The San Francisco 49ers will begin hosting draft prospects at their facilities this week, furthering the evaluation process leading up to the first round May 8. They are allowed to have 30 visits total.
According to the Sacramento Bee, receiver Martavis Bryant (Clemson), running back Storm Johnson (Central Florida), offensive lineman Matt Patchan (Boston College), linebacker Preston Brown (Louisville) and receiver Albert Wilson (Georgia State) will be at the team's facility in Santa Clara Monday.
Still, despite the team inviting players for visits, it's tough to gauge the team's real interest in any given player. This time of year teams are always cognizant of which players are visiting which teams, and often smoke screens are set up in an attempt to gain an advantage on draft day.
For the 49ers, it's clear why they would have interest in receivers like Bryant and Wilson, both of whom possess the speed element the offense has been lacking on the outside in recent seasons. Bringing in an inside linebacker like Brown is prudent because the 49ers will likely be without NaVorro Bowman for the first six weeks of the season.
General Manager Trent Baalke has said this offseason he would like to add competition and depth to the mix at inside linebacker alongside Michael Wilhoite and Nick Moody. Brown made 301 tackles in four years at Louisville, including 21.5 sacks.
Bryant is an interesting player. He played opposite No. 1 wideout prospect Sammy Watkins at Clemson and averaged 22.2 yards per reception during his three-year career with the Tigers. Last season he caught 42 passes for 828 yards and seven touchdowns. At 6-foot-4, he ran an impressive 4.42 seconds in the 40-yard dash and jumped 39 inches in the vertical. However, Bryant lacks play strength that's crucial in getting off the line against press coverage.
Wilson, 5-foot-9, ran a 4.42 40 and projects to be a speedy slot weapon and return man taken in the middle rounds of the draft. He earned first-team All-Sun Belt honors as a receiver and second-team recognition as an all-purpose performer. He excels with the ball in his hands but could still improve his route running. He finished with 1,177 yards and eight scores in 12 games in 2013 with Georgia State.
The 49ers appear set with their stable of running backs including Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter, Marcus Lattimore and LaMichael James. But bringing in Johnson could indicate the 49ers are willing competition to the group, particularly for James if the team finds competition in the return game.
Johnson, a Miami transfer, is a down-hill runner with good size and feet. He received 213 carries for 1,139 yards and 14 touchdowns last year for Central Florida. He also had three receiving touchdowns.
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