Jim Harbaugh has been on quite a tear lately, first at Stanford and now with the 49ers. San Francisco came so close to winning the Super Bowl a few months back.
The 49ers have had an interesting off-season, where they traded away former top pick [overall] Alex Smith to Kansas City. They also landed former Brown's starting quarterback Colt McCoy to serve as Colin Kaepernick's backup. In a bold move prior to free agency San Francisco landed veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin in a trade with the Ravens. No longer with the team are wide receiver Ted Ginn and tight end Delanie Walker.
Defensively, the big hit to the 49ers defense was at safety with the loss of Dashon Goldson, who signed with Tampa Bay. But the 49ers appear to have gotten secondary help with the additions of cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and safety Craig Dahl. San Francisco also signed defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey and outside linebacker Dan Skuta.
What's great for the 49ers is they can retool certain positions in the upcoming draft, as San Francisco has 13 picks. Of those 13, five are in the top 93. This is a team that should be very active on the trade front come the NFL Draft, as they have plenty of ammunition to move up and down the draft.
Goldson is a loss for the secondary and now the 49ers must try and find two safeties in this draft. Fortunately for San Francisco it's a very good year at this position. San Francisco could opt to move up in the draft to try and land the top safety on the board in Kenny Vaccaro or they can stand pat with their first or second selection to grab the best available between Matt Elam, Eric Reid or Jonathan Cyprien. If they elect to wait on this position there are a handful of players they could grab in the mid to late rounds. With so many picks they could also afford take a chance on a guy like former Miami Hurricane Ray Ray Armstrong. He didn't play last season and could be a real steal for someone in the late innings of this draft. Signing Dahl helped and depending on how they move up and down within the draft could dictate whether the 49ers grab one or two at this position.
Now doubt that the 49ers have a talented football team. But their weakness is the secondary and cornerback has to be addressed. Too often their corners got burned. Even with the addition of Asomugha San Francisco must get help in the draft at cornerback. Here they could draft as many as two. It all depends where they want to land one. Once again, cornerback is relatively deep. Dee Milliner is the clear No. 1 guy. After him, there's a pretty solid group to choose from as the pool is pretty deep. I have to believe that one of their first five picks is a cornerback. Some players to keep an eye on are Jonathan Banks, Blidi Wrih-Wilson, David Amerson, Leon McFadden, Jamar Taylor, Robert Alford, Tyran Mathieu, Darius Slay, Jordan Poyer, B.W. Webb and some others. All of these players are certainly among top 100 prospects or so in this draft.
3. Defensive Tackle
There are certainly a handful of nose tackles that could fit the San Francisco defensive scheme. The 49ers could certainly package some picks to move up in the first round or land a good player if they do nothing. John Jenkins, Jonathan Hankins, Jesse Williams, and Brandon Williams are all guys that should fall between the back third of the first round through the third.
4. Wide Receiver
San Francisco got one of the ultimate gamers with their acquisition of Boldin. Michael Crabtree really came into his own last year. The 49ers drafted A.J. Jenkins in the first round last year and it's still to be determined on him and what kind of impact he can make on this team. Therefore, San Francisco will draft at least one wideout. They could be bold and trade up to land the top slot guy in Tavon Austin. He's arguably the most explosive player in this draft and also a fantastic return guy. Then again, they could do nothing and grab a very good receiver in the second or third round. Plenty will be available.
5. Tight End
This is a Harbaugh team and we all know how he loves his tight ends. With the loss of Walker I think they draft one, maybe even two players at this position. Depending on how things fall in the first round they could have their pick between Zach Ertz and Tyler Eifert, the draft's top two tight ends. To me, Ertz is the better all-around player and could be the guy here. There's also the connection between Ertz and Harbaugh.
6. Defensive End
Jesse Williams, mentioned above, is a big and strong defensive lineman. What some don't realize is just how versatile he is to a front, as you can play the one, three and five-technique. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see him selected by San Francisco. Margus Hunt is another possibility but does his play really match is measurables? Datone Jones is another to watch fairly early. In the mid-to-late rounds William Gholston, Quinton Dial, Damion Square, and Kapron Lewis-Moore are ones to watch for.
7. Offensive Line
Expect the 49ers to draft two to three offensive linemen, including one center. The draft's top rated true center is Travis Kendrick from Wisconsin. He will likely go sometime in the second round, possibly third. I love Alabama's Barrett Jones because of his versatility to play anywhere in the interior. San Francisco would love to add some depth at offensive tackle. Look for the 49ers to make a later selection here.
Colt McCoy (QB)
Anquan Boldin (WR)
Marlon Moore (WR)
Glenn Dorsey (DT)
Dan Skuta (OLB)
Craig Dahl (S)
Nnamdi Asomugha (CB)
Phil Dawson (K)
No Longer With The Team
Alex Smith (QB)
Ted Ginn (WR)
Delanie Walker (TE)
Isaac Sopoaga (DT)
Dashon Goldson (S)
David Akers (K)
NFL Draft Story Central