nine of their 11 picks were selected from southern schools, including four from the SEC.
Judging by all the criteria - including his ability to contribute in the return game - Beckham appears to be a prime trade-up candidate for the 49ers. Some believed he was a fringe first-round prospect early in the evaluation process, but after a strong showing in the combine, it's looking less likely he will be around when San Francisco picks at the back end of the first round.
Trent Baalke has done well to acquire a volume of picks to use as trade currency. The 49ers have two second-round picks and three thirds, giving them six total in the top 100. Their volume of early make them one of the prime candidates to be active in trades, both forwards and backwards - perhaps moving picks for most next season to put them in a similar situation. Barring injuries, there just aren't enough holes on the roster to add a full rookie class to add to last season's batch, which saw "red-shirt" seasons from defensive lineman Tank Carradine and running back Marcus Lattimore, plus scant contributions from wideout Quinton Patton and defensive lineman Quinton Dial.
If the 49ers are considering trading up for Beckham, they will have to like him more than other wideouts with similar skill sets. Players like Marqise Lee and Brandin Cooks provide a similar speed element, although they might not be as well-rounded as Beckham initially. They could opt for one of the biggest receivers in the draft in Kelvin Benjamin.
They will have to ask themselves if Beckham will be worth using additional picks to take. Or, the 49ers could wait in the second round and find guys like Jordan Matthews, Davante Adams, Cody Latimer and others.
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