Did the 49ers really get what they needed?

The 49ers had needs entering the 2008 NFL Draft. Lots of needs. How well did they meet those needs over the weekend? "I think we addressed them," GM Scot McCloughan said. "Again, we didn't force the issue. I think what we got out of this draft from the standpoint of need was pretty good." But was it? We look at the 49ers' most pressing needs entering the draft and rate how they came out with each.

Offensive line: The 49ers didn't get that starting-caliber tackle they were hoping to find in a draft heavy with starting-caliber tackles. But they got the next best thing – one of the draft's premier guard prospects who also may have the ability to slide out to right tackle as a pro. San Francisco didn't try to reach for a tackle after seven were taken within the first 21 selections, and by most accounts USC guard Chilo Rachal was the best remaining line prospects available at No. 39 overall when the 49ers made their second-round selection – the next offensive lineman wasn't taken until 20 selections later. Rachal is more than just a consolation prize – he may be good enough to start as a rookie for a team that lost Justin Smiley to free agency, Larry Allen to expected retirement and David Baas to a torn pectoral muscle that will keep him out until training camp. But the jury is out regarding how well fourth-round selection Cody Wallace, a center by trade, will be able to contribute and bolster the team's depth inside. The 49ers needed two offensive linemen out of this draft and they got them, but there's just this feeling they could have done a little better. Success rate: Moderate

Defensive line: It's difficult to argue with the selection of North Carolina defensive tackle Kentwan Balmer with the No. 29 overall selection in the first round. Nobody really can be sure at this point how good a pro Balmer will turn out to be – he really only had one noteworthy season in college – but he came on as a force to be reckoned with in his senior season and was the best defensive lineman, if not the best prospect overall, when the 49ers went on the clock. San Francisco no doubt considered Clemson defensive end Phillip Merling – who went three picks later to Miami at the top of the second round – and the next defensive lineman wasn't selected until 15 picks after Merling. But Balmer looks like a player who can help the 49ers more, and he may be a natural fit at end in San Francisco's 3-4 scheme while also possessing the ability to play on the nose if need be. Balmer wasn't expected to get past Jacksonville at the No. 25 pick, but that selection ended up in Houston's hands and the Texans went for Virginia Tech offensive tackle Duane Brown. When Balmer fell toward the bottom of the first round, the 49ers wisely were there to catch him. He fills a definite need along the team's defensive line and was the best pick the Niners could have made at the time. Success rate: High

Wide receiver: The 49ers, after acquiring veterans Isaac Bruce and Bryant Johnson in free agency, were not going to consider a receiver with their first-round selection – turns out that no other team selected a wideout in Round 1 either, the first time that has happened since 1990 – and it was unlikely they would take a sniff at even the best prospects still available with their second-round pick. But with their third selection toward the middle of the third round? With LSU's Early Doucet, Louisville's Harry Douglas, Michigan's Mario Manningham and Florida's Andre Caldwell still on the board? Each of those wideouts carried a second-round grade or above according to several analysts, and each went to other teams later in the third round after San Francisco selected cornerback Reggie Smith with the No. 75 overall selection. Maybe none of those receivers could have helped the 49ers, but each is a promising prospect that has starting potential in the future if not the present. The 49ers did grab Virginia Tech prospect Josh Morgan with their sixth-round pick, which looks like a good value selection at that spot. But there are reasons Morgan lasted until the No. 175 overall selection in the draft. He's more of a project than a prospect at this point. It appears the 49ers decided to wait until next year's draft to pick up a front-line prospect who can truly help them at the position. Success rate: Low

Linebacker: The 49ers need help at linebacker both inside, where former starter Derek Smith needs to be replaced, and outside, where the team needs to upgrade its ability to rush the quarterback. The latter type of players are difficult to find, but good linebackers were available in the middle rounds and the Niners waited until their final selection – the No. 214 overall – to take Ohio State's Larry Grant, a player who will have to scratch and claw just to make the roster and doesn't appear to bring anything more than what San Francisco already has with the other linebackers on its roster. Maybe the 49ers would have jumped on Penn State product Dan Connor, a top prospect who fell down the draft board and almost landed in San Francisco's lap. But Connor was snatched up by Carolina with the No. 74 pick in the third round – one selection before the 49ers went on the clock at No. 75. Michigan's promising Shawn Crable was available then, however, and he didn't last much longer before New England grabbed him with the No. 78 selection. UCLA's Bruce Davis and Georgia Tech's Philip Wheeler were other solid prospects who went later in the third round, and Nevada's Beau Bell went early in the fourth – three selections before the 49ers drafted Wallace. Like at receiver, this is a position of relatively high need at which the 49ers passed on some good-looking prospects and instead settled for a late-round flyer. Success rate: Low

Cornerback: The 49ers are seemingly stocked with cornerbacks and have a true star at the position in Nate Clements, but as the saying goes – a saying that the 49ers certainly heed – you can never have enough cornerbacks. And with Walt Harris getting older, Shawntae Spencer not getting any better and Tarell Brown, Marcus Hudson and Donald Strickland still unproven as anything more than adequate at the position, San Francisco can use another prospect to develop here. Smith is now that guy, and he brings good size and some skills that could help the team. Elite cornerbacks usually are grabbed in the first round, and it's usually hit or miss at the position beyond that, as far as finding impact kind of talent at the position. But Smith looks like a decent value pick where the 49ers got him, and they certainly passed over some good prospects at other positions to take him instead. If they weren't going to find an immediate starter-level talent here – five of those kind of prospects were taken in the first round and another high in the second round – the 49ers had to try to unearth a gem later in the upper half of the draft, and that appears to be the case with Smith, who has potential if not proven pedigree at the position. Success rate: Moderate

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