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Kiper mock update: 49ers at No. 17

4/7/2010

Mel Kiper has replaced offensive tackle Trent Williams with guard Mike Iupati in projecting which player he thinks the 49ers might draft 17th overall.

I'm updating pre-combine and post-combine items making sense of first-round choices for NFC West teams, adding post-combine thoughts, continuing with the 49ers:

17. San Francisco 49ers

Mel's latest pick: Mike Iupati, G, Idaho

My latest thoughts: Kiper moved Williams into his top 10, then gave the 49ers the highest-rated offensive lineman remaining. The thinking is sound to the extent San Francisco could use help for its offensive line. The 49ers have generally taken guards in the second round, though, and it's unclear whether they would value Iupati enough to make him a first-round choice. One key could be whether the 49ers thought Iupati might project to right tackle. Scouts I've spoken with weren't convinced. They also warned against thinking Iupati is in the Steve Hutchinson mold as far as polish and overall ability. Niners general manager Scot McCloughan was with the Seahawks when Seattle selected Hutchinson with the 17th choice of the 2001 draft. Iupati looks like a very good guard prospect, not necessarily a great one. Is the value there?

Mel's previous pick: Williams, OT, Oklahoma (with the 49ers taking C.J. Spiller earlier, at No. 13)

My pre-combine thoughts: The 49ers would win the draft-day report cards if they emerged with Spiller and Williams, filling two obvious need areas. This might be a little earlier than the 49ers would like to find their next right tackle. They drafted left tackle Joe Staley at No. 28 in 2007. But based on how Staley has performed, the 49ers could have justified drafting him earlier. If Williams is the real deal as a right tackle, he would give the 49ers bookend tackles for years to come.

My post-combine follow-up: It's potentially a surprise if Williams lasts this long. The offensive tackles were mostly impressive at the combine. But if Williams is around, the 49ers could do worse. They would address an obvious need with a player at a low-risk position. Even some of the disappointing first-round offensive tackles wind up starting for long periods. For example, the Raiders whiffed on Robert Gallery when they drafted him second overall in 2004, but Gallery has still started 79 games. It's important for the 49ers to emerge from this draft feeling as though their offensive line is pretty much set, particularly at both tackle spots. This selection would look good on the post-draft report card, with a good chance of holding up over time.